Under the blazing Chicago sun, Lollapalooza returned Thursday — for better or worse, as the city sees an average of nearly 200 new COVID-19 cases per day, according to Chicago’s COVID dashboard.
The T-Mobile stage kicked off its run at 1 p.m. with sister duo Aly & AJ performing tracks off their new album, “a touch of the beat gets you up on your feet gets you out and then into the sun.”
“Music’s back baby,” Aly Michalka yelled out to the crowd.
In monochromatic jumpsuits — one yellow and one white — Aly & AJ entered the stage with brazen confidence, kicking off with “Pretty Places,” the opening track of the album. Their set list ran through eight of the 12 album tracks, as well as “Take Me” from 2017 EP “7 Years.”
“We’re Aly & AJ,” Michalka said to the crowd. “If you don’t know who we are, that’s okay. We’ll educate you.”
The 45-minute set attracted a comfortable amount of attendees, many soaking up the summer atmosphere of the pop tracks. Fans swayed along to slower tracks “Slow Dancing” and “Lucky to Get Him” as others clapped on beat to “Break Yourself.”
The duo ended their set with their 2007 hit “Potential Breakup Song,” invigorating the crowd to sing along to the iconic track which recently found a popularity resurgence on TikTok.
Even Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot made an appearance at the fest just before Black Pumas’ set to thank Chicagoans for “masking up and vaxxing up” and celebrate Lollapalooza 2021 as the largest music festival in the world since before the pandemic.
The Black Pumas followed Lightfoot by doing what they do best — crowd-capturing blues rock.
Their set seemed to unite every person in the crowd no matter their age, electrifying the air with stunning guitar solos and an almost unmatched stage presence.
Rising pop star Kim Petras took the Lake Shore stage at 7:45 p.m. to perform her unabashed electropop tracks.
Petras kicked off her set with the live debut of “The Future Starts Now,” the yet-to-be-released, presumed lead-single off her upcoming album. With four dancers in matching football shirts giving it their all, Petras owned her pop star role on stage.
The 17-song setlist included a medley cover of Charli XCX’s tracks “Unlock It” and “Click,” as well as covers of “Jenny” by the Studio Killers and “SugarCrash!” by ElyOtto.
And she strayed from her standard albums to offer attendees some tracks from her Halloween EP series “Turn off the Light.” The dopamine-inducing set had fans with their arms in the air the entire time.
While Thursday had some heavy hitters, none brought it like Miley Cyrus. With a set full of covers and features from other artists, her 26-song, headlining set stole the show.
Cyrus opened with a classic, “We Can’t Stop,” before going into her first cover — “Where is My Mind” by the Pixies.
“I am who I am, in this bedazzled Gucci jumpsuit, because of all of you,” Cyrus said, addressing her fans.
She would go on to cover Blondie, Mark Robson, Cher, Temple of the Dog and Sinéad O’Connor, and that doesn’t count the covers she did with other artists.
‘80s star Billy Idol joined Cyrus for their duet “Night Crawling” off her latest album before going into Idol’s song “White Wedding.” A few songs later, Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J joined her on stage to cover Mike WiLL Made-It’s “23.” Her set’s final feature was The Kid LAROI where the two performed their hit duo “WITHOUT YOU.”
Cyrus performed the high-energy “SMS (Bangerz)” without featured artist Britney Spears in tow. For Spears’ verse, a “Free Britney” banner was displayed on the screen as fans roared in support of the artist. Cyrus, a long-time advocate of Spears, went on to shout “Free Britney” during “Party in the USA.”
Cyrus, in addition to her many covers, filled the set with fan-favorites from every era of her career, including the lesser-known “Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz.”
“7 Things” made its way into Cyrus’ set list for the first time since 2011 along with “SMS,” which she hasn’t performed live since 2014. Other fan favorites included “See You Again,” “The Climb,” “Wrecking Ball” — accompanied by cartoon skeletons having sex in multiple different positions on the digital screen — “Can’t Be Tamed” and “Party In the U.S.A.”