Lollapalooza 2021 continued on Saturday with a high-profile and eclectic Day 3 lineup that included Megan Thee Stallion, Post Malone, Limp Bizkit, Freddie Gibbs, 1970s pop-rockers Journey, and singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun in one of the day’s most heartfelt, powerful and timely sets.
And following the latest COVID safety protocols put forth by festival organizers late Friday, attendees donned masks for a visit to the fest’s indoor merchandise shop.
Here’s a look at some of the sounds of Day 3:
Knowing how big of a music fan Post Malone is, it’s probably a good bet he really missed seeing Journey, too. Still, he filled his competing hour-plus set with tons of substance that made it as much of a watch to close out Saturday night at Lollapalooza — especially for the overwhelmingly young denizens who showed up in droves to the T-Mobile Stage.
Post admitted a few times he was rusty having been away from the stage, like everyone else, for the past year and a half, and though he never faltered, his set was a big warmup for his own upcoming Posty Fest in Dallas over Halloween weekend that he slyly took time to plug during his Lolla performance.
Walking a bare stage gallow setup, Post opened his set confidently with “Wow” as a procession of fireworks added to the percussion. The pyro show would return later for “Take What You Want,” his track featuring Ozzy Osbourne that was a great show of force, even sans the Prince of Darkness. Post did, however, bring out Tyla Yaweh for their song “Tommy Lee.”
Post wears his mixed bag of influences more obviously than even his tattoos, his music spanning the spectrum of rap, hip-hop, R&B, pop and rock, and his vocals shapeshifting from melodic singing to rhythmic flow.
Other songs that made the night included “Better Now,” “Too Young,” “Sunflower” “I Fall Apart” (against a field full of lighters) and “Stay,” the latter of which he delivered on acoustic guitar, telling the crowd it would be the most boring part of the set if they wanted to take a bathroom break.
Boring is one word Malone is not, ever engaging as he is, a sole person on stage able to command a crowd through sheer vulnerability.
Megan Thee Stallion
Lollapalooza has done well this year with attempting to bring more representation to the festival — in musical genre, in cultural makeup and with a good number of women-led acts who still, sadly, have to fight for their presence on many festival stages.
Megan Thee Stallion was one of the fest’s most representative of this needed diversity — living proof that women have a lot to say in the boys’ club of hip-hop, and who has, in short order, become a Joan of Arc in the genre, paving the way for many female fans to get membership, too.
Megan played on that dynamic during her set, repeatedly calling on her “hot girls” (her collective term for the dames in the crowd and also her flygirls who catapulted into physical dance moves that many times don’t seem physically possible). The men in the crowd were of course just as into it — but in a set as sexually suggestive as Stallion’s, it’s not about exploitation but liberation.
Her beat-blaring song “Body,” one of the highlights of the set, set that tone early on. As did “W.A.P.” later — because regardless of all the controversy that song has had, the message lies in giving ownership back to a woman and her body, which has been the muse of many a song in the history of music.
In between the moments of twerking and the unbelievably unnecessary air horns, though, Megan also had some wise words, encouraging the crowd to take mental health seriously as well as their education — the rapper proudly declared she will be graduating this fall from Texas Southern University.
Other performance highlights included “Savage” and “Sex Talk,” and her custom-made unitard made out of band T-shirts of Guns N Roses, AC/DC, The Ramones and Led Zeppelin. Fitting since Megan Thee Stallion is a modern-day show pony of the “sex, drugs and rock n roll” vibe.
Saturday night at Lollapalooza felt like something out of “West Side Story” — either you were on the side of the park with Machine Gun Kelly and Limp Bizkit or you were on the side of the park with Freddie Gibbs and Megan Thee Stallion.
Though MGK was the pretty caliber surprise guest at the Bud Light Seltzer Sessions area at the same time as Freddie Gibbs’ set, it was clear the love for the “Something To Rap About” talent in this city remains palpable (and it was no contest for Megan, either, who drew the largest crowd yet at Lolla).
Hailing from the Chicago hip-hop-adjacent town of Gary, Indiana, Gibbs didn’t need a hype man to warm up his set — though the delayed intro might have been to allow the rapper time to save his breath as he may very well hold the record for the quickest flow. (Or it could have been the drugs he said he did prior to the performance, admitting how nervous he was to be back out on stage after a two-year pause.)
