With headliners playing against each other, a sprawling field that takes some practice to navigate and enough spectacular sights and sounds to cause sensory overload, Lollapalooza remains one of the U.S. festivals that's practically impossible to plan out ahead of time. Say you know you're going to catch headliners like Eminem, Outkast and Kings of Leon when you head to Chicago's Grant Park this weekend (Aug. 1-3), and you're pretty confident that Lorde, Spoon, Iggy Azalea and Martin Garrix are also must-see acts. But what about the many, many artists invading Lolla that aren't household names? Which rock bands are worth checking out, which producers should you groove to, and which singer-songwriters will be worth crowing about later? We've done our best to steer you in the right direction this weekend with this list of non-headliners that you won't want to miss.
From Blood Orange's beautiful bounce to Cardiknox's brightly colored pop, check out which smaller artists you'll want to make time for at Lollapalooza 2014:
Courtney Barnett (Friday, The Grove stage, 2:15 PM)
This Australian singer-songwriter's deadpan wit and devastating emotion has been gaining followers since the release of "The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas." The promising alt-rock auteur played a buzzed-about set at Coachella earlier this year, and the word-of-mouth acclaim will keep spreading at Lollapalooza.
Blood Orange (Friday, The Grove stage, 4:45 PM) - Producer Dev Hynes pushed his Blood Orange project to the forefront with "Cupid Deluxe," 2013's most lushly calibrated collection of R&B, and has stayed busy this year with tour dates and remixes. Don't miss his recent reworking of Sia's "Chandelier" if he drops it on Friday afternoon.
Royal Blood (Friday, BMI stage, 6:50 PM)
Formed just last year, this duo got a big boost when Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders wore a Royal Blood onstage at Glastonbury -- and then the Monkeys brought Royal Blood on the road with them. The swaggering garage rock of debut EP "Out of the Black," released last February, will be on full display during the group's early evening set, which happens to precede Arctic Monkey's headlining show.
Parquet Courts (Saturday, Palladia stage, 1:45 PM) - Hailed as "New York's last great rock band" by hyperbolic critics, Parquet Courts nevertheless lived up to the hype with new album "Sunbathing Animal," which refined the furious punk energy of previous full-length "Light Up Gold" and added some bleary-eyed Velvet Underground fuzz to the mix.
Meg Myers (Saturday, The Grove stage, 2:50 PM) - A pop-rock star-in-the-making, Meg Myers already conquered the main stage of the Governors Ball Festival with her frank sexuality and whip-smart songwriting. Her "Make a Shadow" EP piqued the right industry interests, and Myers is currently prepping her debut album for Atlantic.
Rich Homie Quan (Saturday, The Grove stage, 4:00 PM)
With Eminem and Outkast at the top of this year's Lollapalooza bill and rappers like Nas and Chance The Rapper headed to Chicago, the lineup has its fair share of hip-hop highlights -- but don't sleep on Atlanta MC Rich Homie Quan, who delivered one of last year's most irresistible street anthems, "Type of Way." Fresh off a spot in the XXL Freshman list, RHQ has promised an album by the end of the year and confirmed a Drake collaboration earlier this week.
Gramatik (Saturday, Perry's stage, 4:30 PM) - This Slovenia-born, Brooklyn-based producer may not have the name recognition of Skrillex or even Martin Garrix, but his set -- which comes after months of playing shows and top-line festivals -- should be penciled in alongside the rest of the must-see EDM stars.
Shy Girls (Sunday, The Grove stage, 12:00 PM)
Start the final day of the fest with Dan Vidmar, better known as hushed electro-R&B artist Shy Girls, whose "Timeshare" EP was one of last year's best. Bonus: he might play "All For Show," a deliriously catchy new track produced by Jagwar Ma's Jono Ma.
Bomba Estereo (Sunday, Bud Light stage, 1:00 PM) - Tropical music from Colombia's most self-assured dance collective? Sounds perfect for a sun-streaked Sunday afternoon! Bomba Estereo will be making booties shake with cuts from 2012's "Elegancia Tropical" and its vast back catalogue.
Cardiknox (Sunday, BMI stage, 4:30 PM) - If you're searching for some radio-ready electro-pop before the Kings of Leon head-banging begins, look no further than Cardiknox, whose single "Technicolor Dreaming" sounds like… well, its title, for one. Cardiknox opened for Australian pop wonder Betty Who earlier this year, and after the duo departs the BMI stage, stick around for Who to make her Lollapalooza debut with the next set.