This year's Lollapalooza, held in Chicago's Grant Park, featured multiple stages and ran for four days. This was the second year, following last year's 25th anniversary, where the festival ran for four days instead of the usual three. Each day featured a great range of music genres for everyone in the all ages festival to enjoy. For a large portion of the weekend, you would've found me and the other Dance Music fans at the Perry's stage. This stage was where a majority of the EDM artists played over the weekend.
Day One Highlights
My drive from Minneapolis to Chicago was much smoother this year. Last year I hit storms, construction and Chicago rush hour. This time around I only ran into a little rain. The construction was still there, but there was less of it, and I had a shortcut to my Air BnB to avoid traffic! I knew I would be having an incredible weekend in Chicago because, as if on cue, the theme from “Family Matters” was playing on Sway In The Morning as I pulled into the city. After checking into my Air BnB and a quick shower, I was ready to hit my second Lollapalooza.
It felt so familiar entering the festival. The stage layout was the same as last year. That was lucky for me, because I was running late to catch one of the acts I was excited to see, Golf Clap. I remembered the path to the Perry's stage, located on one of the smaller baseball fields, which already had a decent size crowd for being 1:00 on Day One.
After catching Golf Clap wrap up their House set, it was already time for my first stage-hop of the weekend. I hit the main strip of Lollapalooza, Columbus Drive, then cut right on Jackson Drive to the BMI stage. Here, I would find MAX, a vocalist who has been blowing up lately with a lot of features on EDM tracks. This year's Lollapalooza would be his first festival performance. MAX performed a lot of his solo tracks, including “Lights Down Low”, a track which he sang after proposing to his girlfriend.
I was fortunate enough to have a nice chat with Tritonal before heading back to Perry's. We talked about what's their involvement in their stage production, Trance, and collaborations. At Perry's, one of my favorite producers, Paper Diamond, was throwing down some of his classics like “Wylin”. Since the gates for Lolla had been open for a couple hours, the crowd at Perry's was now much bigger, and wasted no time raging out. Unfortunately, some were already raging so hard so early into the festival that I saw a decent number of passed out or puking attendees. On the upside, Paper Diamond ended with a great message to the diverse crowd saying to love one another and that, “music is a community that brings people together”.
There were chances of rain all day on Day One, the first rainfall hit when Cheat Codes took to the Perry's stage. The light rain was welcomed because it was also the hottest day of the festival. Cheat Codes opened with “Sex”, played their big hit “No Promises” in their set and wrapped things up with their collaboration with David Guetta and Robin Schulz, “Shed A Light”.
The rain later cleared and I headed to the Pepsi stage to catch Gryffin. On my way towards the Pepsi stage, I noticed that there was a new addition to Lolla, a skating rink! They played music from the Perry's stage over the speakers, had disco balls, CO2 colorful lighting.
I've heard great things about Gryffin live, and he did not disappoint. Gryffin performed tracks like “Whole Heart” and his remix of “Talking Bodies” on a piano and multiple guitars throughout his whole set. He kept the guitar going for his last song, “Feel Good”, his collaboration with Illenium.
I was very excited to wrap up Day One because it was my first time seeing Porter Robinson live. Even better, the weather had changed back to a soft rain, creating one of the most intimate experiences possible. Words can't describe watching a Porter Robinson set in the rain. It couldn't have been a more perfect atmosphere, until it suddenly wasn't so perfect because the weather picked up and forced Lollapalooza to evacuate.
Day Two Highlights
Day Two started as a cold and windy morning in Chicago. The weather definitely impacted the crowd, including myself, early on as we seemed a bit slower on this day. That later changed when San Holo hopped on the Perry's stage. “We're going to try something a little different”, San Holo said, and then proceeded to play “Lights” on guitar. He kept the flow rolling with more random guitar riffs and lots of Hip Hop remixes.
After a great interview with Gryffin, I checked out Slushii's set. His set consisted of lots of festival bass bangers, as well as some classic tracks like “Sandstorm” and “Zombie Nation”. There was also a special appearance from Ookay, also performed at Perry's earlier that day. Slushii surprised Chicago later that night when he tweeted that he would be handing out free slushies at the nearby 7 Eleven.
I made my way to the Bud Light stage to catch Tegan & Sara, another performance I've always wanted to see live. I noticed I large “T &S” in pink and blue stripes as I approached the stage. Sara had jumped in the crowd to poke some fun at the VIP section. They wrapped up the set with “Boyfriend” and “Closer”.
