Florence and the Machine
: Today definitely felt like the final day of a festival. It was a struggle to even stand up for an entire set and it seemed like a hiccup was bound to happen at any moment. That possibility materialized when the festival was evacuated from about 2:30 to 3:40 for an underwhelming thunderstorm. The music began again at 4 PM and, much to the relief of both the artists and the audience, nobody's set was canceled—some were pushed back a few hours.
After the fest was back on, Strand of Oaks's spacey and exuberant brand of indie rock brought back momentum and breathed life back into the day. The project's creator, Timothy Showalter, encouraged bystanders to step out from under the trees saying, "It's not gonna storm. I beat the fucking thunder. I told him not to come." Showalter expressed extreme gratitude to his audience as did 22-year-old newbie Skylar Spence (previously known as Saint Pepsi), who said he was concerned his set would be canceled and was visibly ecstatic to have the chance to perform.
Bully's Alicia Bognanno
Following Spence were Nashville's Bully, who brought a grungy edge to the afternoon. Everybody was crushing super hard on front woman Alicia Bognanno and her passionate, gritty vocals. Bognanno isn't a stranger to Chicago—she interned at Electrical Audio under Steve Albini. I ended my festival weekend with FKA Twigs. Her dramatic and electrifying dance moves felt cathartic and her moody vibe provided an emotional outlet for anybody exhausted by the weekend.
: The 15-minute minipanic of a rain delay had cast a haze over Lollapalooza, and the lethargic crowd needed a spark. But alternative schizoid pop duo Twenty One Pilots prescribed something closer to a lightning bolt. Drummer Josh Dun crowd surfed while playing his kit and vocalist Tyler Joseph sprinted across the stage (and out into the crowd himself) like he was at a track meet. Aliens, backflips, and their classic black ski masks all made cameo appearances. You can't make this stuff up—these guys made a case for being named a top-five act this weekend.
A$AP Rocky tried to bring the same energy from the Bud Light stage, and while the Mob behind him brought the hype in full force, his show came off as insubstantial. There were nice Kriss Kross and Nirvana tributes (really, the DJ just played "Jump" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and A$AP let the crowd rock), but nothing creative was done with the bonus material, and it would have been nice if the main man himself had spent some more time actually playing the emcee.
If you closed the day with FKA Twigs, you might have left Lolla in that same postrain haze. The noted experimentalist brought one of the more visually interesting performances of the weekend, even though the lyrics was incomprehensible and the lights and sounds were harsh at times. Still, you probably left thinking about what you saw. Perhaps that highlights what Lolla is all about: maybe the idea isn't to be all there.
: On the train to Lollapalooza Sunday morning I overheard a conductor telling some clearly non-Lolla goers that the third day is always the worst. After spending a weekend sweating, drinking, and getting high, he said, the kids come on the train strung out and smelling like shit. As I was stuck in the middle of the biggest crowd of sticky bodies I'd ever seen waiting to get back into the festival after the rain delay shut things down, I experienced what the conductor was talking about first hand. It stunk. As I stood there, unable to move or breathe clean air, I tried not to think of the stampede scene in The Lion King
. Fortunately, reentry went off without any severe hitches, and I was back in right around 4 PM.
They didn't have to cancel any sets. Instead, the Lolla powers that be worked some magic with the schedule. Acts were moved around and some sets were shortened, but all went on. I resumed the day with Strand of Oaks, who played a fantastic hard-blues set. And there was added bonus of watching them play one of the only stages where there was some actual shade.
The rescheduling caused Wild Belle and A$AP Rocky to overlap. This probably wasn't a problem for most people—they don't exactly have the same fan base—but I was hoping to catch both, so I needed to make a decision. Ultimately I elected to catch the first 15 minutes of Wild Belle's exceedingly soulful performance and then book it over to Rocky.
I'm nominating A$AP Rocky's set for the best place to get puked on at Lolla. Fortunately I escaped any actual spray, but in the first half of the set I saw at least three passed-out and vomiting girls getting carried away by their friends. Rocky's set itself was only OK. He did so many Chief Keef covers I was half expecting Keef's notorious hologram to make an appearance. Of course Rocky played "LSD" and of course that prompted everyone to start lighting up.
At this point, it was hard to differentiate between stage light shows and actual lightning. Florence and the Machine, competing for attention against the spectacular natural display, played a pretty perfect set for the stormy weather, including a long rendition of "Dog Days are Over," before Lolla had to close again in anticipation of the storm. Without much ceremony, the headlining bands wrapped up their sets early and Lolla weekend was finally at an end.
Florence and the Machine
: Well, it happened. A reported 100,000 people poured out of Grant Park and into the South Loop at 2:30 PM as the threat of a severe storm loomed. George Ezra was booked to start his set at the Samsung Galaxy stage, and fans stood waiting in disbelief. Perry's fans were also glued to the front of the EDM stage hoping MAKO would still go on. But the masses complied with the instructions that blared over the speakers: "ALL attendees must evacuate the park!"
Along the Balbo bridge, the tipsy festgoers participated in a massive rendition of "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye." As it began to drizzle, a baritone horn player on the street hosted a dance party with a cover of "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)." Perhaps the only upside to weather disruptions are the moments we tough out together.
"I went to school over theeeeeere! Used to smoke weed in this park all the tiiiiiiiiiiime!" Twin Peaks vocalist Cadien Lake James said in a sing-song voice at the beginning of their set, shouting out his alma mater, Jones College Prep, which is located a few blocks west of the stage. While the early afternoon's windy dust storms reduced the sound to a scratchy, muffled racket, it actually complemented the local quintet's brand of fuzzy garage rock.
A$AP Rocky served up a platter of covers and samples, from House of Pain's "Jump Around" to Chief Keef's underground smash "Faneto" to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" to Vic Mensa's "U Mad," which drew the Chicago MC onstage for a surprise cameo. Although I was disappointed Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye didn't dive much deeper into his own trip-hop catalogue than top 40 hits like "Fuckin' Problems" or "Goldie," he still commanded the crazed crowd like the DJ of a massive party—complete with a crowd-surfing wheelchair.