On the first Friday of this month, thousands of people—crawling out of the Van Buren train stop and coming in from far away places around the world—swarmed the downtown Chicago area to hear the music of DJs, indie rockers, and iconic bands, like Nine Inch Nails and The Cure, at this year’s Lollapalooza.
The first day of any festival is like the first day of school. Everyone puts too much effort into their outfit, packs a lunch with their favorite foods, and can’t sit still without feeling consistent jitters. But we must say, the wait was well-worth the anticipation, and below, we’ll break down our favorite moments from this year’s music fest.
The Neighbourhood, a relatively new band from Los Angeles, kicked off the festival at Petrillo stage.
The group drove the girls wild with their ‘40s vintage-inspired style and their sleeve tattoos. Although the band was certainly charismatic, they seemed better suited for a darker, smaller venue. The stage was one of the bigger ones at the festival, making the band feel unnecessarily separated.
If they could have performed during the evening, some stage light action could’ve happened and it would have livened up their set. Regardless, they delivered a good performance and did a decent job at being one of the first, out of hundreds of bands, to face the crowd at Lollapalooza.
Favorite track: Sweater Weather
Next up, I made my way over to Perry’s stage to see Keys N Krates. Their set proved that it’s never too early to get down to some funky bass and music samples. I’d go as far to say they were one of my favorite dubstep acts of the entire festival.
Their sound is similar to house music, but mixed with music samples coming from what sounds like early 2000s. If you want to listen to something upbeat that will make you groove, we highly recommend that you give this dope trio a listen.
Favorite track: Treat Me Right
Following the Keys N Krates performance, Icona Pop, the duo who recently gained fame from their hit single, “I Love It,” which has undeniably become one of the summer’s girl anthems, performed at Lake Shore stage.
It goes without saying that I was super excited to see them perform. However, after seeing them live, I was bit disappointed as their performance left me unimpressed.
The two women both wore shift chain plastic dresses—one in black and the other in white.
It’s fair to say that their voices (live) were stunning, fresh, and joyfully tinged with Swedish accents. It would’ve added to the performance if they had interacted with each other more, or had an addition to the set to make the performance more engaging and interesting.
Favorite track: Ready For The Weekend
Following the Icona Pop, we made our way to the Red Bull Sound Select stage, where Smith Westerns were scheduled to perform.
The members dressed up like ‘80s teenagers who got lost in the wrong generation, but decided, “it’s cool, man”. Perhaps it’s because they’re familiar with the crowd atmosphere of Lolla, as the lead singer mentioned halfway through the set, “We used to come to Lolla as kids, used to smoke weed… participate in underage drinking.”
What set them apart, was not only their performance, but their relaxed mannerism and how they interacted with the audience.
With a sound similar to what Explosions in the Sky might sound like if they had an indie, ‘90s flare, the band filled the Chicago air with their sweet guitar riffs and soothing dreamy vocals.
We could easily see their music making an appearance as a theme song for indie summer romance film, or even more fitting, a summer road trip.
Favorite track: Glossed
Across the lawn at Lake Shore stage at 3:15, Father John Misty came onto the stage, his deep voice growling and hips shaking with the mike as he thrusted it around him. I find his name to be puzzling, but after seeing his performance I can see how it’s ironic, and clever.
He interacted with the crowd, but not in the conventional, “How you guys doing!” bit. At the start of his set, Misty instructed the audience, “In that camp counselor voice, and with every question [I ask] I want you to respond with ‘eh.'”
He then yelled into the crowd, “How’s everyone doing out there?” Of course, most of audience was too confused and awkwardly hollered into the air while others just comically shrugged their shoulders in obedience to his instructions.
Father John Misty gave a raw (and sometimes silly) performance as he crooned away with energetic songs.
Favorite track: Only Son of the Ladiesman
One of the most anticipated bands set to play at Lolla was Canadian electronic band Crystal Castles. And this dark, electronic duo definitely brought the magical and transformative atmosphere to the festival.
Lead singer Alice Glass is somewhat of a female icon with her I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. She’s known for several incidences, one in particular where she put out a cigarette on members of a crowd who were rude to her.
And after an intro, Glass finally graced the stage with her presence to a shrieking audience. Seriously, there’s a part of me that wouldn’t doubt, if there had been enough leg people would’ve bowed.
And keeping up with her girl-gone-bad persona, once onstage, she immediately grabbed a whiskey bottle, took a swig before placing it down and staring intently into the crowd as the first chords of “Plague” exploded through the speakers.
She wore a black crop top, a black mini skirt, white tights, all which were complemented with Doc Martens.
The sky remained cloudy during the set but she kept her small shades on for half of it, making her air of mystery even more maddening.
She held onto the mic like a toy, leaning into it with her weight as if belting lyrics exhausted her physical body.
The grunge feel of the music was intensified by her aloof but fixated attitude towards the crowd—her slight smirks felt like a gift to the crowd as they screamed with delight at the beginning of each song.
Favorite song: Alice Practice
Reaching towards the end of the day, Chance The Rapper, the hometown hero who started his career in the heart of Chicago performed on the BMI stage.
BMI was placed in a small cove of Grant Park, under a large mask of tree, almost three times as small as the other stages. But Chance has made quite the impression in the hip hop world, so it was no surprise when people crammed into a smaller space to see him perform.
The performer was late coming to the stage, but he kept the crowd calm by playing clips from songs like “Fuckin’ Problem,” as people cheered and passed blunts with their neighbors.
Chance’s music is a softer, more melodic kind of rap, which is rich with feeling. So instead of grinding and dancing, the crowd sang in union with one another, attempting to outdo eachother with how familiar with the lyrics they were.
It was sad that he only played a 40-minute set, but he made up for it when Twista, another one of Chicago’s favorites, joined him for “Cocoa Butter Kisses.” And yes, the crowd went absolute berserk.
Favorite track: Pusha Man
Headlining at The Grove stage, Lana Del Rey performed for a crowd of predominantly young girls riding on the shoulders of their boyfriends while singing off key at the top of their lungs.
A ring of trees surrounded the stage, so attendants climbed up in the trees to get a good spot over the rows of people squishing together under the terrain of the park.
Not surprisingly, Lana’s voice is just as flawless, mellow and powerful as it is on her record.
She dressed in a long red dress, 70’s styled, with a headband which she wore over her long curled hair. It was only too predictable.
Throughout the entire performance, she stood in one place, swaying from side to side, which ultimately left me a bit bored towards the end of her set.
While she performed a backdrop playing old grainy of clips of her music videos and plum red lips and cat-lined eyes staring into the camera kept the audience engage.
While Del Rey does have a unique vocal style — her voice almost purrs the verses of every song about corrupted love and her free spirit — her performance was blah.
No mistaking her talent, but her performance would be better perceived in a more intimate setting.
Favorite track: Summertime Sadness