Lollapalooza 2018 Day Three Report
Saturday August 4th, 2018 - Grant Park, Chicago: Lollapalooza's third day, Saturday August 4th, had the greatest competition for the headline slot with Vampire Weekend, The Weekend and Zedd but before we reached nightfall, we had a whole day to get through that had its fair share of astounding sets and navigational issues within the fest. Navigation to and from the festival was easier on Saturday as the daily commuters didn't have to make their commute and the weekend was in full bloom, but it was also the hottest day of the festival breaking the heat index of the previous day by more than double digits. The good news is the acts sizzled just as much as the sun on the penultimate day of the festival.
A Swedish DJ and production trio, consisting of Christopher Lunde, John Dahlbńck and Niklas Lunde, BROHUG brought hiccupping beats in syncopation with strobes, a half full field and sirens wailing. It's Saturday morning at Perry's and the fans have entered full on party mode.
Charlotte Cardin 12:50
Hailing from Canada, Cardin took to the Grant Park stage where Bruno Mars performed the night before, and her jazzy electro pop reverberated with the passionate crowd who fought the blistering heat for a subdued but standout set. Without a full length album, she performed songs from her singles and EP's including "Main Girl" and "California". Standing behind a keyboard, she provided the perfect Saturday morning soundtrack for hangovers, as the audience stood in rapt attention taking in every note wrung from the stage.
Sir Sly 1:30
The Los Angeles indie rock band Sir Sly made waves with a brash set as the peak heat was hitting the festival. Vocalist Landon Jacobs along with instrumentalists Jason Suwito and Hayden Coplen had an attentive crowd as they performed songs from their 2017 album Don't You Worry, Honey where they tackled themes of regret and escape. Jacobs, who went shirtless early in the show, submerged himself in the audience and left the fans with a memorable set.
Bomba EstÚreo 2:30
Bomba EstÚreo is a band led by vocalist Liliana Saumet and Simon Mejia and their sweltering mid-afternoon performance was one for the ages. They hit all the right notes and had the ardent crowd jumping, singing and swaying together under the baking sun. Lollapalooza has evolved as a festival and while there is more electronic music than ever, watching a band like Bomba makes your heart race as you watch the band perform their instruments with sheer glee making you forgot about every issue you may have at that moment in time. Saumet was in a bright yellow dress and a headband made out of flowers as she lead the band and crowd and whenever she commanded the crowd to "jump, jump, jump", they followed orders, kicked up dust and relinquished control of their bodies. The band tapped into reggae, rock guitars, psychedelic pop melodies and bustling world music rhythm that was nothing short of a miracle.
Daya was born as Grace Martine Tandon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and took to the stage in a unique hoodie with no back. Daya had no issues taking control of her very short set. One odd development at Lollapalooza 2018 was the condensed sets by many acts, if scheduled an hour, they were often performing thirty or forty five minute sets. Daya made the most of her time and really gripped the crowd with an a-capella rendition of "Hide Away" before her band kicked in to provide the song color. Her collaboration with the Chainsmokers "Don't Let Me Down" and "Sit Still, Look Pretty" were well received, but one couldn't help a more lasting impression would have been made with a longer set.
The Toyota Music Den is an offshoot tent that has music performances every day and under the tent, fans are able to experience intimacy, have their musical heroes sweat on them and if they are lucky, witness a performance that is engaging and transforms the festival to a mini club, which is just what YUNGBLUD did. YUNGBLUD, born as Dominic Harrison, is an English alternative rock musician from Doncaster and whose song "I Love You, Will You Marry Me" was compelling. For all the grief Lollapalooza receives for lacking intimacy, not enough is spoken about for attractions like the one Toyota trots out. Yes, it is there to advertise and collect information, but it's nice trade off to see an up and coming artist mere feet in front of you where you can see the veins pop out of their neck and I took something away from YUNGBLUD's set I would not have on a larger-than-life stage.
Lil Pump 4:20
The rapper Lil Pump will celebrate his eighteenth birthday two weeks after Lollapalooza and once again, Tito's Handmade Vodka stage reared its ugly head. Two days earlier, Billie Eilish couldn't be heard as the crowd overwhelmed the space and by the time Lil Pump showed up to perform, later than the published time, the crowd was a little out of hand. Lil Pump was never able to sustain any kind of momentum due to the crush at the front of the stage which he personally got involved with and even jumped off the stage to take a fan out of the crush, which sadly only made it worse as the cameras came out in full force.
LL Cool J 4:45
Directly after the Lil Pump debacle, LL Cool J made his presence known. To younger fans he's an actor and the host of the Grammy Awards, but to the older fans, he's one of the crucial voices and grandfathers of the rap / hip-hop movement. Lollapalooza 2018 wouldn't exist without LL Cool J, Run DMC, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and N.W.A. Respect and critical acclaim came to him years later, but even though he's one of the most central figures in hip-hop history, while also being one of the most successful, he still doesn't take much for granted. Once he took the stage in a #43 jersey (deftly promoting his new Sirius XM "Rock The Bells Radio-Classic Hip-Hop with LL Cool J" on channel 43), he saw the crowd and festival as a challenge he was going to conquer. With arms most people can't bench press, a gold chain and baseball hat he wasted no time having the two turntables churn out "Mama Said Knock You Out" which jolted the audience to life, LL never looked back. For an hour, he essentially performed an extended medley of thirty-two songs including "I'm Bad", "4,3,2,1", "Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag Getting Crushed by Buildings", "Jack the Ripper", "I Need Love", the crowd sing-a-long "Going Back to Cali" and "1‒900 L.L. Cool J", all of which entranced the rapturous crowd. LL Cool J has a command of the stage that many of the younger artists are still developing. As he closed his set with "Rock the Bells", he left with performing more than three decades of confidence and the eye of a tiger; he doesn't need to prove anything to anyone but he still does.
