Once again, Lollapalooza came to Chicago. The massive, four-day festival came to Grant Park, Thursday-Sunday, August 2nd-5th. A wide variety of acts & stages littered the downtown park, along with hefty doses of security, young fans (thus the need for security), corporate sponsorship, sun, heat, and more.
Ever since Lollapalooza expanded to four days in 2015 for its twenty-fifth anniversary (QRO recap), Thursday has usually been the lightest of the quartet, not even weekend-adjacent. But this edition seemed more evenly balanced, day-to-day, with opening acts you’ve heard about & been meaning to see, and big headliners.
Opening the main Grant Park Stage was Slaves. A guitar/drums punk duo from the U.K., they are different from other guitar/drums duos that were big years ago in that their drummer is the singer (shades of the late Grant Hart – QRO interview). It was tough to fill the large stage at 1:00 PM, but they did their best – “Wakey, wakey!” In a great working class Brit accent (that was totally reminiscent of the Spirit of ’77), singer/drummer Isaac Holman asked everyone to hug the person next to them – including security, “You’re not too macho for a hug,” then asking the crowd to cheer for security (not usually a punk band’s friend). When the folks up front were getting crushed, he asked everyone to take a step back. When his hi-hat wasn’t working, he sang, “Fuck the hi-hat!” Still not sure about two white British guys who named their band “Slaves,” but they definitely acquitted themselves well at this American stop.
One of the hidden gems of Lollapalooza is the BMI Stage. Much smaller than the other stages, in the middle of the festival grounds with rare shade, it hosts small up-and-coming acts promoted by the premiere musical rights management, BMI. While you’ve likely never heard of any of the artists playing it, there’s a good chance that at least a few will blow up and play a bigger stage their next time at Lolla. Sisters Larkin Poe (QRO photos at BMI SXSW party) brought their twangy rock to the stage on Thursday – including strapped slide guitar. Meanwhile, on the also shaded (but larger) American Eagle side stage, Allie X delivered.
The main Grant Park Stage at Lollapalooza will always have big acts playing the big space way too early in the day, when the sun is beating down and sweat is pouring down, artists that are used to playing nightclubs and such. Stars are better seen in the evening (QRO live review), but the Montreal band as still lovely in the day (and it’s not like they were under Fluorescent Light – QRO review). Indeed, they were great for both dancing in the sun and lying in the shade.
Also special points for Stars singer Torquil Campbell saying, “Give it up for these hard-working signers, who know all the words!” Lollapalooza has live sign language interpreters for a number of the performances, who don’t just sign the words, but move to the songs as well, very visible in their perches at the side of the stage, slightly below. And when Campbell thanked their translator, she signed that as well.
The Grant Park Stage-Lake Shore Stage (right opposite each other) alternating sets on Thursday delivered some great indie-dance acts. After Stars, over at Lake Shore were The Wombats. The British band has never had the following in America that they have at home (kind of like Canadian Stars), but pulled it off in Chicago.
Following them back on the Grant Park Stage was Scotland’s Franz Ferdinand. Yes, they’re many years removed from breakthrough “Take Me Out”, and yes, their sound hasn’t evolved much in the following years – but it’s a great sound. And singer/guitarist Alex Kapranos is still a wonderful frontman (including pointing out the Scottish flag in the crowd). While your correspondent’s photographer probably wishes that they’d done “Glimpse of Love”, and it’s line of, “Love is gonna come as a photographer,” while he was in the photo pit, they did do the track from this year’s Always Ascending (QRO review). And instead of closing with “Take Me Out”, that was second-to-last; instead, their set ended with an extended version of another early hit of theirs, “This Fire”.
Over at the tree-shaded American Eagle side stage was Jaden Smith, a.k.a. Will & Jada’s son and Willow’s brother. Whatever you think of Hollywood royalty doing music (gotta be better than After Earth…), he garnered a big crowd (including fans climbing the trees overlooking), and invited guest star Lido on stage.
