Lollapalooza 2019 Day Four Report
Sunday August 4th, 2019 - Grant Park, Chicago
Lollapalooza's fourth and final day brought the 40-hour festival to a close, but before the final notes buzzed throughout Grant Park, there was a lot of music to be played. Since relocating to Chicago as a standalone festival, while the music has always been at the forefront, the festival has done a bang-up job in attracting food vendors, sponsors and special exhibits within the festival. Just this year, they introduced a new VIP area at the BMI stage along with GA+, a wristband that allows you to access certain areas for private bathrooms, free water and discounted drinks. The festival organizers are well aware that ten straight hours of music isn't for everyone so they work to ensure there is something for everyone throughout the festival to make it more enjoyable when you're taking a brief respite from the music.
The good news for Lollapalooza in 2019 is it had the best four days of weather it's ever had and more acts performed at the festival than ever before, which may have been a bit too much for most. The final day of 2019 had its fair share of highs and lows much like day one, once again confirming that the festival may be better suited for the three-day format where the line-ups are more stacked with less filler. Here's our day four report from Lollapalooza 2019.
The four-piece indie rock band Wilderado took to the stage all dressed in white. The Los Angeles band consists of lead singer/guitarist Max Rainer, bassist/vocalist Colton Dearing, guitarist/vocalist Tyler Wimpee, and drummer Justin Kila by way of Oklahoma and Texas. Their harmonies were deep, languid and brought some spirituality to the festival on the sunny Sunday morning.
(Sandy) Alex G 1:30
The Philadelphia singer-songwriter evokes the spirit on Elliott Smith with chill guitars chords that shimmered in an assured performance. One recurring theme throughout the weekend was how much the quieter performances stood out from the musical madness of a summer festival and Alex G was able to shine.
Never underestimate the kids stage (Kidzapalooza) at the festival. It's full of activities, workshops, painting and $3 snow cones that surpass all the others. The Q Brothers have the distinction of being the only performers to have played Lollapalooza every year since it relaunched in 2005 and are always a highlight of the festival, not just Kidzapalooza. Brothers GQ and JQ hail from Chicago and are creative forces to be reckoned with. Their family friendly hip-hop event deserves more credit than it gets as they slice and dice intrinsic rhymes, the brothers collaborate with friends and kids who have visited their hip-hop workshop. The collaborative nature of the performance makes it an unforgettable experience where the Q Brothers stand toe-to-toe with the majority of hip-hop performers at Lollapalooza. The free style section of the performance allows them to stretch their legs. Watching the Q Brothers washes away your cynicism with a top-to-bottom experience that will not just invigorate you but leave a lasting smile on your face as they sang the environmental awareness song "Talking Trash" and Sushi" which had everyone within earshot smiling ear-to-ear. The Q Brothers have a free family hip-hop album suitable for children on their website (http://qbrothersofficial.com/). Their next performances will be part of the Austin City Limits Music Festival from October 4th to the 13th.
The hip-hop artist who calls California home combined unrestrained beats that he paired with melancholy performing songs from his latest EP IDK WHERE.
Still Woozy 2:45
The twenty-five year old Sven Gamsky (aka Still Woozy) began creating music from his garage in Oakland, California when one of his songs was added to a Spotify playlist that jump started his career. His top-five songs on Spotify now have nearly 120-million streams and Woozy took to the Lollapalooza stage is creating folk / hip-hop hybrid that generated groundswells of enthusiasm on the hot concrete in front of Tito's Handmade stage.
Illiterate Light 3:05
The rock duo hails from Harrisonburg, Virginia both attended alternative schools and even ran an organic farm in the Shenandoah Valley before tackling music in 2015. Their BMI stage performance was a refreshing injection of six-string garage rock with storming harmonies on a day where it seemed to be in shortage across the festival.
Just Loud 3:15
Just Loud was busy giving multiple performances throughout Lollapalooza focusing on music that appears to have beautifully formed into an accidental collision of genres. The retro soul package with shades of new wave, disco and funk was intoxicating to take in. Debbie Harry of Blondie was so impressed that she lent her vocals to his song "Soul Train". His falsetto showcased impossible dimensions while the music jumped out of his skin and to the crowd. At two performances on Sunday, he used his falsetto to good use, first on a cover of Radiohead's "Creep" and at a smaller stage on Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell". The music that emanated from the stage surged like a synth orchestra with leaping tempos bolstered with a voice that was out of a dream.
Dean Lewis 3:30
Lewis sat with an acoustic guitar on the enormous Bud Light stage and brought a sense of immediacy to the vast crowd. His gentle strumming on paper may appear to be better suited for bedroom confessionals, but Lewis managed to seduce the crowd with directness that was spellbinding. The crowd sang along to "Be Alright" (it has 574-million streams on Spotify), cheered the shuffling rhythm of "7 Minutes" and were caught off guard by a splendid and rocking performance of the Killers "When We Were Young". Lewis made it known that he belongs on the big stage and is destined for great things.
Francis and the Lights 4:00
Francis Farewell Starlite is the man behind the prog-pop-rock that is Francis and the Lights. He's worked with Chance the Rapper, Kanye West and Bon Iver, but his synth heavy music is reminiscent of early solo Peter Gabriel recordings with an ethereal voice that has the ability to send shivers down your spine. "Friends" and "Just For Us" combined tumultuous beats with melodies rooted in triumph. He was strident during his set working the crowd like a veteran. Francis has a distinctive musical vernacular that perfectly blends the past with a resolute eye on the future.
