When Lady Gaga cried on the first night of this year's Lollapalooza Festival, she told the tale of her infamous Lollapalooza performance from 2007 when she played as an opener and left the crowd's jaws dropped. With so many headlining bands this year slotted during the same time (Gaga vs. The Strokes, Green Day vs. Phoenix, Soundgarden vs. Arcade Fire), seeing indie bands during the day was a great way to get the most buck out of the fest. Here's a list of Yahoo! Music's top 10 emerging artists that could very well get to near-Gaga headlining fame in the future.
1) Wild Beasts - This art-pop-rock outfit's dramatic tempo shifts and shimmering guitar lines can channel a more glam rendition of what Grizzly Bear has accomplished--maybe even some Fleet Foxes (without the sweeping, cheesy, Disney-forest vibes). But what distinguishes this English foursome is the shrillest, most androgynous falsetto from frontman Hayden Thorpe, rigorously tempered by bassist/vocalist Tom Fleming's erratic tenor. Their set at this year's Lollapalooza consisted mostly of their material from last year's debut album Two Dancers, and the Beasts swaggered through their material as Grant Park's dragonflies buzzed through the crowds.
2) Empire Of The Sun - Since the glam duo's debut Walking On a Dream in 2009, Empire Of The Sun have been slowly accumulating cred with their overly theatrical shows and outer-space sonics (they even have superhero names: Emperor Steele and Lord Littlemore). The Perry's Stage was packed to the max with stage divers and sweaty teens, even though headliners Phoenix and Green Day were playing at the same time on Saturday night. Luke Steele strutted out onstage with a fabulous sun headpiece, looking like a modern-day incarnation of Bowie-meets-Prince, and introduced Chicago to a chillwave-dance hybrid. The new Of Montreal? Quite possibly.
3) Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Ima Robot frontman Alex Ebert went from electro to hippie when he brought together Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, and while his musical makeover culminates in a confused fashion and instrumental sense (Nashville-looking blonde female accordionist, guitarist with neon socks?), it really works when the live music begins. The revolving collective from Los Angeles had 11 people onstage Saturday evening, with the most dedicated audience for an opening band throughout the festival. While the sheer number of instruments to be soundchecked made the performers 20 minutes late, the payoff was huge when Sharpe dove into the crowd, embraced by the crowd singing along to every single word of each song.
4) The Big Pink - A festival ain't a festival without some solid '80s noise-rock, and the Big Pink were poised for this Lollapalooza performance since being voted as BBC's most likely breakout acts of 2009, followed by their debut album A Brief History Of Love. Frontman Robin Furze's Jim Reid hair and the bassist's headspins cracked open the festival midday on Friday, and audiences got to enjoy nuances from Echo & The Bunnymen and early Creation-era Britpop/shoegaze, culminating in the Big Pink's hit single, "Dominos."
5) Dan Black - It's difficult to compare England's Dan Black to any modern-day indie solo male artist, but he is in the leagues of Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes or James Murphy's pre-fame careers. He's been on tour with Robyn and Kelis this year, as well as featuring Kid Cuti on his "Symphonies" remix single released in '09. Onstage he was a spastic prince of alt-techno, soaring all over the stage between his drum machine, jamming with his guitarist, and screeching falsetto into the crowds.
6) Yeasayer - Yeasayer have garnered a steady fanbase since their 2008 Brooklyn artist youth anthem "2080," and have grown into an even more daring sound with Eastern overtures ornamenting their indie rock on this year's sophomore release Odd Blood. Their set at the main Budweiser Stage Sunday afternoon was packed before it even started, and they issued a tribal '80s psychedelic dance party complete with chants, yelps, and no absence of clap-alongs and fist-pumps.
7) The Morning Benders - The Morning Benders seemed at first like lanky, unassuming college boys from San Francisco, but their twinkling '60s harmonies and indie-goes-doo-wop couldn't have been a more perfect Saturday noon opener. Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor's production credits may have a lot to do with their California haze filling the entire stage, but these boys have graduated into their own.
8) The Soft Pack - The Soft Pack have always had a penchant for straying away from the P.C. (until recently, they called themselves the Muslims). While their surf-infested, angular minimalism seems best suited for a sweaty dive venue or a loft show, there were plenty of snarls and catchy, grinding hooks to satisfy the crowds at the main Budweiser Stage on Saturday afternoon.
9) Warpaint - Imagine the hottest girls from Woodstock forming a band. These '60s psych sirens can go from ambient psychedelia to jangly jams within one track, hypnotizing concertgoers with their tie-dye T-shirts, bejeweled masks, and high-pitched vocal harmonies.
10) Harlem - The band Harlem is still young, hailing from Austin with huge subversive musical airs. While tech issues and sloppy slip-ups held up their Saturday afternoon set for a bit, they more than made up for it with a young punk attitude (switching off between instruments) and an offensive fashion sense that consisted of leather police hats and tourist bikini-print T-shirts.