The final day of Lollapalooza 2023 theoretically had better weather than day three, but the aftermath of the mud made it feel like another rainy day even if only mist appeared from time-to-time. Chicago was lucky because forty-eight hours earlier it showed thunderstorms all day. As people ventured to the different food, merchandise and music destinations, Lollapalooza came to a big sweeping finale with personal and passionate performances on the smaller stages and hip-shaking grooves at the larger stages, there was something for everyone at the final day.
Ingrid Andress 1:00
Originally from Colorado, Ingrid Andress was mentored by her former teacher (and American Idol judge) Kara DioGuardi before moving to Nashville where she became a songwriter. She wrote songs for Alicia Keys and Charli XCX before recording her debut album Lady Like in 2020. Taking to the T-Mobile stage Sunday morning amidst a significant amount of mud, she delivered a tender and revealing set full of heart. "More Hearts Than Mine", "Wishful Drinking" and "Feel Like This" were cathartic moments suited for a Sunday morning.
The Happy Fits 1:45
The indie rock band wasted no time grabbing the audience's attention on "Around and Around". Lead vocalist Calvin Langman does more than sing, he simultaneously plays cello while guitarist Ross Monteith and drummer Luke Davis deliver a larger-than-life sound. "Moving", "She Wants Me (To Be Loved) and "Mary" were delivered with oomph and melody. Watching Langman play the cello with fervent enthusiasm is something you don't expect at a modern music festival.
The Red Clay Strays 2:20
If there was one piece of advice I could give anyone attending Lollapalooza for the first time, it would be to hang at the BMI stage as much as possible. You will witness some of the best and brightest talents emerging from music from a wide variety of genres. It felt coincidental that the Red Clay Strays played early on Sunday as their brand of fire-and-brimstone rock is deep fried in country and gospel for a classic Muscle Shoals vibe. Lead vocalist and guitarist Brandon Coleman, guitarists Drew Nix and Zach Rishel, bassist Andrew Bishop and drummer John Hall brought their pedal steel blues and soul to BMI and despite the clouds, their music reached for the sky trying to part them away. This was a fiery performance that left no prisoners. "Wondering Why", "Doin' Time" and "Good Godly Woman" showcased a band steeped in the deep traditions of late sixties southern rock. It's probably a scheduling coincidence but there was a general positive spirituality to the set with the music rooted in the gospel faith & that echoed the goddess Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The Red Clay Strays will be going on a fall tour, with another Chicago stop at Joe's in October, and the Lollapalooza performance was a sign of big things to come.
Q Brothers 3:00
Which act has played Lollapalooza the most? The Q Brothers. One of the highlights of the Lollapalooza every year, not just Kidzapalooza, is the Q Brothers. Both, GQ and JQ, hail from Chicago and are creative forces to reckoned with. JQ even had a hand in scoring the most current season of Hulu's The Bear. Their family friendly hip-hop features intrinsic rhymes for all and 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 makes it an outlier every year at the festival. The free style section of the performance allows them to stretch their legs and engage with the audience. Watching the Q Brothers washes away your cynicism because it is a top-to-bottom experience that will not just invigorate you but leave a lasting smile on your family's face.
Holly Humberstone 4:00
Holly Humberstone hails from Grantham, England and for the last few years has been inescapable on pop and alternative radio with her hit "The Walls Are Way Too Thin". She's played Glastonbury, collaborated with Sam Fender, and released over a dozen digital singles and has a new album, Paint My Bedroom Black, coming out in October. The strapping guitar-synth set felt like mini greatest hits set as Humberstone has crafted several melodic gems already. Hitting the stage with a guitar in hand, she opened the set with "The Wall Are Too Thin" which was a major flex, opening her set with her biggest hit. Few acts would have the confidence to do this, but she did and for the next forty-five minutes she didn't relent and brought her excellent set to a close with "Scarlett" which found everyone at the Bacardi stage throwing their arms to the air, especially during the lyric "Now I'm drunk and just screaming your name."
Josh Fudge 4:50
Josh Fudge was charming and charismatic at the BMI stage and even offered chocolate chip cookies to those in the front as he joked about his last name and felt obligated to feed them. His set evoked a chill mood as synths echoed off the stage performing songs from his albums Fun Times and 2022's TECHNICOLOR including "FEEL LIKE" which was warmly received by the crowd.
Sarah Kinsley 5:10
Sarah Kinsley had the honor of being the first act on stage on Sunday at the Coinbase stage and she made a return appearance at the smaller Toyota Music Den in the early evening. The singer, who channels alternative, pop, and classical, is an immense talent as she is a multi-instrumentalist. She was poised & engaging channeling several genres during her brief set that felt more ethereal, especially "The King" which has traces of dream pop and Kate Bush all over it.
Lil Yachty 5:30
Born in Georgia, attended University in Alabama, moved to New York City to start his career and on Sunday Lil Yachty made it to the large Bud Light stage for Lollapalooza in Chicago. Performing "Split", "Poland" and "One Night" to end his set, Yachty could be seen smiling as he watched the immense crowd not just take it in, but dance along in a celebratory manner during his early evening set.
Rina Sawayama 6:45
Everything about Rina Sawayama's hour long set was perfection from the stage wear, the dancing, the song choices, and the energy her and her band brought to the show. It was a star making performance that signaled to bigger things for the Japanese-British singer. She was born in Japan but raised in Britian and boxing her into a single genre is difficult. While she freely plays on with the pop landscape her music defies that broad categorization as her set contained dance bears, stadium rock guitars, electropop, dance-pop and more. The entire sixty-minute set was explosive to watch with Sawayama elevating each performance and making the audience's hearts race. People are going to be quick to make comparisons with Lady Gaga, but Sawayama is her own entity and one that defies comparison. There were costume changes, backing dancers, performances-within-performances and music that matched the intensity. I fully expect to see Rina Sawayama headlining festivals around the world within the next few years, she was one of the best and most entertaining performers at Lollapalooza 2023.
Lana Del Rey 8:30
Lana Del Rey's ghostly music is not what one would expect that would be popular enough to fill a festival field, let alone with competition like Louis the Child and the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the same time, but she has meticulously crafted a mystique around not just her, but her albums have become touchstones for a generation of fans who dissect every lyric and image she shares with us. Closing out Lollapalooza, her look was reminiscent of Priscilla Presley's white dresses from her marriage with Elvis and for her eighty-five minute set, she opened with "A&W" from 2023's Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd and closed with "Hope Is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me to Have - But I Have It" from 2019's Norman F**king Rockwell! and in between delivered a set that made her fans delirious. Her delicate vocals were supplemented by a substantial backing band, several dancers, and a few set pieces such as a swing she swung from during the set. Despite the trance-like vibe of most of the set, the fans sung along to every lyric like their lives depended on it. Del Rey never lifts the imaginary veil she wears for performances, but it makes her much more of an enigma to her fans, more supernatural and mysterious than a pop star in the twenty-first century should be allowed to be, and yet she has carefully crafted her image and her fans are entranced by not just her music, but who she is as well, which is why her closing out Lollapalooza was appropriate. When she disappeared into the darkness of the stage and the lights emerged, we were no longer in the world of escapism, but back in a stark and unforgiving world, until next year.
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 and has covered Lollapalooza in-depth for over a decade. He can be contacted at tonykAT antiMUSIC DOT com and can be followed on Twitter
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