Music

Janelle Monáe Fights for Rights, Childish Gambino Promotes Love at Lollapalooza Day Two

Day two of Lollapalooza brought a slew of more than 50 artists to the sponsored stages of Grant Park, with festival-goers enjoying a day of endless music as the warm temperatures and overpriced drinks kept the summer vibes intact.

The second day of the festival featured enough singers, rappers and DJs to please even the most insatiable of attendees. There was even a surprise performance from Chicago’s very own Chance the Rapper, who joined alternative rock band Death Cab for Cutie for a collaboration of “Do You Remember” from Chance’s new and debut album, “The Big Day.”

As the day neared its end, guests had to choose between four acts for the last show of the night, with the options being Tame Impala, Bring Me The Horizon, Alesso and Childish Gambino.

That didn’t stop concert-goers from getting their money’s worth as they ran from stage to stage and pushed through the crowds to get a good look at their favorite artists, many of whom preached messages of love, peace or perseverance through their music.

Tierra Whack — American Eagle stage

“When I say ‘Whack,’ y’all say ‘Whack,’” said Philadelphia native rapper Tierra Whack, barely needed to prompt her audience — they followed her every step.

From the moment she emerged on American Eagle’s stage at 4 p.m. singing “Only Child,” Whack imbued festival-goers with so much energy it was palpable the moment one neared the crowd. Beginning with her hype man — who opened the set with a remix of “Misirlou” by Dick Dale and his Del-Tones, a song most recognized from “Pulp Fiction” — the momentum didn’t slow. 

Whack — outfitted in a pink ensemble with her face unmistakably plastered on — told her audience she couldn’t believe they were all gathered to see her. It was the best crowd she said, and the 23-year-old artist rewarded some by throwing merchandise into the throngs. Asking where the Leo’s with birthdays Friday were in the crowd, Whack asked some with hands raised what their names were and wished them a happy birthday. 

From singles “Wasteland” and “Unemployed” to pieces from her debut album “Whack World” (2018), Whack jumped around and interacted with her crowd, even jumping into the masses only to fuel the vitality of her set.

Maggie Rogers — Bud Light stage

Singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers reinvigorated the spirits of fans, preventing what could have been a midday slump. She danced freely across the stage — encouraging the crowd to do the same in the grass — to her anthems of self-reflection.

She opened with “Give a Little,” a track about getting what you put in, pushing fans to put their energy into belting out the lyrics alongside her. Rogers filled song after song with soul and passion, smiling the whole way through.

The Maryland-native skyrocketed to fame with a viral video of Pharrell Williams praising her track “Alaska” in a class at New York University. The crowd’s familiarity with the song showed as she pulled back on the mic and let the audience scream out the first verse and chorus a cappella. 

The ethereal and spiritual feel of her set makes it seem like the title of her debut album “Heard It in a Past Life” might not be too far off.

Janelle Monáe — T-Mobile stage

There was no possible mental preparation the crowd could have done when Janelle Monáe took the T-Mobile stage at 6:45 p.m. The singer/songwriter/rapper/actress/producer/dancer was a force of nature, showcasing elements of pop, hip-hop and rap in her set.

Her hour-long act included multiple costume changes, with Monáe mostly sporting her signature colors of red, black and white. Her sultry moonwalk left both men and women screaming for more as she glided effortlessly across stage with her four backup dancers. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was spotted enjoying the show from offstage as well.

Monáe took a political stance in the middle of the set, stopping to speak to the audience about current social issues and what she believes in.

“We fight for the rights of women,” Monáe said. “We fight for the rights of trans people. We fight for the rights of our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ+ community. We fight for people with disabilities. We are fighting for the rights of black folks. We’re fighting for the rights of immigrants. We’re fighting against the abuse of power. We’re fighting to have Donald Trump impeached.”

Many of the songs Monáe performed carried political messages, such as when she recognized racial inequality in “Crazy, Classic, Life,” rapped about gender inequality in “Django Jane” or sensitively sang about sexuality in “Pynk.”

Half of the set consisted of songs from her 2018 album, “Dirty Computer,” while the other half was made up of her past hits, such as “Q.U.E.E.N.” and “Electric Lady.” She closed the concert with a rendition of “Tightrope,” with her powerhouse of a voice riffing off the ending for several minutes.

Though Monáe wasn’t headlining the event, she performed with the swagger of a final act, pulling out every stop when it comes to visual and sonic entertainment, with her futuristic aesthetic reminding everyone the best is still yet to come.

Tame Impala — Bud Light stage

As dusk fell on the second day of Lollapalooza, Australian psychedelic pop rock group Tame Impala immersed thousands in a transcendent light show, validating the reason some fest-goers chose its set over Childish Gambino’s.

Still torn between the two corresponding headliners, some decided to dip out from Tame Impala’s psychedelic set early to catch part of Childish Gambino at the T-Mobile stage. 

But no matter — the band kicked off the night with a performance of “Let It Happen,” the popular, nearly eight-minute opening piece of “Currents,” the artist’s 2015, and most recent, album. The droning synths proved to be an epic journey, as those gathered on the warm night ebbed and flowed with the sounds and lights. 

Tame Impala — a project led by Kevin Parker — enclosed Bud Light stage attendees in a dome of neon colors and holographic images. For an hour and a half, the group reminded listeners sorrow can be drowned with melodic notes. 

Performing a montage of songs, Tame Impala does heartbreak songs differently than others. Mellow beats match the melancholic lyrics they’re set to. Both older songs, including “The Less I Know The Better,” “Apocalypse Dreams” and “The Moment,” as well as newly released singles “Borderline” and “Patience,” had similar effects on the dancing audience. 

Childish Gambino — T-Mobile stage

Rapper Childish Gambino had two rules for his audience at Lollapalooza: love yourself and no phones. Both aided the self-proclaimed Childish Gambino experience he was crafting. Donald Glover, under the stage name of Childish Gambino, said if someone wanted to simply listen to their favorite song, they should go home and do that — this was more than that. 

The experience began right away as Glover ran across the stage, down the stairs and along the barricade. He greeted fans and broke his own rule by taking selfies with them. The cameras streaming to the screens on the sides of the stage followed the rapper down the center aisle barricade, making the whole endeavour feel cinematic and engaging the crowd from front to back.

The cameras even followed him backstage during the break between the main set and encore. Glover managed to hype up the crowd equally sitting and sipping some water as he did on the stage.

Glover packed his set with tracks ranging from his Grammy award-winning “This Is America” to the hit “3005” off his album “Because the Internet.” The multi-talented rapper, actor, director, producer and comedian gave Lollapalooza the “Childish Gambino experience” that won’t soon be forgotten.

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