Lollapalooza Day 4: Rina Sawayama deserves headline status; Lana Del Rey overwhelms emotions

Rain found time for an encore on the final day of Lollapalooza 2023 as a steady trickle kept coming down over Grant Park on Sunday.

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Rina Sawayama performs at the Bud Light stage, during day 4 of Lollapalooza at Grant Park, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Rain found time for an encore on the final day of Lollapalooza 2023 as a steady trickle kept coming down over Grant Park on Sunday.

Festival organizers erred on the side of caution with video screens displaying emergency evacuation measures/directions just in case the weather situation deteriorated.

The rain made a mess out of the south end of Hutchinson Field where the dirt on the softball mounds turned into massive mud pits, threatening to bring Woodstock ’99 vibes just in time for the headlining set from alums Red Hot Chili Peppers Sunday night.

The funk rock act was a clear favorite of attendees Sunday with fans wearing band T-shirts pulled from every era of the Peppers’ decades-long career.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

It’s fair to say, Lollapalooza attendees tend to be youngish, so spotting a 60-year-old shirtless man in Grant Park during the festival would be a rare sight. But there were two of them onstage by the end of the headlining set on the T-Mobile stage Sunday night, as Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea displayed their svelte, tattooed physiques and their athletic performance styles during a 90-minute set that was free of rain after a damp day downtown. Throughout the night, the set was peppered with instrumental introductory segments that reflected the band’s embrace of musical improvisation. It was cool to see these unscripted moments, almost as if thousands of fans were allowed to eavesdrop on a private jam session. —Bobby Reed

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Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers performs on the T-Mobile Stage at Lollapalooza Day 4 on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023 at Grant Park in Chicago.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times, Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

Louis the Child

It was the rising duo’s second time performing at Lollapalooza in Chicago. In 2018, they performed at the festival in South America and were then invited to play the Windy City in 2019. Their set this year was full of special guests, fireworks and lots of pyrotechnics. It probably won’t be the last time they headline Lollapalooza. Their 2017 song “Love is Alive” got the most reaction from the crowd with its rolling, heavy bass and calming lyrics from singer Elohim. The two spent a few minutes remixing the track and fans waved their hands along with the beat.— Ambar Colón

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Louis the Child performs at the Perry’s stage, during day 4 of Lollapalooza at Grant Park, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Rina Sawayama

The Japanese-British talent’s rousing set clamored for headline status. With four costume changes, stylized choreography and gestured dance narratives as well as unique and quick set changes (including somehow transforming the bare-bones platform into a quasi-wrestling ring, then a dressing room, then a rodeo), it was one of the best uses of space, time and resources seen this weekend. —Selena Fragassi

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Rina Sawayama performs at the Bud Light stage, during day 4 of Lollapalooza at Grant Park, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Lana Del Rey

Sunday night, Lana Del Rey began her set looking like a bride with her short white Priscilla dress carrying a long train; by the end, the oversized fabric became a bedsheet to literally carry her away. If her music wasn’t so good, it would seem truly farcical, but there’s no denying the star has created some exceptional tunes over the course of her nine incredible albums, with the pomp and circumstance fitting of the pop noir grandeur. Del Rey’s passioned delivery of “Blue Jeans” was overwhelming, while the live ballerina dancing along to “Ultraviolence” was so beautiful it became emotional. The way in which Del Rey languishes slowly over each lyric and movement in “Pretty When You Cry” made it easy to fall into a trance. —Selena Fragassi

A Boogie wit da Hoodie

The last time 27-year-old Julius Dubose, known professionally as A Boogie wit da Hoodie, had the honor of performing on a Lollapalooza stage, he and his hype man left their set wishing they could play a bigger stage. Five years later, the rapper from the Bronx got to perform at one of the largest stages at the megafest. He channeled the Big Apple onstage with street lights and traffic cones as props. Boogie brought out Brooklyn rapper Lola Brooke as he reflected on how far he’s come. Sharing the Lolla stage with a special guest is all about spreading the wealth, and she crashed the party with her song “Don’t Play With It.” — Ambar Colón

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A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie raps on the T-Mobile Stage at Lollapalooza Day 4 on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023 at Grant Park in Chicago.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

Lil Yachty

“Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen,” Lil Yachty told an audience that started settling in for him at the Bud Light stage at least 40 minutes before his arrival. Fans sang along to “Broccoli” until the last line when Yachty dropped his mic and let the crowds finish the song. At 25 years old, the rapper has been an essential part of rap since 2015, when he dropped “One Night” — another song with fans dancing and singing energetically. The song “drive ME crazy!” had fans mellowed out, enjoying the expressive and passionate last portion of Lil Yachty’s set. — Ambar Colón

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Lil Yachty performs on day four of the Lollapalooza Music Festival on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023, at Grant Park in Chicago.

