At Lollapalooza, some seek out the new, others the tried and true

SHARE At Lollapalooza, some seek out the new, others the tried and true
SHARE At Lollapalooza, some seek out the new, others the tried and true

As Paul McCartney took out a ukulele to play “Something” —a song that’s more than survived 46 years —Grant Park became a lot smaller.

As thousands sang along, young and old, McCartney reminded festivalgoers how powerful music can be during Lollapalooza’s 11thyear in Chicago.

McCartney’s Friday headlining show marked a big return to nostalgia for Lollapalooza, where musical legends mingle with newcomers — bands with a couple of radio hits vs. musicians who have been around for decades.

The massive festival — featuring over 130 bands on eight stages – is what you make of it. You can plan out your day listening to under-the-radar rock, rap and pop, or you can dance the night and day away at Perry’s Stage, where electronic dance music DJs took their rein, the pounding beats felt from far away.

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A quick look at Snapchat, which offered glimpses into each day of the festival, showed a very young crowd singing along to pop artist Charli XCX, dancing to Kaskade and jumping up and down as dance music blared from the speakers. They wore flower headbands and short shorts. They came in large groups, and they had a good time.

Charli XCX performs Saturday at Lollapalooza. | Ashlee Rezin/For Sun-Times Media

Charli XCX performs Saturday at Lollapalooza. | Ashlee Rezin/For Sun-Times Media

A young crowd enjoys Charli XCX on Saturday at Lollapalooza. | Ashlee Rezin/For Sun-Times Media

A young crowd enjoys Charli XCX on Saturday at Lollapalooza. | Ashlee Rezin/For Sun-Times Media

They crossed barricades and swarmed the stage, as directed by Texas rapper Travi$ Scott, then watched him get arrested for disorderly conduct. It was moments like this, of course, that were heavily captured across social media, phones glued to festivalgoers’ hands to capture any big moment.

And the young crowd chose award-winning pop singer Sam Smith — singing along to “Stay With Me” — or Swedish DJ Alesso over heavy metal rockers Metallica. They listened to energetic dance beats with Kaskade over the rock legend McCartney.

But headliners like the Beatleand the heavy metal darlings brought out a different crowd, ones whowill shell out big bucks to see their favorites. Men and women wore their favorite Beatles T-shirts. Some draped themselves in British flags. At Metallica’s Saturday show, men wore Lollapalooza shirts from 1996, when the bandheadlined with Soundgarden.

Metallica frontman James Hetfield played for the fans, some of whomwon a place on stage behind the band. The band’s more than two-hour set included “Enter Sandman,” “Master of Puppets,” and “The Unforgiven,” staples in the band’s nearly 34-year career.

As thousands swarmed to the north side of Grant Park, rapper and singer Kid Cudi opened his set Saturday evening with “Revofev,” as fans sang along. He danced across the stage wearing a Pixies T-shirt. Cudi –who gained the attention of Kanye West early on his career — lockedin the crowd with his hit “Mojo So Dope.” As he sang “Marijuana,” he took a seat on the stage, legs dangling, with a smile on his face —perhaps taking it all in.

On Sunday, weather was an unavoidable factor.The festivalwas briefly evacuated as a strong afternoon thunderstorm passed through the Chicago area. Music resumed at 4 p.m. on a rearranged schedule.

Florence + The Machine, a rare female-led headlining band, watched itsset time switch three times as storms loomed —from8 to 9:15, and then back to 9. But Florence Welch came on stage ready to use all of her time on stage,dancing, jumping and crowd surfing. She made use of an aisle dividing the crowd as a track for runningback and forth. You would never know she broke her ankle in April while jumping into the crowd at Coachella.

Live, Welch is pitch perfect, even better than her recorded songs.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine performs Sunday at Lollapalooza. | Ashlee Rezin/For Sun-Times Media

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine performs Sunday at Lollapalooza. | Ashlee Rezin/For Sun-Times Media

As rain sent some home early, she made light of the situation.“I dedicate this song to the storm,” Welch said before singing “Cosmic Love.”

But alas, the set ended at 9:55.

“We’re so sorry but the storm has won. And we’ve been asked to leave the stage. … We love you. We’re so sorry,” Welch told the crowd before singing the Machine’s biggest hit, “Dog Days Are Over.”

Other bands also dealt with later and shorter set times. Indie rockers TV on the Radio played a 40-minute set as festivalgoers were alerted that headliners would start at 9, 15 minutes earlier.

Kid Cudi, in a Pixies T-shirt, performs Saturday at Lollapalooza. | Saiyna Bashir/Sun-Times

Kid Cudi, in a Pixies T-shirt, performs Saturday at Lollapalooza. | Saiyna Bashir/Sun-Times

Fans enjoy the Kid Cudi set Saturday at Lollapalooza. | Saiyna Bashir/Sun-Times.

Fans enjoy the Kid Cudi set Saturday at Lollapalooza. | Saiyna Bashir/Sun-Times.

Besides the four larger stages, there was plenty of talent at three smaller side stages, where Swedish folk band First Aid Kit and indie pop duo Sylvan Esso performed Friday. On Saturday, Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit screamed and rocked out during a rousing evening set. In an homage to Paul McCartney’s epic headlining set a night earlier, the band rewarded the crowd with a cover of “Don’t Let Me Down” with Georgia rocker T. Hardy Morris, whose unique voice caught the crowd’s attention.

On Friday, Gary Clark Jr. — a soulful blues and rock artist from Austin —played adjacent to where McCartney would take over. There’s always a little bit of musical diversity at Lollapalooza,sometimes in the form of a lonesome country artist. But Clark proved that blues can seep into any type of music as he blurred the lines between genres. A big turnout for the artist proved festivalgoers — full of Chicagoans – like their blues.

Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard played a heartwrenching set Friday evening, as festivalgoers soaked up the still very hot sun. Howard later made an appearance with McCartney, guesting on a performance of “Get Back.”

Besides playing a satisfying catalog that had the crowd grinning, McCartney also played for the younger crowd with “FourFiveSeconds,” his hit with Rihanna and Kanye West. Perhaps it was a pun, or a way to reveal himself to those who didn’t know the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. Perhaps those people now know. Or maybe they were out dancing the night away at another stage and his musical prowess will remain a mystery.


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