Meanwhile, Billie Eilish had all the teenage girls screaming their love for the fast-rising star at the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage. Coming off her packed House of Blues show the night prior (QRO photos), she was almost like Daenerys Targaryen, if Emilia Clarke was a rhyming pop star. Indeed, if the schedule hadn’t been set so early (always a double-edged sword with Lollapalooza), she would have been put on one of the biggest stages to accommodate her many fans.
The indie-dance line-up continued on the south end of Lollapalooza with CHVRCHES at the Grant Park Stage. Big, powerful electro-dance, from the small package of Lauren Mayberry, came to the big, excited crowd. Notable was that their audience was roughly equal, male-to-female, pointing to the band’s wide, dedicated appeal. Matt Berninger reprised his guest appearance on “My Enemy” from this year’s Love Is Dead (QRO review) – his band The National were to headline the next day, and play an intimate show at The Metro that night (QRO photos).
Going to the modern Latin pop girl power at the Lake Shore Stage was Camilla Cabello. “I love writing songs about love. I’m probably the most emo person at this festival – my mom is here, so second-most.” And her songs of love aren’t just about romance, “Who’s here with a group of friends?” – and a lot of ladies were.
Of course it was a mad house at the Bud Light Stage for headliner Travis Scott; three years ago at Lollapalooza (QRO recap) he called upon fans to jump the barricade and storm the stage, cutting his set off after only a few minutes, and even getting him arrested for disorderly conduct. But he’s Kylie Jenner’s man, so he could return (and she was there as well, fresh off the February birth of their child), with new album Astroworld dropping only a few hours later. And this time, he stopped his set when fans made it known that someone in the crowd needed medical attention. Later, a fan made his way to the front and convinced Scott to let him make a marriage proposal, on stage (she said yes). In contrast, Scott was an hour late to his set the next night at Montreal’s Osheaga, thanks to customs.
Meanwhile, Arctic Monkeys also returned (QRO photos at Lollapalooza ’14) to headline the Grant Park Stage. It was a different affair at this end of the park, including frontman Alex Turner lying down on stage for a moment. And, despite playing the bigger of the two main stages, they seemed to have the smaller headline crowd of the day.
After the scorcher that was the prior day, Friday at Lollapalooza was still hot, but not quite as hot, and a little less humid. It really made for a more enjoyable event – hopefully global warming doesn’t kill the outdoor music festival (or move them all to Canada…).
Friday had a whole bunch of singer/songwriters that you’ve been meaning to see. There was Matt Maeson opening the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage (hopefully he stuck around until Sunday to see his favorite artist, Manchester Orchestra). Melbourne’s Alex Lahey has been impressing people around the world with her debut, Love You Like a Brother (QRO review), and after impressing folks at The Metro the prior night, opening for The National (see below) at a Lollapalooza after-show (QRO photos), she opened the big Grant Park Stage.
Lahey joked that she wanted to honor The Simpsons’ Hullabalooza episode (which mocked the nineties touring version of Lollapalooza, in still one of the ultra-venerable show’s best episodes ever) by firing a cannon into her belly, but couldn’t get Peter Frampton’s inflatable pig, so instead covered Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” (though no nineties Lollapalooza act would cover a pop star). Hullabalooza act Smashing Pumpkins had (three-quarters) reunited the night before at Madison Square Garden (QRO photos).
Over at the Lake Shore Stage, Lewis Capaldi delivered emotional white boy wrought that girls love and hipsters roll their eyes at. Following back at the Grant Park Stage was Dermot Kennedy, and his strong, powerful voice. He’s an artist that you missed and wished that you hadn’t, or your friend caught and told you all about.
