Lollapalooza celebrated it’s 25th birthday this weekend with an extended four-day celebration, performances from legendary artists — including Lolla founder Perry Farrell with ’90s alt-rock band Jane’s Addiction — and massive crowds that overtook Grant Park from Thursday through Sunday.
Nostalgia was thick throughout the weekend as evidenced by festival organizers’ programming. Radiohead returned nearly a decade after its highly acclaimed 2008 appearance. Jane’s Addiction took fans back to the early ’90s by playing its album “Ritual de lo Habitual” in full. The Red Hot Chili Peppers eased through a set of classic throwback hits. And LCD Soundsytem closed Lollapalooza on Sunday night with a career-spanning set of hits.
But Farrell has made it clear he’s not interested in looking back, but forward. He’s ready to move on from the original alt/indie rock music festival he launched in 1991, a festival he says has lost its way.
Gallery“The idea that you can protect yourself from people who want to make millions of dollars off your idea — you better have a suit of armour,” Perry told the Chicago Tribune in a recent interview. “After 25 years I have another project I’m about to start. It will be music-centric. I’m going to make a new scene, a new place, a different feel. Music will be at the heart of it, but it will be a completely new experience. That’s all I can tell you. . . . At my new project, there will be great house music. I hope I will keep EDM [which he says now permeates Lolla’s core] at the door. They will be turned away.’ ”
Here’s a look at some of the many artists who helped bring to a close Lollapalooza’s 25th birthday celebration on Sunday:
Sunday night’s headliner LCD Soundsystem came prepared to close out Lollapalooza’s 25th anniversary celebration in grand style. “Us v Them” pulsed throughout the southern end of Grant Park as frontman James Murphy took the stage. “The time has come today,” he repeatedly sang to the stage’s massive crowd gathered on the summer night. Stage lights shone brightly on a large disco ball hanging above him; it was time to dance. The group followed up with its biggest hit, “Daft Punk is Playing at My House.” A giant LED screen behind the band displayed glitchy animations as Murphy turned Grant Park into his own dance party. Like previous headliners at the fest, LCD Soundsystem relied heavily on nostalgia to move the set forward as Murphy reminisced about the group’s performance here nearly a decade ago. The show also served as the band’s Chicago comeback after disbanding in 2011. People jived to the group’s feel-good beats as Murphy sang his way through fan favorites like “I Can Change,” “Get Innocuous” and “Movement.” Even during the set’s most chaotic and distorted sounds, the entire crowd kept dancing. The set was a throwback to the disco, punk and electronic music of the early ’80s that inspired the group’s music. The positive energy that radiated from their set made it the perfect festival closer.
The three sisters of HAIM showcased their charisma and personalities on Sunday night while easing through a set of tracks form their 2013 album, “Days Are Gone.” The album features pop-rock influences that have elevated the girl group’s music to mainstream heights, including opening tours for the likes of Rihanna and Taylor Swift. Their live performance, however, strays from the sometimes bubble-gum pop sounds of the studio recording in exchange for a more hard rock-infused sound. Sister Danielle Haim led the show, commanding the audience to dance through hits like “Don’t save Me,” “If I Could Change Your Mind” and “Falling.” Danielle blissfully smiled through hard-edged guitar solos that sent the crowd to cloud nine. Three songs into the set, the girls dedicated a memorable cover of the late Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” that set the energetic pace for the rest of their performance.
Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke’s charm was undeniable as he commanded a crowd of exhausted Lolla-goers into a large mosh pit on the festival’s fourth day. The English indie-rock band opened its set with “Only He Can Heal Me,” an experimental track from the group’s newest, less raucous, album “Hymns.” But they followed up with the upbeat “Hunting the Witches” that introduced an element of rowdiness that stayed the remainder of the night. Bloc Party’s set was filled with fan favorites spanning the group’s entire career, illustrating Bloc Party’s evolution throughout the years. Crowd favorites included “Banquet,” “Helicopter” and “Octopus.” Album tracks from “Hymns” were sprinkled throughout the set, but Okerek’s stage presence kept the crowd going during some of the quieter — although still feisty — moments.
Years & Years
The thumping beat of “Take Shelter” welcomed Olly Alexander, frontman of British electronica trio Years & Years, on stage to an already riled-up crowd. Wearing crimson shorts and a see-through, lace shirt, Alexander gyrated while belting vocals over thegroup’s signature beats. Alexander commanded the crowd with his theatrical stage presence. Not surprising, given that he’s also an actor — fans may recognize the Years & Years frontman from his appearance in the popular UK drama “Skins.” The set was a bold and flamboyant celebration of self-expression, complete with flashy stage lights, voguing and lots of pirouettes. Alexander elevated the set by abandoning the all the showmanship at one point for an intimate rendition of the ballad “Eyes Shut” on the piano. He then wowed by covering Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” and Drake’s “Hotline Bling” in a synth-heavy mashup. The trio closed its set with the hits “Desire” and “King.”
Halsey, who played Lollapalooza’s smaller BMI stage last year, returned this time at the fest’s main stage. The electropop singer and songwriter emerged slightly resembling Pink and Miley Cyrus, with her platinum hair, black T-shirt tied into a crop top, high-waisted shorts and high-heeled boots. She channeled Pink’s angsty attitude while singing through her misfit anthem “Gasoline” to a large crowd of mostly millennial Lolla-goers. A product of the Tumblr generation, Halsey first achieved Internet fame with her One Direction fan blog and by recording parody covers of Taylor Swift hits. She’s been a pop music fan for years now, and those influences shone brightly during her set. Halsey eased her way through her newest album, “Badlands,” weaving in Justin Bieber’s “The Feeling,” which she sang in full — rather than just her guest verse. Her set featured large LED screens displaying scenic backdrops and dramatic video interludes that wouldn’t be out of place at a Madonna show. Although Halsey’s music has not yet achieved the same commercial success as the stars her performance channels, her set justified the massive hype following pop’s newcomer.