Day three at Lollapalooza continued the momentum from Friday's highs. The weather once again cooperated and over the course of ten hours, some history was made at the festival. Lil Wayne performed a set that by most accounts outdrew many of the headliners and on Saturday night Colombian singer J Balvin became the first Latino artist to headline Lollapalooza. These were merely two of dozens of performances. Here's our day three report from Lollapalooza 2019.
Dexter Tortoriello is the man behind Houses, an indie synth pop band whose durable performance early on Saturday with succulent beats, subdued synths proved to be a perfect Saturday morning soundtrack.
The Band Camino 1:00
The Memphis, Tennessee four-piece was sprightly as they jaunty rhythm based synths, which pay homage to the Killers and the 1975, echoed throughout the far end of Grant Park.
Five teenagers from Los Angeles who hit the BMI stage with a vengeance as their guitars howled and the drums galloped into a horizon of distortion. Performing songs from their recent EP I Can Fool Anybody in This Town the band didn't shy away from cranking up their amplifiers to 11.
Sam Fender 1:30
The most revealing performer of the day was Sam Fender, a twenty-five year-old English singer-songwriter who, despite performing on the second biggest stage early in the day, connected with everyone who watched his set. Fender has a series of singles and EP's and a full length album Hypersonic Missiles which will be released on September 13th, but his live performance at Lollapalooza was a game changer. Without falling into hyperbole, I've only seen about a dozen performances in my life where I knew I would follow the artist until the end of time and Sam Fender falls into this category. His band delivered a ferocious set fueled by his tales of dead end sea towns.
Raised in North Shields in the northeast of England, Fender writes about those struggles he witnessed growing up, including toxic masculinity, suicide and self-interest. After an intense full band performance of the Oasis song "Morning Glory", the band left the vast stage leaving just Fender and his electric guitar to perform a spare ballad called "White Privilege". In less than four-minutes Fender threw the state of the world into a time capsule capturing the horrors and complexities of living in 2019, the confusion it brings and dread it instills within us. With the lyrics of "'Cause I'm a white male, full of shame / My ancestry is evil, and their evil is still not gone" he is tackling the patriarchy of our society and its associated ills head-on. He doesn't sugar coat it as he repeats "Their evil is still not gone" seven times. Sam Fender is the artist rock n' roll has been waiting for as he synthesizes the terrors of the twenty-first century in an unpretentious manner. His songs evoke the grey abyss of dead ends, the potential of tomorrow all the while anchored by his earnest vocal delivery. The evil of the world may not be gone and it won't be eradicated any time soon, but I am glad we have Sam Fender along for the ride if for no other reason than to make us all feel a little less alone in this godforsaken world.
Fantastic Negrito 2:00
Hailing from Oakland, Fantastic Negrito's life path didn't make the scheduled destinations he anticipated. He had a million dollar record deal, almost died in a car accident and somehow it all made him stronger as he tells his tales through big bold rock jams deeply entrenched on black roots music. His band either channeled the sound of the gates of heaven opening, or possibly the depths of hell depending on your religious affiliation. There is a deep sense of music knowledge that percolates through his vocals and the guitar in his hands. Just when you think you've heard it all, you're exposed to a man either obsessed or possessed by music and we're all the better for it.
Bea Miller 2:20
A former contestant on the The X Factor, when she only thirteen-years-old, Bea Miller knows a thing or two about show business and it was evident on the Lollapalooza stage. The pop singer performed "Fire and Gold" and her best known song, "I Want To Know", her collaboration with NOTD and it put the crowd into the palm of her hand with the bevy of fans jumping in synch during the chorus.
During his hour long set Mondo Cozmo (aka Joshua Ostrander) told the Lollapalooza crowd as he performed from the biggest stage of the festival that "this is holy ground" referring to the acts who have performed on the stage from the Strokes to Lady Gaga to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to the Kings of Leon to Janelle Monae to Childish Gambino to Paul McCartney to Florence + the Machine and more. He stood there in awe of being able to conjure those spirits, pay tribute to those who came before and rock the foundations. Performing eight of the songs from his 2017 album Plastic Soul Mondo Cozmo brought one another after another to Lollapalooza. From the soul-fueled rave-up of the opener "Come To Me" to the hewing "Higher" to the pure melodic energy of the arm-waving "Hold On To Me". One new song, "Black Cadillac" was a pressure cooker rocker while the Bill Withers flavored "Plastic Soul" which had a healthy snippet of Weezer's "Undone (The Sweater Song)". Everything I love about a live performance Mondo Cozmo embodies o the stage; teasing of songs, holding a note, sneaky covers embedded within his own songs, earnest vocals, roaring riffs and tender ballads that sooth your soul. Certain artists are wired in a way, where they have a profound appreciation for what came before, and they want to tell their own story using those influences as a spiritual fountain of inspiration that they will drink from and make their own. By the time he performed "Shine", his signature song, the far end of Lollapalooza was his for the taking. Nearly two-hundred artists come to Lollapalooza every year to make some noise and be noticed. In recent years, few acts have been able to break bread with the fans in such a fashion where there is a genuine bond between band and fan, and Modno Cozmo is one of those acts. They transcended the gap between the stage and the barriers to make a connection with the fans proving they are one of the most essential up and coming live rock outfits on the road today.
A former contestant of American Idol, Alejandro Aranda took the bold step of performing seven different originals during his time on the singing competition and is now touring in support of those songs. His Lollapalooza set was raucous and rocking than the songs he's released to date. Knowing his acoustically driven songs need something more on the stage, he was able to bring the noise to this late afternoon crowd.