Lake Shore had Bebe Rexha and crowd singing along to opener “Me, Myself & I”, though it was unfortunate that she was on the same time as Tito’s Lizzo, who covered TLC’s ultra-classic “No Scrubs”, along with her own pieces such as “Fitness”, “Scuse Me”, and “Good As Hell”, backed up her Big Grrrls dancers and DJ Sophia Erris. Your correspondent went to the much more intimate Bud Light Dive Bar Stage, like he did the weekend prior at Panorama (QRO recap), this time for Welshly Arms. When their guitar went down, the group rolled with it and played “Sanctuary” with just piano. Their blues-y sound fit well with the stage (which was one of the few at Lollapalooza with shade – and the only one with seats). And yes, they joked about the sponsor, because that was kind of unavoidable, noting that they had buckets of the beer on stage – but still wanted more.
Over at the small BMI Stage, one could see why BMI thinks that Australia’s Chase Atlantic is going to be big, doing electro-rock that is so hot right now. But they also seemed like the kind of electro-rock would-be-stars that you can’t stand. Bonus points, though, for having a saxophone [and your correspondent likes any act with the name ‘Chase’…]
Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator became infamous for fronting the act’s wild, anarchic shows – but that was years ago by this point (QRO photos at a 2011 festival). Is he still a big draw? Yes, definitely, by the giant crowd for him at the Grant Park Stage. And he still can produce well-crafted, incisive rhymes (and still dresses like a kid…), though he was also giving party advice, such as instructing the many different mosh pits to coalesce, and closed with a sing-along to “See You Again”. Plus your correspondent’s photographer brushed shoulders with the man during Post Malone’s set, and nearly fainted.
While The Neighbourhood attempted to throw back by demanding all photos of their Tito’s Stage set be in black & white, throwing way back was Greta Van Fleet at the American Eagle Stage. After cancelling New York’s Panorama the weekend prior (QRO recap), they and their seventies psych-rock channeling came in force to Lollapalooza. They do sound a lot like Led Zeppelin, even dress like them. But if they aren’t moving music forward, they are at least bringing this sound to a new young audience that knows way less about rock ‘n’ roll.
Back over at the Grant Park Stage, Walk the Moon brought a big, upbeat electro-party. Even if their recorded material has declined, they’re still great live – and they still wear face paint. Of course they closed with their breakthrough ‘song of the summer’ (of 2010…), “Anna Sun”.
Then there was Post Malone at the Bud Light Stage. Earlier in the day there, Parquet Courts singer A. Savage joked, “I’ve longed for that day when I’d be playing for confused, slightly disgruntled Post Malone fans,” referring to the Malone lovers (undoubtedly white guys with braids) who had camped out for a good spot at the stage early. Lollapalooza always has those very current hits that you love or hate – interestingly, they usually don’t headline, no matter how hot they are at the time.
Another act that’s very big right now is the hip-hop/boy band collective Brockhampton, who hit the side American Eagle stage, despite being well big enough for a main one. The crowd was massive for the smaller, tree-dotted spot. The group is only months removed from having to kick out member Ameer Vann for accusations of sexual misconduct, and subsequent hiatus (QRO photos at a festival after kicking him out, before the hiatus), yet it hasn’t dimmed interest in them (though has delayed their much-waited-for debut full-length, Team Effort).
At 8:30 PM, Lollapalooza-goers faced a headliner choice: Bruno Mars vs. The National vs. Dillon Francis. Of course Bruno Mars won out, with an ultra-giant crowd at the Grant Park Stage. He’s a major crossover star, in that his appeal has crossed over into almost every group of people (thus all of his Grammy wins this year), which at Lollapalooza made for a crowd that very definitely included both teens and their parents (particularly moms). He delivered on what people came there for (including, yes, “Uptown Funk”), an easily enjoyable and accessible set, complete with fireworks.
The kind of people who go to Lollapalooza for the EDM Perry’s Tent closed it out with Dillon Francis, and you can judge them however you will (Francis has earned points for playing James Van Der Beek-as-stupid-Diplo’s even stupider best friend on VICELAND’s What Would Diplo Do?).
