Chicago’s Lollapalooza returned to Grant Park this past weekend hosting acts across genres and of varying popularity. Continuing with the four-day schedule from 2016, this year’s lineup was killer. Although the vast layout of the grounds paired with overlapping sets frustrated some goers, the size allowed for a schedule packed full of talented musicians throughout each day.
Day one started off with an enthusiastic garage punk set from Louisville-based White Reaper. Lead singer Tony Esposito provoked the crowd multiple times in an attempt to get them to wake up (with little success). By the end of the set, however, the punchy guitar in songs like “Judy French” and “Eagle Beach” jolted the crowd into consciousness.
The day’s other highlights included a genuine set from indie pop band The Drums, and the festival’s best performance by far from Cage the Elephant towards the end of the day. The rest of the weekend was almost a letdown after witnessing the pure power of brothers Matt and Brad Shultz on stage. With constant ventures into the crowd and a very small glitter dress, they enthralled from start to finish.
Day two saw the festival’s high energy continue with the ever-eclectic The Lemon Twigs. Brian and Michael D’Addario gave everything they had on the stage, adding in multiple high kicks, jumping splits, guitar riffs and effortful lyrical delivery. The played many fun covers, too, including John Prine’s “Fish And Whistle,” as well as songs off of their 2016 release, Do Hollywood, and upcoming EP, Brothers of Destruction.
Later in the night, Chicago’s Whitney gave a wonderful indie rock performance over at the Pepsi Stage with a special appearance from rapper Joey Purp, whose freestyle work over the instrumental “Red Moon” was one of the festival’s must-see moments.
Blossoms opened day three at the other end of the festival grounds with songs from their self-titled debut. Although they weren’t much for crazy stage gimmicks, the band’s British indie pop was a delight for the sun-weary crowd.
Another star of the festival was Ron Gallo, who I caught at the BMI Stage after Blossoms. His excellent backing musicians fed off of the crowd and adapted their energy accordingly, accentuating Gallo’s stellar garage rock performance. “Young Lady, You’re Scaring Me,” off of this year’s HEAVY META, was a favorite, and Ron added his own screaming twist to end the set.
The final highlight of day three was the set from Glass Animals. Lead singer Dave Bayley joked about all of the pineapples confiscated at security, making up for the confiscation by centering a massive, glittering pineapple on stage. This stage set-up paired with their weird and almost constant psychedelic sound effects was a welcome change to the typical indie rock sounds I’d heard all day. They mixed hits off of their new album, How to Be a Human Being, with old favorites from Zaba, making for a wonderful set to round out day three.
By day four, most of the four-day wristband-holders were exhausted. The first set I caught was Blaenavon at the Lake Stage. Although not many people knew who they were, the band’s mix between subdued and energetic indie rock kept the crowd on their toes. Songs like “Let’s Pray” are just easy to nod to, and I think that’s what most of us needed after three full days of music.
Later, singer-songwriter Barns Courtney flipped this energy completely. After breaking his foot at Summerfest, many thought (and recommended) that he give up his spot at Lollapalooza. Instead, he performed an anyway and brought out a “nurse” to wheel him around in a hospital bed. This comical exaggeration of the injury only added to his fiery performance, and by the end of his set he had more mobility than most festival-goers.
The festival’s final highpoint was Maggie Rogers‘ performance on the main stage. Her genuine joy and appreciation for her fans was evident. She emphasized the importance of perseverance and respect, crediting her success to her education and her supporters. Long-time fans were treated to unreleased songs including “Resonant Body” as well as hits “Dog Years” and “Alaska” off of Now that the Light is Fading. It was a perfectly humble end to the craziness of Lollapalooza.