This was my second time covering Chicago’s Lollapalooza. The first time I went was back in 2013, when The Cure, Mumford & Sons, The Killers, and NIN headlined. Things have changed a lot in these 4 years. For starters, it is now a 4-day festival.
The city paralyzes completely during these 4 days. Around 12pm, you can see people everywhere walking towards Grant Park. They walk 1 or 2 miles at least. There’s no patience to wait for an Uber to get you there. Besides, you walk across the amazing streets of Chicago that for many, like me, is part of the journey of going to Lollapalooza.
When the clock hits 3pm, chaos begins. Traffic is almost impossible in the streets that lead to Grant Park. It’s peak time in lines to enter the festival. Some of them were really long, but overall, there was a great organization in all of the entrances.
For the first day of the festival I had to arrive a little late because of some flight issues. I wanted to get there on time to see Liam Gallagher perform live, which is the closest thing I will get to see Oasis, at least for now. The good news is I did arrive on time. I was entering festival grounds at about 4:30pm and I could hear Liam’s scratchy voice on distance. As I walked towards the Grant Park stage, I stopped hearing music and there was no one there. I saw my watch twice and checked the program to see if I was at the wrong stage. I wasn’t. I asked a few fans what was going on. “Yes, he was playing but he left the stage after 3 songs without saying a thing...” He did what?! I tried to see on Twitter what the f** was going on. All I found was that he left because he was having voice issues. So there you go, no Liam Gallagher this year.
So life goes on and we headed to a nearby stage, Lake Shore, where George Ezra would perform in a while. Watched half of his show (which was excellent) to catch a few songs from A R I Z O N A’s set, which was at the small but exciting BMI stage in the middle of the park.
It began to get really cloudy so I began to worry. Rain was in the forecast and I knew that at the first sign of thunders, the festival would be at risk. Still, Atlas Genius’s show went pretty well at the BMI stage. Everything was going fine so far.
Spoon was a must for me, so I came back to the Lake Shore stage for their show. The band included “Inside Out”, “I Turn My Camera On”, “Can I Sit Next To You”, “Don’t You Evah”, “Do You”, and “The Undergod” in their set.
After Spoon, I took the time to walk across the park and see the food options. I remember 4 years ago I saw lots of fans eating a lobster corndog that looked delicious. For some reason, I couldn’t get on at that time, but this year I did it and it was delicious! Believe me, if you go to Lollapalooza next year the lobster corndog should be part of your lineup.
The time for the final shows of day 1 finally arrived. Rain decided to arrive too. Muse went out and I was surprised they did. Rain was falling heavily. The crowd didn’t care. I didn’t either. Matt Bellamy is a true rockstar and he knows it. They began with new song “Dig Down” and continued with “Psycho”. They play “Hysteria” and the rain came more intense. Everyone was jumping and enjoying of the the band’s best songs. Unfortunately this was their last one. The band was instructed to leave the stage. “They’ve asked us to leave the stage, we don’t know why. We’re going to find out”. After a few minutes of uncertainty the announcement was made and everyone had to evacuate the park. Honestly, I was glad that the band were able to go out and perform because I knew the storm was inevitable. Matt Bellamy came out quickly to say goodbye to fans, which was a nice gesture.
For this festival weekend, we decided to stay at the Hard Rock Hotel. Last time we came to Lollapalooza, their were daily parties hosted every night after the festival. This time we got a nice surprise from Bed Head.
On day 2, things got a lot better. The weather was great and we arrived early to live the full Lolla experience. I had to miss Kaleo and Mura Masa because we had to be at the press area, but it was totally worth it. We first met the guys from Frenship. They were named Spotify’s #2 Breakout Artist of 2016, as “Capsize” has been streamed nearly 400 million times around the globe.This Fall they will go on tour with Bastille. They played two shows on Friday, one of them at the BMI stage. These guys should definitely be on your radar.
