In its near 15-year history in Chicago, Lollapalooza regretfully has had only a handful of female headliners, finally catching up by closing out the weekend with Sunday’s finale set from pop princess Ariana Grande.
Grande did the same service for Coachella back in April as well, but unlike that star-studded set that included ’N Sync, Nicki Minaj and P. Diddy, Grande stuck to her own devices for much of the Lolla performance, with the exception of Social House (her rumored new beau Mikey Foster’s band) joining her for their new track “Boyfriend.”
While Grande alone should have been enough, it wasn’t. The lukewarm set lacked much-needed gravitas and ended abruptly with 10 minutes still allotted in the published set time.
Grande is one hell of a singer, calling to mind the glory days of Mariah Carey, but that’s where the pop star allure for the most part ends. The set display and video series needed more creative direction, her outfits have been reused to the point of becoming uniforms, and Grande still lacks a great deal of confidence on stage, often burying herself in a sea of backup dancers that most top talent would make, well, back up.
There were some memorable moments, among them the show opener and feminist anthem “God Is a Woman” and the whopper ending sequence composed of “The Light Is Coming,” “So Into You,” “Dangerous Woman,” “Break Free” and a quick encore of “Thank U, Next.” However, with some exceptions, Grande’s music still struggles to wholly identify with an adult audience, which left a good half of the park empty for her set.
Here’s to more female headliners in Lollapalooza’s future, including Grande, but maybe a few years down the road when she’s really ready to wow a crowd.