The Revivalists 4:30
At the south end of Grant Park, the biggest stage (sponsored by T-Mobile this year), usually has the performer's name overtake the huge screen at the back so that fans coming to the field from a few hundred yards away can see who is performing. The New Orleans eight-piece that is the Revivalists opted for something other than their name; a banner that said "End Gun Violence" which stayed up for the entirety of their late afternoon performance. With the news of the shootings in Dayton and El Paso looming over the festival, the band wasted no time in getting down to business. Their set provided the festival with a much needed jolt of joy amidst a world spiraling out of control. With a few of the members in Chicago Bulls jerseys, they congealed as a unit in the most magnificent manner. "Catching Fireflies" was epic with organ player Michael Girardot riling the crowd up so much he almost knocked over his organ/keyboard set up. As the band played off each other, they morphed into a wonderfully wailing crescendo of passion. Before "Shoot You Down" lead singer David Shaw encouraged the crowd to be politically active, especially the younger fans who he said would be in a place of power one day and before he disappeared into the song, he told the crowd "Fight the good fight with love". The ache they brought to their art are why the Revivalists were performing on Lollapalooza's biggest stage, it was because they earned it and deserved to be there.
Sharon Van Etten 5:30
A concentrated and smoldering set highlighted by songs from her Remind Me Tomorrow album. As she sang "Comeback Kid", she led the band down the highway of her life in a vociferous and confident fashion. Returning with her first album in five years, Van Etten had something to prove and she did with a set that was affecting but never dove too deep into sentimental waters. The set closer "Seventeen" found her looking back to her past from her journey as a teen to where she is today, as a lifer in the world of music and a mother. It has less to do with yearning for the past than singing to her younger self congratulating her on how far she will go and everything she will accomplish. From seventeen to Lollapalooza, that is a hell of a dream that came true.
Kasey Musgraves 6:30
Basking in the golden hour (pun intended) of the final day of the festival, the winner for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards this past February performed a perfect sixty-minute set that should have possibly been a headline slot. However, the opening of the set of "Slow Burn", "Wonder Woman" and "Butterflies" were breathtaking. The sets most riveting moment occurred before her impassioned performance of "Rainbow" where the aftermath of the double shootings in Dayton and El Paso were on her mind; "I can't even believe that we're having to process the sh*t that's happening in the last 24 hours, much less everything that's happened in the last 200-f**king-15 days in America. So I don't know what the answer is, but obviously something has to be f***ing done. Maybe somebody will hear us if we all yell together and say, 'Somebody f**king do something!'"
Mitski did more than strap on her bass guitar and perform; while her band played, she centered herself around a white table and chair where her music was one sliver of a larger art performance. She leaned stomach on the white table as she performed "Dan the Dancer", "Washing Machine Heart", "I Will" and "I Don't Smoke" to the crowd who hung on every word. The set wasn't for everyone, but it was also a display for one of the richest spells of creativity over Lollapalooza's four days.
Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators 8:15
The waiting line for photographers was the largest I saw all weekend in the time leading up to Slash's set and the audience was clearly ready to get in the ring with the six-string God and his supporting band Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. The set leaned heavily on their work with only one Guns N' Roses song, but the crowd who turned out for them was fervently devoted to the top-hat wearing guitar God. Despite a lack of hits, arena rock obsessions were on full display, flying hair, over-the-top guitar solos and smoldering moves by Kennedy. Slash didn't say much, but he let his guitar do the talking and his fret work on "Anastasia" and "World on Fire" were fierce and forceful reminding the crowd that sometimes you don't always need hits at a festival to make an impression when virtuosity and conviction for your craft will take you just as far.
Ariana Grande 8:30
The only artist to be given a full ninety-minute set was Ariana Grande, who used the first five-minutes for an intro tape before appearing in a misty shade of red making her difficult to see up close or on the screen. Throughout her set, the misty red lighting shifted to pink, blue and purple which never illuminated her, the outfits, the dancers or any of the stage setup. It was as if you were watching a blurry YouTube video. This was problematic for many in the audience who wound up leaving for Flume on the other side of the festival. Because of the size of the stage and the problematic lighting, it was difficult to determine if Grande was performing or if what we were hearing was transition music. The performance was professional, meticulously choreographed and was a set of soulless virtuosity.
Ariana Grande deserves her headline status it with a multitude of hits that are undeniable; "God is a Woman", "7 Ring", "Breathin", "No Tears Left to Cry" and "Thank U, Next" but there's something distant about the orchestration and delivery of these songs. She headlined two nights at the United Center in early June and it was almost a near replica of that show with the same pacing and lighting issues that plagued this performance. Grande arrived at one of the most preeminent festivals in the world and many were hoping for her to make her mark the same way Beyoncé did with her Coachella performance last year that is documented beautifully in the Netflix documentary Homecoming. The only thing that made the performance notable was the live debut of her latest single "Boyfriend" for which Social House joined her onstage. In a weekend with the likes of Janelle Monae, Against the Current, Kacey Musgraves, Mitski, Sharon Van Etten, the New Respects, Sigrid, Bea Miller and Jade Bird leading the way with impassioned performances, one can't help but feel that Ariana Grande's closing set was more of a paycheck performance than one rooted in passion.
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 2019 Day Four Report
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