But if you didn’t want the mainstream-est of popular music at your Lollapalooza, you went to the Bud Light Stage for The National. And there weren’t that many of you – for a headlining set at one of the two main stages, the crowd wasn’t exactly massive. But that made it a special headline set, one where you weren’t stuck in a thronging mass and too tired to enjoy the act that you’d actually paid the big Lollapalooza bucks for.
Singer Matt Berninger was in a great mood, making numerous jokes and going into the crowd. He dedicated “Afraid of Everyone” to Mark Zuckerberg, though even he didn’t know why. “Bloodbuzz Ohio”, on the other hand, was specifically sent out to Aftab Pureval, who’s running to topple a Republican Congressman in their native Cincinnati. The group has gotten more political in recent years (but who hasn’t?), and Berninger told the Chicago crowd to vote in their own local elections.
More humorous on the political end was Berninger saying, “I’m actually wearing a new perfume tonight – it’s called ‘Manafort’. It stinks.” Even the normally stoic guitarist Bryce Dessner laughed at that (or maybe it was his brother & fellow guitarist Aaron – always hard to tell them apart, as they don’t have wildly different haircuts & instruments like actual twins, drummer Bryan & bassist Scott Devendorf). And classic “Fake Empire”, from 2007’s Boxer (QRO review), “Isn’t at all applicable to today. God, it was written about Bush…”
Other, non-political comments included dedicating “I Need My Girl” to his wife, “Because she’s awesome – to all our wives. Some are better than others…” “Slow Show” was dedicated to where they were staying, the Langham Hotel, with a blinking “gilded” building next door – but Langham has blackout curtains. “Carin at the Liquor Store” was sent out to their audio engineer Evan Middlesworth, “‘Evan at the Liquor Store’ didn’t sound as cool.” [note: it’s actually named after his wife, Carin] Berninger noticed the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage across from them, and said that the band could use some of that up there. Undoubtedly drinking, Berninger is the fun kind of drunk on stage.
None of this took away from the music. Indeed, it’s great how the band’s upbeat mood contrasts with their tragic material. While their set the night before at their intimate Lollapalooza after-show at The Metro (QRO live review) naturally focused on their most recent record, last year’s Sleep Well Beast (QRO review), their festival performance stretched wider across their career. So there were great Sleep songs like “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness” and “Day I Die”, but there were also much older pieces like “Fake Empire” and “Mr. November”, back-to-back. Indeed, the set/evening ended with “About Today”, from their self-titled 2001 debut album.
Just between “Empire”/“November” and “Today” was “Terrible Love” (from 2010’s High Violet – QRO review) – and Berninger jumping into the crowd for one more time. And this time he went deep, mike chord in tow, held up by roadies and fans. At one point he was lifted up by the fans to sing to the entire crowd, and closed it by effectively making his way all through the crowd and back to the photo pit [including right by your correspondent, which was pretty much the best thing ever…].
Saturday at Lollapalooza ’18 was a hot one, quite literally, with temperatures way up there and the sun beating down on Grant Park. This made it hard to bounce from stage to stage, especially from one end of the long festival grounds to the other.
But did increase the appeal of the Bud Light Dive Bar Stage, thanks to its shade (and Bud Light). Sur were playing it for the second time in a week, after having done it last weekend at New York’s Panorama (QRO photos). Their sexy modern blues-rock definitely appealed to the kind of Lollapalooza attendees who would go to the small, heavily sponsored stage. Another nice aspect of it was that the acts played on the same floor as the fans, not the big, distant stages of the rest of Lollapalooza, which made it easy for Sur’s singer to go into the crowd.
Meanwhile right over at the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage was Tank & The Bangas, who brought their big, brassy sound & persona to Lollapalooza. Highlights included “Smoke.Netflix.Chill”, because they’re just the right sort of band to have a song about that modern activity. They later played the Bud Light Dive Bar Stage as well. Meanwhile, Pale Waves played in at least some shade at the American Eagle Stage, though the gothic act is used to real darkness.