I caught some of 3LAU's hard Progressive set as I walked by Perry's on my way to Run The Jewels at the Grant Park stage. The large stage area of Grant Park was packed, and everyone was singing along to tracks like “Nobody Speak”. In fact, one fan was even holding a sign that said “Let me rap ‘Legend Has It'”. That fan was brought up on stage and did just that, Rapped the opening verses of “Legend Has It” next to Run The Jewels.
Rumor had it that there would be a special surprise performance at the Perry's stage before DJ Snake. I arrived there to find myself at Gramatik's performance reading his visuals with sayings like “Stop censorship, save net neutrality” and other free internet messages.
The rumors came true after Gramatik's set and Chicago's own Vic Mensa hit the stage. The large crowd in front of me rushed the stage as they screamed. Vic's surprise performance included “Rollin' Like A Stoner” and “We Could Be Free”, a song dedicated to all those lost on the streets of Chicago.
DJ Snake closed out Perry's that night. The beginning of his set was full of hard-hitting tracks like “Turn Down For What”. Towards the end of the night, Snake slowed things up a bit and played “You Know You Like It”. The large screens on the sides of the screen glowed red while an animated Bonnie and Clyde story played out to “Let Me Love You” to end Day Two.
Day Three Highlights
I decided to take some time to sit back and enjoy the music to enjoy the start of Day Three. I hit the main strip, grabbed some Wow Bao, and walked to the Tito's Vodka Bandshell. I found a spot on the grassy hill to enjoy my lunch while listening to Flint Eastwood. Everyone down deep in the bandshell was dancing with their hands in the air to “Small Victories”.
One of the fails I witnessed multiple times over the Lollapalooza weekend was the attempt from the DJs to get the crowd to ‘sit down' at the Perry's stage. However, when I hit the Pepsi stage, rapper Michael Christmas successfully got the crowd to pull one off. I have to give him props, he made the ‘sit down' fun for the crowd and playfully messed with those left standing, making the whole situation less awkward. After that, the crowd was hooked and sang along to “Not The Only One”.
I had some free time until Ephwurd performed back at Perry's, so I made my way to the Pepsi No Chill House tucked away in the middle of the festival. Every time I walked by earlier throughout the festival, there was always a huge line. I hopped in line to see what all the hype was about. Before I knew it, I was dancing in front of a camera with CO2 shooting behind me and jumping in a foam pit. It was worth the stop! I found out later that A-Trak also stopped by to check out the No Chill House on Day One and jump in their foam pit.
Now holding a fresh can of Pepsi Zero Sugar in my hand, I made my way to see Ephwurd. Because the talent of Datsik and Bais Haus make up the duo, it was no surprise that they rocked a stacked crowd. They played Bass House bangers like their huge track with Jauz, “Rock The Party”. The visuals of their whole set had grabbed my attention. They had replaced logos of major brands like Best Buy and Subway with ‘Ephwurd' and funny sayings.
I had the amazing opportunity to meet one of my heroes, Kaskade. We chatted about family life and throwback tracks. Before I knew it, the interview was over and it was time to see Alison Wonderland. I caught the YourEDM article the day before about how she was premiering her new visuals at her Lolla set. Alison teamed up with Microsoft to display some sick silhouette visuals using two Microsoft Kinects and a Microsoft Surface. During the set, Alison yelled “I want you to fuck me up on a spiritual level”, a saying that got huge screams from the crowd. The saying was something she came up with during EDC Orlando, and also the name of her upcoming album.
Kaskade was in charge of closing Perry's on Day Three. As I walked around looking for the perfect spot, I ran into a Kaskade fam holding white flags with patterns and black ‘kaskade' lettering. Before long, the lights dimmed and flickered to the beat of a mix of “I Remember” and “Look Into My Eyes”. Kaskade was starting!
Not long into the set when tempo picked up, one guy nearby was trying to start a mosh pit. The chill Kaskade crowd wasn't having it and put a stop to his attempt away. A move that might've worked at a majority of the sets earlier in the day, but this was Kaskade. Who does that? Kaskade had gotten on the mic and said “Summertime in Chicago. It doesn't get much better than this!” and played his version of “Summertime Sadness”. There was also a mix of slowed down The Weeknd vocals played over “Another Night Out”, which was great.
