What’s up Lollapalooza? said Royal Blood drummer Ben Thatcher on stage Friday afternoon as day two at Lollapalooza got rolling in Chicago. It’s good to be back!
One of the more inventive duos in recent rock memory, Royal Blood was augmented by a keyboard player Friday, whipping up a cacophony of sound over the course of an hour on the Bud Light Seltzer main stage.
Kicking off with Typhoons, from their latest album of the same name, Royal Blood added a danceable groove to an always ferocious rock assault, exploring inventive new sounds on album three.
I think we’re always evolving as people and as a band. I think to not do that is to sort of censor yourself or stunt your growth, said vocalist and bassist Mike Kerr backstage prior to the set. That’s just part of being not only a musician but a human.
Kerr’s unique bass playing style conjures up images of a full band. A pulsating bassline drove the new Boilermaker early in the Lollapalooza set. Ladies and gentlemen, Ben f–ing Thatcher! said Kerr on stage, pointing to his left as he introduced the drummer.
Last night we were at The Vic and it was rocking, said Thatcher of Royal Blood’s intimate Thursday night aftershow in front of just 1,400 fans. It was nice to be back in Chicago playing rock music to the people that want to listen to rock music again. It was terrible playing to no fans, I’ll tell you that, he said, looking back on the last two years. If you’re going to any future festivals, make sure you hydrate and bring sun cream. Without those things, a festival can be a really bad experience.
Indie pop trio MUNA had 45 minutes Friday on the Discord stage, a unique setting at Lollapalooza favored for the tree-lined shade it provides. Last month, the group released its self-titled third album via Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records, moving from a major to an indie label for the first time.
I guess it is a transition to go from a major label to an indie, said singer Katie Gavin. We’re a pop band and we sound polished but that’s just because Naomi and Josette are really good producers, she said, complimenting her bandmates. We actually can function really well on an indie label because of how much stuff we do on our own. So it’s been really wonderful. Phoebe gives us a ton of creative power and freedom and really supports us. We’ve been lucky our entire career honestly to get to do what we want. It’s just amazing – things have just worked out, said Gavin. We’ve had a lot of dark moments. And we’re not sure where things are gonna go – if we’ll be able to keep doing this. But we just keep showing up and it has worked out in our favor.
In 2018, L.A. punk quartet The Regrettes performed during a Lolla pre show in the lobby of a downtown Chicago hotel. Four years later, they’ve moved up to a midday slot on the Tito’s stage at Grant Park’s Petrillo Music Shell.
It’s magical. It’s been really incredible to directly compare how much we’ve grown in the past four years, said singer and guitarist Lydia Night backstage following the group’s set. I feel so proud of all of us for who we are as people and individually and how we are as a group. And the show we put on, I feel very proud of it.
Today’s set was truly probably – no, it was definitely one of our greatest festival sets ever, added guitarist Genessa Gariano. I thought the crowd was so enthusiastic and so fun and I teared up for the first time in a very long time during a set. Just seeing people move together is such a special thing. And to see it move together to something we’re putting out is even more incredible, she said.
It made it so much easier to play well, said drummer Drew Thomsen. Because you have so many eyes looking at you like, ‘I love this!’ And you can look back at them like, ‘I also love this!’ And it’s an infinite cycle.
Over the course of an hour Friday on the T-Mobile main stage, indie rockers Glass Animals performed on the south end of Grant Park, beginning their set with Life Itself from their 2016 album How to be a Human Being.
What a beautiful day! This is amazing! said singer Dave Bayley. Y’all doin’ alright? What a view, he continued, looking north across Grant Park at one of the most unique festival settings in America, the Chicago skyline looming in the background.
On a stage which featured a basketball hoop, images of Pac-Man ran behind the band on a video screen as they developed the sunny, bouncy beat of Tangerine.
I came here in 2006 when I was in high school and it was actually my first festival I ever went to. So this is a very full circle moment for me, said electronic artist Maddy O’Neal, making her Lollapalooza debut as an artist during a 45 minute set on the SolanaSOL -4.9% X Perry’s stage. Daft Punk had the pyramid stage. Pearl Jam was there. It was a good one – except for my car breaking down on the way there.
O’Neal, who will drop the single Change of Pace next month ahead of the album Ricochet in September, moves deftly between live instrumentation like drum pads to electronic elements, telling a story while making each memorable set unique.
