CHICAGO — For a huge festival that prides itself on its cutting-edge lineup, Lollapalooza’s headliners Friday didn’t fit the criteria.
We’re at a point though where the Lolla lineup almost doesn’t matter; the 400,000-capacity Chicago mega-fest essentially sells out each year before the artists are announced. And there was still plenty of new and now acts Friday, along with standout veterans.
Here are five takeaways from Lollapalooza’s second day.
A classy move from the Killers, a flaming expletive from Blink: Lolla’s been fun, but Muse fans are still in a state of mourning after the band’s Lolla set ended after just three songs due to a downpour Thursday. So the Killers Friday did a solid and covered Muse’s Starlight, along with Disarm from Chicago rock royalty Smashing Pumpkins, building up to sweeping sing-alongs to its’ own unstoppable anthems All These Things That I’ve Done and Mr. Brightside.
Blink-182, on the other hand, had the f-word on stage in flames, so there’s that. Travis Barker is still a terror on the drums, but the band largely coasted on nostalgia, tainted nostalgia at that, without DeLonge’s essential whine.
Making their mark: Mondo Cozmo sure had one hell of a record release show. Early Friday morning the rising folk-flavored rocker’s debut full-length Plastic Soul dropped, and by 1:50 p.m. that afternoon, he was playing to a hearty crowd at Lollapalooza that fell into a hush for some whispered a cappella at the tip of the climax for breakout anthem Shine.
Like Cozmo, fellow newcomer Bishop Briggs blends folk, pop, soul and rock and unstoppable confidence, her voice soaring effortlessly Friday during set opener Dark Side, even if her excitable jumping undermined the brooding.
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Icelandic rock band Kaleo first bent ears with the precious All The Pretty Girls and stormy, swampy slow-burner Way Down We Go, but frontman and guitarist JJ Julius Son’s voice is far more powerful live, coming off like an earthier Robert Plant Friday for blistering blues rockers Hot Blood and No Good, before the band dialed down the heat for a smoldering cover of Nancy Sinatra’s Bang Bang.”
English producer Mura Masa did both more and less than the DJ bros over at the Perry’s stage. Instead of flames or steam blasters, he had a phenomenal frontwoman in Fliss, who flung herself full body into the beats, and successfully covered for the tracks’ big name collaborators like A$AP Rocky. And instead of predictable bass drops and builds, Mura Masa triggered a massive dance party with the unexpected, seasoning chill wave grooves with warm samples of steel drums, bamboo flutes and live percussion.
Enlightenment with a beat: With booths in Grant Park for Black Lives Matter and Our Music My Body, Lollapalooza has its finger on the pulse of public consciousness. So did Wisconsin Rapids native Jidenna at his Lolla set Friday afternoon, addressing racial strife on Knickers and Long Live the Chief, and spinning sexy R&B track “Trampoline” into an empowering feminist anthem. There was plenty of sugar to help the medicine go down, with Jidenna frequently getting his groove on in a dapper suit, but there’s clearly a hunger for songs of social substance, even at a party mecca like Lolla.
Among the veterans, Run the Jewels rules: If any act deserved to play Lolla on likely the coolest day in the fest’s Chicago history, it’s Tegan and Sara, who had to cancel mid-set 12 years ago because of heat stroke. (Sara even passed out.) The pop sisters kept their set chill Friday, making frothy synthesizers and yearning lyrics for songs like Back In Your Head and How Come You Don’t Want Me the focal point.
Ryan Adams also let the songs largely speak for themselves, starting with Do You Still Love Me? from new post-breakup album Prisoner (following Adams’ divorce from Mandy Moore), and flying through heartland rockers like Give Me Something Good early in the set. For a crowd largely of thirty-to-fifty-somethings, a rare sight at Lolla, it was all they could want and need.
Straightforward won’t cut it for hip-hop, and Run the Jewels know that. The pairing of veteran rappers Killer Mike and El-P is more popular than they were individually, and El-P promised to give its show in front of a packed crowd their all. They delivered and then some, spitting verses with and at each other with breathtaking speed and skill, over thumping beats to Panther Like a Panther and Blockbuster Night Part One. They also invited a fan on the stage to rap along to Legend Has It, with Killer Mike paying the ultimate respect by hoisting the guy on his shoulder.
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