As hard as it would be to top Kaskade, there was no one better to close out Day Three other than the hometown hero, Chance The Rapper. I rushed across the main strip to the Grant Park stage where Chance was performing. I stood on a hill and looked into the sea of people while Chance sang “All Night”. There was a surprise guest appearance from Francis and the Lights to perform the remix of “May I Have This Dance” and “Summer Friends”. Although I missed it, Vic Mensa reunited with Chance earlier in the set. Finally, Chance went out to a large fireworks display while performing “Same Drug”.
That night after Lollapalooza, I headed over to the iconic the MID for an after party. Ephwurd tore up the decks and had a crazy b2b2b2b with Dr. Fresch, Ookay, and Getter. Alison Wonderland then hopped up and performed a more club friendly set than at Lolla, but was still stellar.
Day Four Highlights
The last day of Lollapalooza hinted at similar weather as the chilly Day Two. However, when I arrived at the festival, the heat picked back up with a little fire from Dirty Audio's set at Perry's. He threw down some dirty bass tracks like his new track “Firewalker” and a banging remix of Rick Ross's “Trap Trap Trap”.
Across the way, I checked out a committed set from Machine Gun Kelly. MGK dove right into the music with “Alpha Omega”, saying that he didn't want to do introductions just yet. While the soft grey clouds loomed over the stage, MGK performed an emotional cover of Linkin Park's “Numb”. I felt the contagious emotions from the crowd, who spontaneously yelled “Chester!” during the cover. The numb cover transitioned to “Kiss The Sky”, and wrapped up with MGK yelling “I've become so numb!” before hurling his guitar across the stage.
At the Toyota Music Den, ‘Whethan & Friends' were set to perform at 2:00. I had to run over to see who Whethan was going to bring out. To my surprise, Dr. Fresch and Robby from Louis The Child were on stage! Together they threw down a fun set that had everything from What So Not's “How High You Are” to a sax remix of T-Pain's “Buy U A Drank”.
I stopped in at another crowded Perry's stage for JOYRYDE on my way back to the Lake Shore stage. After some technical issues, JOYRYDE pulled the crowd back in with a “Bad And Boujee” remix. The crowd stayed for a bass heavy set of hip hop remixes and Bass House.
Eventually I ended up where I intended to go, the Lake Shore stage. Here I would witness my favorite vocal performance of the weekend, London Grammar. Lead vocalist Hannah Reid blew me away with “Hey Now” and “Wasting My Young Years”.
At this point in the evening, it seemed like everyone at Lollapalooza had the same idea. Go to the Bud Light stage early for a spot to see Big Sean. There was already a large crowd nearby at the Tito's Bandshell watching Lil' Yachty. I took that time to check out the “Jane Says” wall. This wall had different messages every day of the festival that people could be a part of. On that day, everyone was let loose and could draw whatever they wanted inside of white silhouettes of random characters and the Chicago skyline. When Big Sean hit the Bud Light stage, the overwhelming crowd sang along to hits like “Moves” and “Clique”. Big Sean also took some time during his set to tell people to follow their dreams, which queued up “Change The World”.
The final sets of the festival seemed like the hardest decisions for many, including myself. Joey Bada$$, Zeds Dead, Whethan, Arcade Fire, and Justice all performed in about the same time slot. I had to check out Whethan again and of course Justice. Luckily, Whethan was at Tito's and Justice started right after at the nearby Bud Light stage.
Whethan's set was one of the most entertaining performances I caught all weekend. He kicked things off with a collaboration with the Chicago Bulls' drum line, then brought out special guests like Oliver Tree, MAX, and Louis The Child. As someone who became a fan of a Whethan's career since he dropped “Savage”, I was proud of the young Chicago native to be closing down Lollapalooza in such a big way.
I had told myself all day that Justice would be the set where I would find a spot to chill in the grass and take in the music. From the moment those first keys were played from Justice, I knew I would be on my feet. Maybe it was the fact this this was the end of a four day festival, the mesmerizing production, or the beautiful progressive tracks of Justice, but I found myself lost in the moment. A nearby Lolla goer named Jay noticed me vibing out and said “This really is amazing! Let's go in!”. Moments like that are what Lollapalooza is all about, a shared love for the music.
I would like to thank the fellow attendees of Lollapalooza, the Lolla staff and the wonderful city of Chicago for another amazing year!