I love to throw in good remixes – especially if I’m playing for new people. You kind of have to draw them in a little bit, explained O’Neal of her festival approach. I play mostly my own music. So it’s a nice way to sprinkle things in if somebody has never seen me before. It’s really fun to be able to break down my own songs. That’s why I use MIDI controllers and Ableton rather than DJing when I do that – because I can extract bits and pieces of my own songs and kind of do it on the fly or switch it up, do little vocal one shots here and there. It’s just more interactive, you know?
For many electronic artists, the challenge heading into a festival lies in how to ensure the energy of an intimate, jampacked club banger translates to the massive outdoor stage.
If I’m playing a club, I kind of leave out the big energy tracks, the big room energy edits I’ve made, explained Powell Aguirre one day before a Lolla performance in his guise as Surf Mesa. I’m playing a lot of disco stuff at the aftershow versus the Lolla set, where it’s a performance: it’s very animated and theatrical. Theatrical in the sense that it’s very impactful. There’s moments that are transitional with space for me to talk on the mic. In the club environment, there’s kind of an ongoing beat and not a lot of space. At Lolla, there’s push and pull.
During the early pandemic quarantine of 2020, Surf Mesa’s ily (i love you baby) went viral on Tik Tok. The song has now been streamed nearly 800 million times on Spotify while the electronic artist has racked up over 3 billion streams worldwide, proving what a vital revenue stream Tik Tok has become – at least for now.
When you look at labels now, their whole guerilla marketing plan has shifted completely. They’re telling artists to tell their fans to pre-save through Tik Tok. Everything is leaking a song intentionally so that commenters can flood the section saying, ‘Release this! Release this!’ It’s shifted everything, he explained. I think it’s hard for people to adapt and it’s hard for people to grasp that that might be the concept for now. Because that’s all labels want right now – for people to get as many fans as they can on Tik Tok to pre-save their new track.
Friday night in Chicago, fans were torn, choosing between headlining sets by Machine Gun Kelly and Dua Lipa taking place simultaneously on the festival’s two main stages.
Lollapalooza! You ready to go to the moon? asked Dua Lipa on stage Friday. I said are you ready to go to the moon?! Following a performance of Cold Heart, her recent collaboration with Elton John, Dua Lipa and her band, flanked by a bevy of dancers, worked up Future Nostalgia in front of the weekend’s biggest crowd so far, moving into Levitating as her set neared its final moments.
Lollapolooza weekend is the perfect backdrop for bringing together my love of music and fashion with my PUMAUMA +1.4% family, said Dua Lipa Thursday down the street from the festival on Michigan Avenue at THE FLUTUR EXPERIENCE, an immersive pop-up curated by footwear and apparel manufacturer PUMA and Dua Lipa. THE FLUTUR EXPERIENCE pop up is entirely interactive and was inspired by metamorphosis and embracing self-expression, she explained of the activation, from where fans have been posting photos to social media throughout the weekend. I’m so looking forward to seeing all the photos and videos exploring the space!
2, 3, 4! screamed Machine Gun Kelly, channeling the punk rock furor of The Ramones as he counted in maybe, kicking off an energetic and highly entertaining 90 minute set.
Friday night at Lollapalooza, MGK tore through a performance which drew upon each facet of his career, ably maneuvering between pop punk, rap and more thanks to the strength of a terrific four piece backing band.
Hello, Lollapalooza! We are Machine Gun Kelly and we’e been waiting for this moment for a long time! said Kelly, a throbbing live bass line opening god save me.
Kelly danced from high atop an amp before making his way down from the stage, running out through the crowd to the soundboard, climbing the rigging to deliver drug dealer from atop the roof, relishing the spotlight from high above the Lolla throng.
Kelly’s set Friday night was a star-studded affair, welcoming guests like rapper Iann Dior, singer/producer Glaive and pop punk princess Avril Lavigne.
What’s up, Lollapalooza! said Lavigne, the duo tearing through a searing take on her Bois Lie.
Kelly questioned the power of the internet, advising fans not to let it control their destiny, reaching out to those in need during uncertain times.
Does anyone else out there ever feel lost? he asked on stage at Lollapalooza. Whoever feels lost, just press play. I’m always here.