That led him to get the crowd going in a chant of “F*** COVID.” Gibbs doesn’t mince words, which is what makes so many followers praise him, and also nabbed him a best rap album nomination for his latest album, “Alfredo,” which came out in 2020. Gibbs made up for lost time at the festival, unleashing many of the tracks, the most noteworthy being “Scottie Beam.” During his set, Gibbs also announced he’s at work on a new album, proving he’s clearly quick at everything he does.
Fate has treated Cannons well in the past year. After their saucy hit “Fire For You” landed on the Netflix teen drama “Never Have I Ever,” the L.A. trio was signed to Columbia Records and had a #1 hit on the Billboard alternative charts.
Keeping the crowd on bated breath, the act ended their dreamy early set with that number, as singer Michelle Joy commenting on how the track “changed their lives” after working on their craft for seven years, with bandmates Ryan Clapham (guitar) and Paul Davis (keyboards) finding Joy through a Craigslist ad.
It’s a story told a thousand times, but only a few bands like Cannons make it to a main stage at Lollapalooza — and they clearly have the je ne sais quoi to back it up.
It was also the band’s first time ever playing Chicago and the trio, accompanied by a live drummer, came dressed for the occasion.
Joy looked like a mix between Cher and She-Ra with a gold jumpsuit that hinted at her pop star career in the making. Her bandmates were wearing equally vibrant Midas shades, looking like they just got off the set of “Miami Vice.”
It makes sense since that seems to be their decade of choice. The band effortlessly floats in the ‘80s post-disco electro-rock clouds, with a fresh pop veneer on songs like “Bad Dream,” “Talk Talk” and “Hurricance,” the latter debuting on Saturday, from their forthcoming album, out this fall.
Although Joy struggled at times to find her vocal footing, the set showed great promise for these up-and-comers.
Michigander’s Jason Singer swore he thought he’d only see about 20 people at his set, but there was easily a hundred times that amount of revelers taking in the easy-like-Saturday-afternoon performance delivering perfectly crafted indie pop.
Of course hailing from Michigan (Detroit, to be specific), Singer and crew imbued that laidback Midwest attitude in both their music and their exultation for being tapped for a spot at Lollapalooza.
The frontman commented several times it was a “dream come true” and something he could only pine for as a high schooler when he first began writing music, like the song “Fears.” But with his talent, it was really only a matter of time until people started listening — and they have.
The band hit a high note with material from the recently released EP, “Everything Will Be Ok Eventually,” a figurative place it feels like we’re getting back to, Singer said.
Later, they began with a cover of Radiohead’s “Karma Police” morphing it into their storyteller song “East Chicago, IN.”
The addition of a trombone player in the ensemble gave the band another layer to peel away and one that has many wanting to know more.
Thankfully, they were scheduled at the same time as Madrid indie rock band Hinds whose issues with visas prevented them from making an appearance at Lollapalooza, with Michigander filling in the gaps.
It’s really a wonder the BMI Stage at Lollapalooza is not the most crowded of the day, every day, with its track record of producing the next gen starts — and after seeing Joy Oladokun’s heartfelt, powerful, deep, timely and important set on Saturday, it’s clear she is next to launch.
Singer-songwriters with both universal appeal and resonating perspective like Oladokun don’t come around often, but when they do, they make their permanent mark. The songs she chose for this set touched on a range of themes — heartbreak and love (“Sorry Isn’t Good Enough”), the crossroads of religion and coming out (“Jordan”) and the current socio-political complex (“I See America”). The latter she interspersed with a house-toppling cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the intersection of the two songs giving its own moment of pause.
Born in ’92, “I See America” is her reflection about being born in the year of the Rodney King Riots and, almost 30 years later, witnessing a similar uproar of the death of George Floyd: “It’s exhausting to have to do this all the time … this song is about the tension between what a country can be and what it shows itself to be.”
To close out the set, Oladokun (switching between electric and acoustic guitars) chose another interesting medley — pairing her latest imprint “Sunday” with Prince’s “The Cross,” bubbling into a musical baptism with its amount of spirit. “I would love for you to forever associate me with Prince, how he can make you think and dance at the same time,” she said.
Oladokun doesn’t give herself nearly enough credit for being able to do so already. She may come off carefree with her jeans and Jimi Hendrix T-shirt ensemble and a sing-a-long coffeehouse vibe, but she has a fire inside we will continue to see rise over time.