The day after Lollapalooza brings flashbacks of swarming people dodging security guards to jump fences, $10 cans of Bud Light, and far, far too many Juuls lost to the metal detectors.
There is truly nothing quite like Lollapalooza.
This year, 400,000 festival-goers braved the August heat to see headliners like Ariana Grande, J. Balvin, Twenty-One Pilots, The Strokes and Tame Impala.
However, much of the standout acts this year were not in the headliners, rather in the underrated, up-and-coming artists.
On Friday, Tierra Whack turned the American Eagle stage into her own “Whack World,” bringing to life the kooky, cartoonish imagery of her 2018 self-released album. Even though she was wearing a shirt with her own face on it, she praised the crowd for the energy they were showing. Tracks like “Only Child,” “Hungry Hippo” and “Pretty Ugly” were major hits with the audience.
NF brought an energy all his own on Friday, stalking onto the Lake Shore stage pushing an empty shopping cart followed by black balloons and a black joker smile painted on his face, mimicking the cover art of his 2019 album “The Search.” His intense emotional performance peaked on tracks like “Lie” and “Let You Down.”
A flock of people pushed into the T-Mobile stage to watch 21 Savage perform on Friday evening. He started the show off with tracks like “Bank Account,” “10 Freaky Girls” and “Don’t Come Out the House” from his older albums, prompting mosh pits in a constellation across the crowd. As the DJ started the track “Monster,” hearing Childish Gambino’s voice on the opening verse made the crowd chatter with anticipation. Was it really him or was it just the recorded track? The crowd went wild as Gambino arose from behind 21 Savage — wearing a neck rest and arm sling — and rapped his verse.
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When it came time for Gambino to headline, the “Lion King” star arose from an elevating platform in the middle of the crowd to the unreleased “Atavista.” Following the grand entrance, Gambino metaphorically lit his microphone on fire with a second unreleased song “Algorythm.” Gambino was followed by a cinematic sized camera, where he constantly looked back at the hovering lens that fed back to the large screens on stage while parading through the division of the T-Mobile audience.
Gambino’s animated face throughout his lyrics stole the show, but not before returning to the crowd to mingle and vocal belt on drum beat setups. Everyone knows the entertainer can rap for days, but to sing at a high level and never stop moving? Maybe the attire from earlier in the evening was an Easter egg for fans to determine later, as the shirtless and mobile Gambino appeared to have no physical restrictions. The lion of the rap game roared at Lollapalooza.
Smino and Chance The Rapper
On Saturday, there was definitely love in the air at Smino’s show. After kicking off with the fun and soulful track “Anita” two of Smino’s crew members got engaged on stage. As if that wasn’t enough excitement, Smino brought out Chance the Rapper to perform the song “Eternal” from Chance’s new album.
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Later on, Lil Wayne proved his legend status with his performance, amassing a crowd as big (if not bigger) than some headliners, though he was as humble as could be, repeating again and again “I ain’t shit without you” to his fans. He opened with “6 Foot 7 Foot” and to the crowd’s delight, performed several other older tracks like “A Milli”and “How to Love.”
While Wayne transitioned to “Mrs. Officer” the legendary emcee joked with the crowd. “Don’t act like you don’t know this one.” The verbal siren noises that make the chorus were repeated at random times by fans following the Saturday evening show on Sunday afternoon. Waiting for Ariana Grande? You heard it. Standing at the other end of Grant Park before Flume? More verbal sirens a full 24 hours after his set. The power of Dwayne Carter, ladies and gentlemen.
Wayne also performed his song “Don’t Cry” featuring XXXTentacion. And if you haven’t already seen it on Barstool, we even got a Weezy freestyle remix of “Old Town Road.”
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J.I.D. brought more heat to Chicago on Sunday. Starting the show off with “Westbrook,” it was another packed crowd dotted with mosh pits. The Atlanta rapper brought out EARTHGANG and Smino to perform their song “Sacrifices” from the new Dreamville album.
As briefly mentioned earlier, Australian DJ Flume sure knew how to disappoint a crowd on Sunday night. After wonderful vocalist Vera Blue made an early and passionate appearance for the smash hit “Never Be Like You,” Flume began smashing potted plants on stage. Matching the beat of a random sub-par remix, dirt and leaves splattering from clay containers interfered with the audio feedback from the Bud Light speakers.
Following the behavior of a small boy, Flume laid on the ground and looked up at an overhead camera. A robotic voice began to tell the crowd “Thank you for seeing Flume instead of Ariana Grande.” The jab received laughs before the voice returned to state a brand new, unreleased song was about to commence. The strange actions beforehand were completely wiped from memory when the voice of an angel could be heard, the sound of Lorde. Thinking this would be the return of the goddess herself to Lollapalooza following the infamous thunderstorm of 2017 that caused her set to be cut short just 10 minutes in, the 2013 hit “Tennis Courts” began with some added bass. I threw up in my mouth and walked away, heading toward an original artist. Thank you, next.
To close the 4-day festival, Ariana Grande put on a beautiful, fully-choreographed performance highlighted with jaw-dropping vocals that sounded even better than her recordings. With the opening notes of “God is a Woman,” it was clear we were in the presence of a pop star in its purest form. Ari brought out Social House to perform their new song “Boyfriend” for the first time, and killed it on songs like “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored,” “Side to Side” and “7 Rings.” After singing “No Tears Left to Cry” she came back out for an encore. We’ve seen Grande go through the worst times in her life publicly and you could feel that emotion in her voice. Ending her magnum opus of a performance with her uplifting breakup anthem “Thank U, Next” accompanied by fireworks, Grande thanked the crowd, silently slipped away and Lollapalooza came to a close.
Every year, we look to Lollapalooza to bring us closer to our favorite artists and show us new ones, and 2019 did not disappoint.