Arts & Entertainment

Lollapalooza Day One Brings Surprise Guests and Performances from Long-Time Artists

Charles Reagan Hackleman | Lollapalooza 2019Rock band The Strokes headlined Lollapalooza Thursday, Aug. 1. The five-piece band, fronted by Julian Casablancas, formed in 1998.

For nearly 30 years, Lollapalooza has been the definitive music festival of the Midwest, bringing artists from all over the world into the heart of the United States for four days, with 2019 being no exception.

While Lollapalooza is normally a must-attend for thousands, this year’s sales experienced a significant drop. Four-day passes sold out just days before the festival and all single-day passes, except Saturday, were still available the day of.

Lollapalooza kicked off Thursday with performers including The Strokes, Hozier and Rüfüs Du Sol, bringing a variety of alternative, hip-hop and pop music to the 28-year-old festival. Weather plays a major factor in festival experiences, and the warm, high-70-degrees day kept heat strokes at bay, letting attendees breathe while buried in the crowds of thousands.

One major change to the structure of this year’s event had some in internal conflict. In the past, one musician headlined each night, but this year has festival-goers choosing between The Strokes and The Chainsmokers Thursday, Tame Impala and Childish Gambino Friday, J Balvin and Twenty One Pilots Saturday, and Flume and Ariana Grande Sunday.

No festival is complete without an abundance of overpriced but temptingly amazing food options. Vendors, from Wow Bao to Harold’s Chicken Shack and Rogers Park’s own XO Marshmallo, lined Columbus Drive, offering everything from potstickers to fried chicken and frozen kefir to the hot and hungry concert-goers.

Despite this year’s lower sales, the crowds showed up decked out in neon mini skirts, cami crop tops and doused in glitter, showing no indication of boredom or festival-exhaustion as they ran from stage to stage to get the best views of their favorite artists.

Fitz and the Tantrums — Bud Light stage

Indie pop group Fitz and the Tantrums know how to make an audience clap its hands, and not only during its performance of its popular song “HandClap.”

The Los Angeles-based band— fronted by lead singer Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick — opened its set with the ear-infecting “Spark,” and did its best to keep that vivacious energy alive throughout the act.

The band’s best wasn’t always enough though. While the crowd clumped close to the Bud Light stage engrossed themselves in the performance, as those who try to get close-up normally do, the audience in the back mostly looked at their phones and chatted with those around, waiting to hear hits like “Fool’s Gold” and “HandClap.” 

During its time in the industry, Fitz and the Tantrums, like many bands, has its staple songs the majority of indie music fans know — “Out Of My League” and “The Walker” being some of Fitz’s. When those songs were performed, the audience was ignited by the familiar crowd-pleasers. But when Fitz introduced the recently released single “123456” and told the audience to sing along, they didn’t, probably because the song was so new that few memorized the lyrics. 

The closing performance of “HandClap” redeemed that energy and had attendees waving and clapping their heads as they made their way onto the next show. 

Hozier — T-Mobile stage

Hozier stepped onstage to the screams of thousands of loyal fans eager to get a good look at the six-foot-five singer. His band wasted no time, going directly into a performance of “Would That I” — a single from the artist’s 2019 album, “Wasteland, Baby!” — followed by “Dinner & Diatribes.”

The artist took a brief break from performing to explain his love for the city of Chicago and the music that hails from there.

“The majority of my influences come from here,” he said.

Those influences might include Chicago-born R&B singer Mavis Staples, as Hozier immediately began his politically-charged anthem, “Nina Cried Power (feat. Mavis Staples),” as visuals of historic protests played on the screen behind the band.

The Irish singer-songwriter was joined by fellow Lollapalooza act Maggie Rogers for his performance of “Work Song” — a surprise appearance that left many crying tears of joy. Rogers released her debut album in January of this year and has since become deeply beloved by fans of the alternative music scene. The pair’s voices melded into one onstage as Hozier sang the chorus and Rogers harmonized on the heart-aching ballad.

The singer closed his set with his most undoubtedly successful song from 2013, “Take Me to Church,” as the song’s music video, which follows the plight of two men who fall in love only for one to become the victim of a hate crime, played on the screen.

Rüfüs Du Sol — Bud Light stage

Following an appearance and introduction from Chicago’s newly elected Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Australian electronic group Rüfüs Du Sol’s three members Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George and James Hunt took on the Bud Light stage at 6:30 p.m. to showcase their indie dance as the sun began setting on Grant Park. 

Elevated on their own respective platforms and dressed in head-to-toe black, the trio indulged audiences in pieces from across all three albums, including “Sundream” off their debut album, “Atlas” (2014); “Like an Animal” and “Innerbloom” from “Bloom” (2016); and “Solace” and “Lost in My Mind” from their most recent album, “Solace” (2018). 

Rüfüs Du Sol emerged as one of Australia’s top electronic acts back at its inception in 2010 and its live set meets that standing. With lights shining on the screen behind the stage, lead singer Lindqvist was the only one to venture off his platform while singing, but the live dance music energized the audience as fuel for the remainder of the day’s sets. 

The Strokes — T-Mobile stage

Appearing on stage almost ten minutes after their scheduled start time of 8:45 p.m., rock band The Strokes headlined Lollapalooza at the T-Mobile stage Thursday — competing with The Chainsmokers, who headlined the Bud Light stage on the opposite end of Grant Park. Wearing what one might expect of a rock band — lots of black, band t-shirts and sunglasses — the five-piece band closed out the night with an energetic set. 

After 21 years on the scene — its inception was back in 1998 — The Strokes entertained audiences with its rock ‘n’ roll and whether the show lived up to its name in its heyday, younger audiences might not know, but many appeared pleased with Thursday’s show. Being a band that quickly amassed a large following, the majority of the gathered crowd sang along to most lyrics and screamed before the start of every song, including the opener “Heart in a Cage,” “Reptilia” and “You Only Live Once.” 

Known to be a more relaxed performer, lead singer Julian Casablancas clutched his microphone, propped his foot on a sound box and remained in that position for the majority of the more than hour-long set. 

With two songs left in its set, audiences began chanting “Someday, someday, someday,” begging The Strokes to play its well-known piece. It didn’t take long before the band geared up for its performance of “Someday,” only to leaving the stage afterwards in an attempt to trick the crowd. Only a minute later did the band return for one last showstopper. 

“We believe in drama,” Casablancas informed his audience, queuing the band into its performance of “Last Nite,” the band’s most popular song from its most popular album. The song’s well-known intro of repeated guitar riffs sent the thousands gathered at the T-Mobile stage into a frenzy — phones raised and voices loud. 

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