Chicago’s own Lollapalooza, equivalent of Coachella, returns again with its annual ruckus. This year’s lineup featured the likes of, The Weeknd, Jack White and Bruno Mars, the latter of which will be discussed later on.
Below, are my personal reviews of the acts I was able to catch.
Within the confines of a beautifully designed floral set, potential pretty girl, Clairo opened the gates of Lollapalooza with a selection of the best cutesy, pillowy love songs that she had to offer. Despite not being the most dynamic singer in the world, she proved that she can carry a tune and project to a large crowd. Her down to earth girl next door persona only adds to her music’s endearing quality. The outside production was surprisingly clear with the jangly guitars floating gently over the rumbling bass and drums. To top it all off she brought fellow bedroom pop singer and recent collaborator, Cuco, to perform a live rendition of their new song, “Drown.”
New York art punks performed afterwards with a show that was both loud, yet tame. At one point the group had some technical difficulties with one of their guitars so the band was forced to play the same chord progression for a solid two minutes straight. While only a small fraction of the set, it was still infuriating with every new riff. Probably the biggest draw to the band’s music is their witty lyricism, which as you can guess, does not translate well into a live setting. The vocals were decent in that they conveyed the band’s mature energy, but they were nothing to write home about.
Minnesota rapper, Lizzo brought her twerkfest of a show to the Tito’s Homemade Vodka Stage. Her gargantuan gospel sized vocals flooded the crowd as her, her backup dancers and DJ provided provocative, but intricate choreography for the world to see. Her unashamed confidence poured into the audience. Her messages of body positivity, female empowerment and making the most of life showed her to be a real free spirit. She was loud and proud! The flows she used were not overly complicated, but her conviction was undeniable.
Polarizing rap crooner Post Malone was arguably one of the most popular acts of the day if not the weekend. Considering his newest album, “Beerbongs & Bentleys” broke the 50 year record for the most simultaneous top 20 entries on the Billboard Hot 100, it was obvious his show would be packed to the back. When he first came out, his voice sounded really really rough similar to how he did at Coachella. I thought this would have been the cause for a disaster of a live show, but in all honesty it was not that bad. It’s not to say Post had a little from his friends: autotune and a backing track, however, underneath all of the effects, it was easy to see Post was capable of following the melody. Either way, he knew how to throw down a party. He also pleased some of the more rock oriented fans by bringing out an acoustic guitar to play a live rendition of “Stay,” which he actually sounded pretty decent over.
The self-proclaimed greatest boyband of all time came out of the gate with their wild energetic presence. In what was possibly the biggest mosh pit inducing set of the day, the Texas rap group certainly knew what the Lollapalooza crowd needed. With the weirdness of Merlyn Wood, the smooth swagger of Kevin Abstract and the beautiful boyish voice of Bearface, the group provided an array of talent sure to keep their fans entertained for the duration of their set. Interspersed with these rap bangers created these slower, moodier guitar ballads that showed off the group’s collective singing chops. The only real issue I personally had with the show was that the visuals in the background acted more as a distraction than an enhancement to the set’s mood and aesthetic.
Triple threat, Bruno Mars headlined Friday as a perfect closer to day two. Throughout the set, he ran through his colossal list of hits he has built over the years including, “24K Magic,” “Treasure” and of course, “Just the Way You Are.” As expected, he had an incredible voice and dance skills. Was there ever any doubt? What I was not expecting was how talented he would be on a multiple instruments including the electric guitar. Performing alongside him was a massive crowd of dancers, instrumentalists and backup singers all of whom were equally talented, but still allowed Bruno to have the spotlight. The main issue was when he began performing some of his slow jams in which he elongated them for no apparent reason other than to extend the song’s run-time. Outside of that, there really was not too much to complain about.
There’s a reason why Lollapalooza is one of the world’s most popular music festivals. Every year it brings in a solid mix of up and comers and arena rockers and this year was no different. Featuring artists of a multitude of genres, the festival did a great job of showcasing the talent within the modern musical landscape.
Best act: Lizzo
Worst act: Parquet Courts (marginally)