Things were not working out so well for next at Tito’s, Lil Pump. First, the rapper came on late (totally living up to the stereotype). Then he had to keep stopping as fans kept passing out from the heat and EMTs had to be called in. Indeed, at one point he went into the photo pit to try to help, which only made things worse, as fans pushed forward to get a picture of him. And there were problems with his sound cutting off. He seemingly spent more time on the stage arguing with management than actually performing. These kinds of things do unfortunately happen at Lollapalooza (and most any festival), but rarely all for the same performance.
It was all much better at the south end Grant Park Stage for Catfish & The Bottlemen. Like Friday’s Greta Van Fleet, Catfish aren’t exactly reinventing rock ‘n’ roll with their throwback sound, but do have a big stadium sound. One could definitely see why people like them.
The Bud Light Stage featured a notable booking in rapper/actor – by this point, actor/rapper – LL Cool J. His musical career goes back to when Lollapalooza was a touring festival, but he’s since become best known for starring on NCIS: Los Angeles (and thus is the toughest rapper playing a cop on TV this side of Ice T). Yet he’s recently been pushing to revive classic rap, such as with his new Sirius XM station Rock the Bells Radio, and advocated for its resurgence at Lolla ’18. He worked very well with DJ Z-Trip, who actually manipulated sounds (even used turntables) instead of just pressing play & cashing the check (like so many at the EDM Perry’s Tent) – and LL opened with “Mama Said Knock You Out”, in case you weren’t paying attention. Indeed, it was quite a contrast with the chaos of the brand new Lil Pump, showing that veteran professionalism wins out.
But if you wanted modern pop, there was Carly Rae Jepsen at the Lake Shore Stage. Okay, we are years removed from “Call Me Maybe”, but she’s definitely held her own since then, no maybe about it. Hell, she was given a (fake) sword by fans, because Carly Rae Jepsen does totally deserve a sword. It is interesting how she is welcomed even by the indie crowd – hell, two years ago she played Chicago’s hipster Pitchfork Festival (QRO photos)…
True indie songstress graced the Bud Light Stage: Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent. Her artistic craft has been more & more perfected, album-to-album, most recently on this year’s MASSEDUCTION (QRO review), and that comes through in her live show. But what was notable was that her live performance, which can be a bit too perfect at times, leaned more into the loose rock at Lollapalooza. Admittedly it was quite similar to her set the weekend prior at Panorama in New York (QRO photos), including the ‘traffic cone orange’ color to her outfit (though it was a more traditional dress, and not some get-up out of Aeon Flux), and that included closing with “New York” – but this time updated it to sing, “Chicago isn’t Chicago without you…”
On the more mainstream end of things, after Daniel Caesar sang at the American Eagle Stage, back on the southern end of the festival, was the big EDM singer and presence of Logic, who at the Grant Park Stage did distinguish himself from the ‘push the button and press play’ of Perry’s Tent (if also had a rather aggressive crowd). Following that, across at the Lake Shore Stage, was Dua Lipa, a hot pop star with the chops & big audience to prove it.
When the Lollapalooza 2018 schedule was announced, there were countless jokes about Vampire Weekend vs. The Weeknd, Saturday at 8:30 PM. First off, jokes about The Weeknd’s name can’t beat Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update’s ‘The Weeknd Update’ (though VW never got that when they played). And the two acts, while both headline-worthy, are not very similar. Plus jokes about band names are kind of weak in general.
And the real kids were ignoring both and going to blackbear spin & more at Perry’s Tent.