Rob Grabowski, AP Photos

Mt. Joy

Offering a style that merges folk-rock delicacy with jam-band intensity, Mt. Joy kept its hardcore fans gleefully entranced during an hourlong set. Like any band that knows how to engage the tie-dyed contingent at a festival, Mt. Joy knew when to peak, ending its set with a succession of numbers that steadily cranked up the sing-along factor. Even hundreds of yards from the stage, the sound mix for this performance was outstanding. People who are attending their first big outdoor festival probably don’t realize how fortunate they are. Teenagers today enjoy the benefits of technological advancements in outdoor amplification that prevent shows from sounding like an unbalanced bevy of bass notes reverberating around a submarine. Their parents might recall those bad old days. —Bobby Reed

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Matt Quinn, of the band Mt. Joy, performs on Day 4 of the Lollapalooza Music Festival on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023, at Grant Park in Chicago.

Rob Grabowski, AP Photos

Alvvays

The always solid quintet was definitely up for the challenge, but whether the Lolla crowd thought of the set as more than hold music for Lil Yachty at the nearby Bud Light Stage is up for debate (several people nearby were doing countdowns every 10 minutes for the rapper’s appearance and seemed to be simply passing the time). Regardless, Alvvays’ festival double dipping was a bonus for the band, which recently came out of hibernation with third album “Blue Rev,” released last October, the group’s first since 2017’s Juno Award-winning record, “Antisocialites.” —Selena Fragassi

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Alvvays performs at the Tito’s stage during day 4 of Lollapalooza at Grant Park.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Dehd

Emily Kempf hit the stage as a superb candidate for the best-dressed artist at Lolla. The Chicago-based indie-rock trio’s aesthetic is distinguished by unconventional approaches, and the vocal interplay between singer and bassist Kempf and singer and guitarist Jason Balla made “Clear” (a cut from the 2022 album “Blue Skies”) a particular highlight, and the co-lead vocalists also displayed their comedy chops. Drawing on ’60s garage rock, the band whipped through 20 songs, many punctuated by Kempf’s mesmerizing whoops, tongue cluck noises, powerful, controlled howls and even some “sha-la-la” lyrics and “hiccup” style vocalizations that are familiar to fans of early rock pioneer Buddy Holly. Dehd made some old, tried-and-true musical elements seem remarkably fresh. —Bobby Reed

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Emily Kempf, left, and Jason Balla of the band Dehd, perform on day four of the Lollapalooza Music Festival on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023, at Grant Park in Chicago.

Rob Grabowski, AP Photos

Bakar

Bakar might have been feeling the effects of the depressing weather Sunday. It took a bit for the London-based singer, producer and model (who often worked with the late Virgil Abloh) to bring some needed energy to his set. A sea change came in the set with the 2023 single “Alive!” as the singer took the message to heart and brought some life to the performance, jumping down from the stage to co-mingle with the crowd on the barricade. By the time he came upon uber hit “Hell N Back,” Bakar had climbed a section of scaffolding, standing on the lip of the VIP section as he led a mass singalong of the track, much like what happened this year at Coachella, where the crowd nearly drowned him out. By the time his new album “Halo” comes out in September, there’s no doubt the British talent will hit his stride and be a big one to watch. —Selena Fragassi

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Bakar sings on the Tito’s Stage at Lollapalooza Day 4 on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023 at Grant Park in Chicago. | Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

Sarah Kinsley

Some fans in Grant Park at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday undoubtedly were there specifically to see alt-pop singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Kinsley on the Coinbase stage. But others in the crowd could be categorized as voracious listeners who were eager to hear whoever happened to be playing. But Kinsley, 23, made the journey worth it for fans, offering a 40-minute set spiced with balladry, dreamy soundscapes and slinky, danceable beats. Her rendition of the hypnotic tune “Lovegod” was particularly compelling, as Kinsley demonstrated her astounding vocal range and her self-described artistic debt to the alt-rock band Cocteau Twins. Kinsley seems to be one industry break away from huge stardom. Placement of one of her songs on, say, the soundtrack to a hit sci-fi series could be the ticket that allows fans to one day look back and say, “Oh, I saw her before she was big, when she played super-early in the day at Lolla.” —Bobby Reed

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Sarah Kinsley performs at the Coinbase stage, during day 4 of Lollapalooza at Grant Park, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023. | Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

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