We also had the chance to meet UK band Blossoms. Their debut album peaked to No. 1 in the UK and now it has been released in America. Their Mercury Prize nomination confirms that this is not just another band. No wonder why they supported The Stone Roses in the legendary Wembley Stadium this past summer.
We divided our time to see Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and Ryan Adams. Andrew’s show was one of my favorite ones of the entire festival. He has great songs, a great voice, and he delivers a nice message between his songs. He even crowd surfed in a big inflatable duck.
Foster the People, who just released their new album, played at the Bud Light stage. They opened and closed their set with new songs “Pay the Man” and “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy”, the last one being a generic but fun song to end up their show. With three albums, the band has now a more diverse setlist and are ready to climb up at least one line in festival lineups.
As the night came, we went to the main stage to get ready for The Killers. Every time I see a post about this band I usually see a lot of negative comments towards them. I guess people are angry that they haven’t released music that sounds like their ‘Hot Fuss’ stuff. Naturally, they will never do it. They need to evolve and grow as a band. Of course it’s their choice if they do this the right way. With ‘Wonderful, Wonderful’, Brandon Flowers says that they have achieved this. Their opening song of the show, “The Man”, was powerful and the right choice to go with. The rest of the set was pretty much the same as it has been in the past 6 years. Still, a very enjoyable concert that we will probably see again in ACL. Read our review of The Killers‘ set in Lollapalooza here.
On Saturday, before we went to Tito’s stage to see Highly Suspect, we met rising synth pop band Flor. They performed at the BMI stage and an After Show at Schubas Tavern. They recently released their debut album ‘Come Out. You’re Hiding’ and are about to support Atlas Genius on several shows in North America. Here they are im their third and last attempt to make a boomerang for us.
Without planning it, we also met Dan Luke And The Raid, psych pop band consisting of Daniel Shultz (younger brother of Matt and Brad Shultz from Cage the Elephant), Kendrick Brent, Patrick Stewart, Dylan Graves, and Anthony Joiner.
At 4:00pm we went to Tito’s stage to watch for the first time Highly Suspect. For me, they’re one of the few new truly rock bands. I can see his lead singer Johnny Stevens becoming the next big rock n’ roll star. Their two albums have excellent lyrics and they have escalated real quick in the industry. Let’s see if they play their cards well. The only thing I didn’t like about their set..the terrible DJ that played before them. Not sure if he’s part of the band or what, but he sucked big time.
We had the chance to catch a few songs from alt-J and The Head and the Heart and after that we decided to go and visit Perry stage. Perry stage is like a completely separate festival. Filled with pure EDM, that stage is full all day long, mostly fans under 23.
The memorable performance of this year’s Lollapalooza was Chance the Rapper. This didn’t happen for no reason. The rapper has reached the top with no help other than the one from his loyal fans. He has supported many charitable causes, mainly in his hometown in Chicago. No wonder he got the biggest Lollapalooza crowd in years.
The final day of Lollapalooza was here. There’s always a nostalgic feeling during the last day of a festival, especially this one. But by the afternoon when Milky Chance took the Bud Light stage, the sadness was left behind. I didn’t realized how popular he was now. He was performing in one of the biggest stages of Lolla with a really big crowd. The biggest highlight of his set was when “Stolen Dance” was played.
The Shins and Grouplove got us prepared for the final two shows of the weekend: Arcade Fire and Justice.
Arcade Fire’s triumphant entrance began with “Everything Now”, one of their latest songs. But the true madness began at the end of “The Suburbs”, which immediately lead to “Ready to Start”. I’m glad they played these two songs during the middle of their set before I went to see Justice. As I arrived to the Bud Light stage I noticed there weren’t a lot of people. At least not for a headline act. Justice was enjoyable for true fans only. I like their songs, but I’m not a big fan, and I instantly regretted leaving Arcade Fire.
I like how Lollapalooza feels different from other festivals. You’re there and you know it’s something big. You can feel it. It is a different experience. It took me 4 years to return to this incredible festival. But what I lived during this weekend was enough for me to decide to return in 2018 for more. See you next year!