Obviously The Weeknd had the larger crowd, because this isn’t the nineties or even the aughts, and pretty much every time it was rock vs. hip-hop or any other genre at Lollapalooza ’18, rock had the smaller crowd. But Vampire Weekend’s set was arguably more interesting, because while The Weeknd’s was part of summer festival tour (which was supposed to include the weekend prior’s Panorama before it was rained out – QRO recap – and would include San Francisco’s Outside Lands the weekend after – QRO preview), Vampire Weekend were playing their first live shows in four years (indeed their first festival performance since 2014), their first without founding member Rostam Batmanglij, and their first with their new, expanded, live line-up.
Just in case you weren’t aware it was something new, Vampire Weekend opened by playing “A-Punk” – three times in a row. That would be annoying with a lot of songs from a lot of bands, but that piece’s catch works on repeat. The group played all sorts of old hits, like “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” and “Oxford Comma”, along with more recent material.
And they promised even more recent material was coming, i.e. a fourth album that was already done. However, Vampire Weekend didn’t play anything from the new record, still re-finding their footing and all that, but did hit up covers of Dusty Springfield’s “Son of Preacher Man” and the oh-so-appropriate “Saturday In the Park” by Chicago – not to mention bassist Chris Baio doing the Seinfeld theme song.
Thankfully for the last day of Lollapalooza 2018, it wasn’t quite as hot as before. Still, most folks were moving a little slower, this far into the festival.
Not moving slow was Durand Jones & The Indications, who were having a big soul party at the Lake Shore Stage, while the bright, young electro-pop outfit Frenship fit with the crowd at the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage.
Rex Orange County’s crowd, meanwhile, spilled all across the tree-shaded American Eagle Stage, packed with all the teens that you hate just by looking at them [at least if you’re a cranky old person like your correspondent]. Yes, there were kids climbing trees, as there had been there all week – even worse were when kids would climb installed poles, like at Gucci Mane, threatening to bring not just themselves but the poles down on the crowd below (police were literally ready to clear out the whole area at Bud Light Stage).
Things were easier at the Bud Light Dive Bar Stage, with not just shade, but seats. Jaira Burns had smooth, easy electro-R&B (plus a self-described ‘squirt guy’ with portable mister – and his kid). Another smooth, soulful songstress Morgan Saint played the small stage later on.
If you’d heard The Vaccines’ fun new record, Combat Sports (QRO review), you definitely wanted to catch them at Lollapalooza, as it seemed perfect for a festival. The U.K. band has been rather overrated in the past, but delivered on that record & at Bud Light Stage. Energetic frontman Justin Hayward-Young bounced around the stage when he wasn’t playing guitar – “Your Love Is My Favorite Band” is just a great festival song. They also did the brand new “Let’s Jump Off the Top” – but didn’t “Put It On a T-Shirt” (indeed, Hayward-Young was wearing a long-sleeve jersey, though it aided his ‘mock strongman’ persona).
Back on the south end were songstresses. Admittedly, rising star Kali Uchis was having some problems, though her band was on point. Better was the more veteran Lykke Li, returning to Lollapalooza (QRO photos at Lollapalooza ’14). One might suspect that her ethereal sound would wilt in the hot midday outdoor sun, but she more than held her own.
Another returnee from 2014 was Manchester Orchestra (QRO photos at Lollapalooza ’14) at Lake Shore Stage. Their big, emotional rock is well-placed for this festival, mainstream enough for the young crowd, indie enough for the hipsters, rock enough for the headbangers, emotional enough for the emo set. They have friends in all the right places.
Also holding it up for rock ‘n’ roll was Grant Park Stage’s Portugal. The Man. They’ve definitely grown from their rambling grunge indie days – a hit like last year’s “Feel It Still” will do that for you. Their presence on stage included a cellist, and singers in jerseys of their native Portland Trailblazers. In today’s somewhat weak climate for rock, it’s impressive that they’ve gotten so big, after so much time, though not totally surprising, as their psych has always been quite accessible. Still, no one could have predicted “Feel It Still”.