Pink Sweat$ 4:10
Pink Sweat$ spent seven years working behind the scenes as a producer in Philadelphia before he made the leap to the front of the stage. The R&B soul crooner stood out on Saturday under the shaded American Eagle stage where his tender and soft delivery on songs like "Honesty" and "Coke & Henny Pt. 2" was illuminating. His focus is on his vocals and in concert they are every bit as brilliant as they are on the recordings.
Witt Lowry 4:35
Mark Richard Jr. left his graphic design job in 2011 and ventured down the road less traveled. He established himself as rapper Witty Lowry. He's amassed over a half-million followers on his YouTube channel and a small portion of them turned up for his set at the BMI stage where his beats were paired with delicate synths giving the music a more gentle and intense delivery that was intoxicating and gut wrenching under the trees of the stage.
Gary Clark Jr. 4:45
The blues guitarist first appeared in 2012 at Lollapalooza before his debut album had been released. Since then he's become a festival favorite, performing at the biggest and best around the world and leaving audiences in awe at his command of the guitar and the stage. Appearing mere hours after another mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, Clark's set was the most emotionally political of the evening. He grew up in and still calls Texas home. As he performed "This Land", a first person account of his upbringing in a state where he was viewed with suspicion and eyed with anger, he directed his frustration of the state of our country through his guitar, which soared throughout not just the crowd but the festival. The music that flows in his veins poured out to tens of thousands. The lyrics contain "Go back where you come from / We don't want, we don't want you kind" and despite his success, fame and talent Gary Clark Jr. undoubtedly has never felt at home in his home and This Land reflects this brutal truth. Like Childish Gambino and Janelle Monae the day before, Clark is creating dialogue through his art on his bravest and best album to date. As he wound down his blazing hour long set, he slashed through "Come Together" by the Beatles, signaling to the crowd that we must fight and find our way through these tragedies to find a better tomorrow.
Role Model 5:45
Twenty-one year old Role Model (aka Tucker Pillsbury) provided a breezy indie-pop evening for a fanatical group of fans who stood in rapt attention at the day's best stage, BMI, as he put his heart out in his melancholic songs with steady beats that the audience was singing back to him.
Jade Bird 6:05
With her white acoustic cradled around her neck, Jade Bird brought some serious heat to the Toyota Music Den with a fiery performance. Her stinging vocal rasp was on full display as she steered her band through some hefty topics and even when she lightened things up with a cover of the Bangles "Walk Like an Egyptian", the arrangement brought the audience to their knees. The English singer-songwriter is direct in her delivery of these tangible and terse songs that chronicle her twenty-two years on this Earth.
Once again the poor sound system of Tito's rears its ugly head. After 3pm as the crowds get bigger the sound is near impossible to hear unless you are standing close to the stage. This has been a continual problem for years and the lack of screens and poor sound deter many from staying. AJR sounded good from my vantage point and the pop-rock band exhibited a significant amount of charisma and character onstage. Every song was an infectious earworm and their cover of Smash Mouth's "All Star" was met with abounding enthusiasm.
Ruston Kelly 6:50
In a just world, Ruston Kelly would be headlining one of the main stages where tens of thousands hung on his every word. Listening to the gentle delivery of "Cover My Tracks", his music is drenched in country music greatness with stories rich in details, meticulous arrangements and pedal steel guitar that evoked memories of the past. The set's highlight was the dynamic "Hurricane in My Head" which is as good as any song found in the Americana songbook over the last decade. He beautifully projected vulnerable creeds of individuals at a crossroads. Watching Ruston Kelly as a breeze came in from Lake Shore Drive, you couldn't help but be captivated by the pictures he painted no matter how hushed they may have been. This was one of the most solemn performances at the festival that wasn't without its emotional weight which Kelly transported to us through the characters in his songs.
Tenacious D 7:30
Jack Black and Kyle Gass brought some much needed humor and distortion to Lollapalooza. Jack Black is an international movie star, but it hasn't stopped him from continuing to make music. The set fit perfectly within the day. Performing sixteen songs from all corners of their career, they were unrelenting in their desire to rock…and make people laugh. Did they push the envelope musically? No, but they delivered the day's most enjoyable set that was part old school metal show and comedy extravaganza.
Judah & the Lion 8:00
The Nashville group flirts with Americana, folk, rock, bluegrass and pop elements fit perfectly within the hyperactive scope of Lollapalooza. The set had banjo's galore, arena-ready choruses, double fisted drums and confessional lyrics about their struggles that engulfed the animated crowd.
Twenty One Pilots 8:45
The duo previously played the festival on the final day in 2015, stealing the show in the process, so it wasn't a surprise to see them return as Saturday night headliners. The band has become a full-fledged arena act in the last four years and they brought that bombast to their headline set Saturday evening. The set opened with "Jumpsuit" and featured lead singer/guitarist Tyler Joseph performing on top of a flaming car. For seventy-five minutes the duo ran through their eclectic catalog which the audience rapturously received. The duo performed a rendition of House of Pain's "Jump Around" which had the entire field doing just that while "Stressed Out", "Ride" and "Chlorine" provided musical fireworks for the crowd before a series of pyrotechnics over Soldier Field (for a Bears event) and their finale lit up the Chicago sky before bringing day three to an end.
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 2019 Day Three
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