A song-based guide, in order of our excitement level, to the Big Gig shows that are well worth the price of admission.
Kendrick Lamar | July 1
Although the visceral rapper waxes poetic over jazzy production on sophomore album To Pimp a Butterfly, the pounding single “King Kunta” unleashes his anger and lyrical prowess in seemingly one breath.
The Rolling Stones | June 23
The septuagenarians lack the raw, unbridled energy captured on Exile on Main St. burner “Rip This Joint,” but don’t expect a tame performance from the libertine rock stars, either.
Lupe Fiasco | July 3
His “Superstar” status has cooled over the past few years, but the smooth-flowing rapper still lights crowds afire with the soulful mid-2000s snapshot.
Field Report | June 28
The stage better stay illuminated until hometown folkie Christopher Porterfield strums through his wistful ballad “Home (Leave The Lights On).”
Mavis Staples | June 24
Even at age 75, count on the unstoppable Staple Singer to “Take You There.”
The Flaming Lips | June 27
“Do You Realize??” that the Oklahoman alt-rockers put on magically fun performances with storms of confetti, endless beach balls and a kaleidoscopic light show? Lead singer Wayne Coyne even surfs atop the crowd in a plastic bubble.
Phox | July 2
Time barely creeps forward when the Baraboo folk band traipses through “Slow Motion,” the sultry ballad from its widely acclaimed self-titled debut.
Jane’s Addiction | July 4
Summerfest hasn’t “Been Caught Stealing” Perry Farrell’s rock band from Chicago’s competing musical festival because the piercingly voiced frontman, of course, founded Lollapalooza.
Santigold | June 26
The former Epic Records A&R, who’s written songs for Ashlee Simpson and Lily Allen, prophesied her own stardom on the electro-pop glitz of 2008’s “L.E.S. Artistes.”
The Isley Brothers | July 3
We-eee-eeell, the R&B pioneers should command the most crowd-pleasing performance, drawing multiple generations of fans ready to revisit high school dance mainstay “Shout.”
Summerfest (June 24-28, June 30-July 5). 200 N. Harbor Dr, 414-273-2680, summerfest.com.