Luke Combs 5:55
Hailing from Asheville, North Carolina, Combs delivered a restrained and refreshing set of old school country music. He has an edge and a profound appreciation for what has come before, showcased beautifully in a dusty rendition of the Eagles "Take It Easy" and his heart rendering set closer "Hurricane".
St. Vincent 6:45
St. Vincent may have given the performance of the weekend. I'll be unpacking her sixty-minute set for the rest of my life. Dressed in a slinky and shiny red dress, heels and with a battery of Ernie Ball guitars, St Vincent, aka Annie Clark, left a piece of her soul on the Lollapalooza stage and made us contemplate our own in the process. Touring in support of her 2017 release Masseduction, she tapped into our inner desires that are only whispered in the dark of night. The title track was the third song and with "I can't turn off what turns me on" portion of the chorus, it hints at the underlying theme of the record of embracing your inner self, to reject shame and to get to a place of well-being.
St. Vincent owes a lot to the Talking Heads, Kate Bush, Davie Bowie and Nine Inch Nails, but she's a entirely original artist. For the last decade she has kept her audience guessing. Leading her band through a sensory set, she showcased her Ernie Ball guitar continually, the same model, just in different colors and over the course of forty-hours this past weekend, no one did more with those six-strings than her. She made the guitar feel novel again in a revolutionary way. Every time she strummed a chord, she took the audience into a futuristic noir fantasy where our unspoken truths blare through a amplifier. Her outfit of high heels, latex, and smeared lipstick threw our unspoken desires to the forefront for us to wrestle with. Her music and art are intertwined with one another complimenting the other while adding a layer of mystery upon it all just like the David Bowie's best work. During the closing trifecta of "Fear the Future", "Slow Disco" and "New York", she sang about sleepless nights, heartbreak, the longing for a simpler time, decaying friendships, fragile relationships, carnal tension, interior power struggles and rejection of societal norms. "New York" is a love letter to everyone who has been a part of her life, who has left her, who have haunted her and who have helped form her and inspire her. As she sung it with a melancholy heart, "New York" became our hope and tragedy wrapped up in 150-seconds. I remember exchanging messages just as Clark did when David Bowie and Prince died in 2016 and as she sung "I have lost a hero, I have lost a friend", I too thought about their music and the friends who I discovered and shared that music with. These people made me, helped form me and make me a better person and how without them in my orbit, there's always love but an eternal gap. As the final piano chord hit, she raised her hand, thanked the audience and was gone with our hearts forever engraved on the stage.
Dua Lipa 8:00
As one approached the Lake Shore stage, you could only see a sea of people, not just taking their places on the far end of the field for The Weekend, but a deeply entrenched group of fans hanging on every word on Dua Lipa, the twenty-two year old English singer whose blunt songs of relationships have made her a champion of women everywhere. Watching the three song finale of her set of "Begging", "IDGAF" and "New Rules" found a performer who has done more than craft a few catchy melodies, but who has drafted an army of apostles who want to be loved, respected and if not, they're going to create new rules (excuse the pun). It was a powerful moment to see women so united and sharing in a deep love and connection with an artist who is helping them navigate treacherous waters and providing them with more than a lifeboat, but the oars to steer their own course.
Zedd is more than a DJ or record producer, but a bonafide pop star with hits with "Stay", "The Middle" and "Clarity", which will appear on summer playlists for an entire generations of fans for decades to come. Perry's EDM stage is quite the sight to see, but at its worse, it features significant repetition throughout the weekend, whereas the headliners find a more obtuse or melodic way to drive their songs home. Zedd's set opened with big bustling grooves and hyperactive drum machines that reach a crescendo before the synths take over. Perry's stage overflowed to the street as Zedd showed off his own work and covers amongst flames and lasers in full effect post-sundown.
The Weekend 8:40
The Weekend (aka Canadian singer/songwriter Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) last played Lollapalooza in 2015 against Paul McCartney, and this year he's graduated to the festival's largest stage and if not for Bruno Mars the night before, would have taken the crown for largest crowd of 2018. The set dove into dark pop waters immediately with "Pray For Me", "Starboy" and Party Monster to start and for the next 75-minutes his crowd never wavered and gave themselves over to one of the biggest pop stars on the planet.
Vampire Weekend 9:15
On the opposite field of The Weekend was Vampire Weekend, Lollapalooza veterans performing their first headline set and also first festival show in four years. Their set was a reprieve from a weekend of big beats headliners and they even announced that their new album is done but still waiting to be mastered. Vampire Weekend is one of the most delightful acts recording today and their music is made to elicit smiles. On "Oxford Comma" the bass and rhythm pepper the song with a breezy summer night feel, taking you away. Their music is unconditionally enchanting and as showcased on the evening's closer, "Walcott", they shimmered with music hall keys and Ezra Koenig's penetrating guitar and sugary vocals. As the band reached their finale, I saw four friends on the field grab each other's hands and form a circle, as they danced under the moonlight hand-in-hand as Vampire Weekend provides the soundtrack to a moment they'll take with them throughout their life, in the hopes they can find happiness as perfect as this one.
More in-depth Lollapalooza coverage will be published all this week
Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer and Special Features Editor for the antiMUSIC Network. His daily writings can be read at The Screen Door. He has seen over 1,000 concerts in his life, has far too many CD's and has covered Lollapalooza in-depth for seven years. He can be contacted at tonykAT antiMUSIC DOT com and can be followed on Twitter
Lollapalooza 2018 Day Three Report
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