The Lollapalooza front gate is set and ready for concertgoers. (Michael Tercha / Chicago Tribune / August 1, 2013)

We could go on and on about why Lolla 2014 (Aug. 1-3 at Grant Park) will be awesome thanks to performances by well-known, acclaimed acts Outkast, Arctic Monkeys, Chance the Rapper and so forth. That’s true; it will be awesome.

Yet it’s a lot more useful to identify the bands that are less likely to attract tens of thousands of fans but still very much worthy of recognition. Here are the smaller artists we can’t wait to see--and not just because during the sets there actually may be room to dance without getting elbowed.

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Matt Pais

San Fermin
12:15-1 p.m. Fri. at Palladia stage
Start your fest ambitiously with this unpredictable ensemble, organized by classical music-influenced composter Ellis Ludwig-Leone and featuring, in addition to sax, trumpet and violin, vocals from Allen Tate (who will remind you of the National’s Matt Berninger) and Charlene Kaye, whose solo stuff is worth checking out too. 

1:45-2:45 p.m. Fri. at Palladia stage
“Wildewoman,” the Brooklyn band’s full-length debut, offers continuous, girl group-flavored indie pop charm (those harmonies!) that never veers into cutesiness. It’s an instant good mood.

3:45-4:45 p.m. Fri. at Palladia stage
The Irish singer has a stop-in-your-tracks voice, which doesn’t always translate to a festival setting (especially in the mid-afternoon). But once the word spreads on him, watch out.

Royal Blood
6:50-7:30 p.m. Fri. at BMI stage
Smart counter-programming for anyone not on the Lorde bandwagon, Royal Blood comes cut from the same cloth as Middle Class Rut, another two-piece that cranks, with the songs to back it up.

Ernest Wilkins

12-12:45 p.m. Fri. at Perry's stage
This group's performance will be the most-chill act at Perry's stage all weekend. If you're expecting body slams and steel chairs, you're in the wrong place.

Into It. Over It.
1-1:45 p.m. Fri. at the Grove stage
The next in a long line of Chicago sad-boy punk rockers, Evan Thomas Weiss gives a fresh coat of paint to emo rock that tugs at you, and then asks you to dance. 

Cash Cash
5:40-6:20 p.m. Fri. at BMI stage
Most electro-pop groups lose their appeal after a few tunes. Not the case with this duo, which will make you dance AND not make you want to roll your eyes!



The Districts
12-12:45 p.m. Sat. at Lakeshore stage
A solid start to a highlight-filled day, this Pennsylvania act doesn’t do anything fancy, but it does guitar-driven Americana well. Thanks, Lolla, for booking them instead of having Delta Spirit again.

Benjamin Booker
12:50-1:30 p.m. Sat. at the Grove stage
The exciting New Orleans singer-guitarist has only released a few songs (his self-titled debut arrives Aug. 19), but his punk-blues attack makes it pretty easy to understand why Jack White nabbed him as an opening act.