Bonus points for Portugal’s hilarious messages on the screen above them. “Don’t worry, we’re playing that song after this” was projected during the song before “Feel It Still”. But the best was, “That’s right kids, no computers, just live instruments.” The DJs were at Perry’s Tent, while the rappers like Gucci Mane and Lil Uzi Vert were at the Bud Light Stage.
Shoulder-riding is pretty much always annoying at festivals, girls talking their trying-to-be-macho boyfriends into boosting them so that they can feel special, while security has to immediately try to wave them down. The one exception was at Chromeo’s Lake Shore Stage set, where the disco duo announced that they’d made a deal with the festival to let people shoulder-ride or their song “Over Your Shoulder”. Basically a totally classic cheesy-awesome Chromeo move from a cheesy-awesome band (who was also returning after playing 2014 – QRO photos at Lollapalooza ’14).
Surprised to be returning was Grant Park Stage headliner Jack White, who described how, the last time he was at Lollapalooza, he had trashed his trailer as much as he could. But the ornery musician (QRO live review of concert cut short) was in particularly good spirits this time around (a big reason was the time he’d spent earlier at Wrigley Field, including changing the scoreboard for an Anthony Rizzo home run). He told a story of his daughter giving him a guitar pick after trashing his trailer, the guitar pick he used that night for “We’re Going To Be Friends”. Sure, the crowd wasn’t the size of Bruno Mars on Friday, as the kids were trying to decide between DJs ODESZA at the Bud Light Stage, DJs Excision at Perry’s Tent, and soon-to-be-Frank Ocean-collaborator Playboi Carti at American Eagle Stage, plus it was Sunday, but it was a fun way to end the festival.
[note: 16-year-old Evan Kitzmiller from Mundelein, IL was found unresponsive at the end of Sunday at Lollapalooza, and was taken to a hospital where he passed away]
Lollapalooza has grown greatly since it became a Chicago festival, and that has definitely meant getting away from its alternative rock roots, and encompassing nearly all shades of popular young music. There are elements of that which can be frustrating, such as swimming upstream through the masses headed to Lollapalooza-of-today Bruno Mars, when you want to see would-have-fit-better-on-nineties-Lollapalooza The National, or really anytime one encountered the EDM Perry’s Tent and its throngs of teenagers wearing next to nothing [your correspondent couldn’t help but feel creepy, seeing all the likely underage girls wearing short shorts and just a bra as a top…].
But it also means that there’s definitely something at the festival for everyone, and one isn’t exposed to just the artists one already knows & likes. It can be an interesting barometer of music, such as exposing the current weak period for rock, or the distinct rise across genres in artists of color & female artists. If there’s someone who’s a disappointment, there’s also someone who’s a surprise – and someone who’s just as good as you’d hoped that they would be.
Lollapalooza is also impressive for doing all of this, being a big tent of a festival, while also being in one of the biggest cities in the country. No Bonnaroo camping, or Coachella glamping. It’s a festival that parents are okay sending their kids too, that is well managed and not muddy (or worse), where you can see huge artists but still sleep in your own bed at night (or hotel, Airbnb, or friend’s couch…). Only Austin City Limits Festival can really match it as an in-city event (and ACL is run by the same people who do Lollapalooza).
Also, for 2018 incredible props to the weather: i.e., no rain. Stormy skies are more and more not just the bane, but also possibly the death of festivals, as the fests have to play it safe and cancel things, which only drives future insurance up, and future attendance down. Yes, it got very hot at times at Lollapalooza ’18, but heat doesn’t squelch performances/days, doesn’t ruin your clothes & gear, doesn’t short out equipment, etc.
There are those who poo-poo festivals, particularly wide-spanning ones like Lollapalooza, who think that the future is genre-specific, curated events that everyone just watches on their screens. But there is still a lot to be said for going to one of the biggest musical events in the world.
-words: Ted Chase
-photos: Andy Braz