Shaquille O’Neal a decent DJ and a festival all-star at Lollapalooza

The NBA great’s entry in the mosh pit was in keeping with the ’90s vibe of his set.

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Shaquille O’Neal spins as DJ Diesel on the final day of Lollapalooza, Aug. 4, 2019.

Justin Jackson/ Sun-Times

The much-anticipated Lollapalooza DJ set from basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal aka Diesel on Sunday evening wasn’t a total slam dunk, but he got one of the biggest rock-star receptions of the weekend anyway as kids in a rainbow of NBA jerseys lined up near the perimeter of the backstage area hoping to get a photo and wave as the towering icon exited Perry’s Stage.

At 7 feet, 1 inch, Shaq may be the tallest DJ ever and stood a good four feet over the turntable stacks where he spun numbers from his various releases including four studio albums, the last of which came out in 1998.


Fire sprays during Shaquille O’Neal’s DJ set at Lollapalooza.

Justin Jackson/Sun-Times

The sound during his set felt over-steeped in that era, especially with his choice of samples from Queen’s “We Will Rock You” to “Olé Olé Olé” and “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble” acting like a major throwback to the Bulls’ ’90s reign. His personal hype man and vintage game footage on the video monitors also added to the feeling.

Shaq also paid homage to Chicago’s hip-hop impresarios including snippets from Chance’s “No Problem” and beginning his set with Kayne West’s “Jesus Walks” alongside a holy character actor and the crowd spraying water bottles, making it look like a baptismal shower. He also picked from “Old Town Road,” perhaps the most sampled song at Lollapalooza all weekend.


An actor dressed as Jesus Christ appears while Shaquille O’Neal plays “Jesus Walks” during Lollapalooza.

Justin Jackson/Sun-Times

But the best moment of the set was when Shaq descended from the stage to join the crowd in the mosh pit he had continually begged to be formed. His voice came over the speakers warning, “You want to push me, be my guest, … I’m giving you my permission,” followed by an ominous laugh. From what we could tell, no one took him up on the offer.

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