• Steven Mainzer

Lollapalooza Recap: August 1-August 4 , 2019


Most Infectious Energy: Saba

Photo Credits: Chicago Reader

Returning for his second career Lollapalooza set, Saba had an edge on his live slot considering the home crowd behind him. The west-side Chicago rapper came out to "Busy" and cruised through his 2018 critically acclaimed masterpiece Care For Me, in addition to his 2016 release Bucket List Project. One of the unexpected highlights was when Saba played a House remix of "Symmetry" and brought out Smino and other fellow Pivot Gang members for "How You Live" featuring MFnMelo, "Blood" off the Pivot Gang tape featuring Frsh Waters, and "Westsidebound Pt.3" featuring his brother, Joseph Chilliams. There was extra high energy from his deejay DAM DAM as well. His fallen cousin, John Walt's presence was felt as Saba also performed his key verse from "Prom/ KING."

Most Satisfying: The Strokes

Photo Credits: Rolling Stone

The Strokes came out with a vengeance as rock headliner outliers going through deep cuts off of their acclaimed albums Is This It, Modern Age, and Room on Fire. Albert Hammond Jr. was notably in the zone as he performed guitar solo and after solo during the set with the most memorable being his gut busting sequence during "Reptilia" (my personal favorite that I played to close my radio show as a high schooler.) The tracks “12:51” off Room On Fire and “You Only Live Once” off First Impressions of Earth were highlights as well. I left a tad early but word on the street was that they stayed for an encore and played "Last Night" to close things out with style to kick off Lollapalooza opening night.


Most Surprising: 21 Savage

The Atlanta, Zone Six emcee provided Lolla goers a nice surprise during his 5pm set on Friday. I was by far the most impressed with 21 out of any rapper on Friday and Saturday as I realized how many hits Savage has to this day (especially after a disappointing performance at Perry's in 2017). I was running over to the stage as I heard him say, "Y'all still f**k with that Savage Mode?" I got excited as The ATL rapper cruised through smash after smash playing, "No Heart", "No Advance, "X", and even a deeper cut off the album "Ocean Drive". He also brought out Childish Gambino to play their single "Monster" off 21's newest album, i am > i was. He also played some of the Metro Boomin tape Without Warning and ended with his smash records "Rockstar" and "Bank Account".

Most Satisfying: Death Cab For Cutie

Death Cab for Cutie was the most fulfilling full set I saw all of Friday. Ben Gibbard leading the way brought thy usual indie-pop-rock energy with his fellow bandmates behind him. I want to make it known that I was extremely upset that they did not play "Sound of Settling" off Translatlanticism, but they caught everyone in the crowd when they played "I Will Possess Your Heart" for the 8-10 minute journey of rocking out and the hardest bass line out there. My buddy who had no idea who Death Cab was before the show turned to me and goes, "What is the name of this song? I love this." My high school self was freaking out inside as "Soul Meets Body" and "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" were also well executed from the Seattle indie rockers. Potentially the highlight of the weekend was when Gibbard and co. brought out Chance The Rapper to perform his new hit "Do You Remember" off of Chance's newest album The Big Day. It seems like anytime Chance hops on the stage at Lollapalooza it's game over.

Biggest Regret: Splitting Tame Impala and Childish Gambino

My friend and I got food and ran back to Tame Impala to get close enough to see my friend's orange safety sausage, but the Tame pit was too packed to find them. Kevin Parker and the rest of the band were jammin' and the light show is as insane as it gets. Everyone had told me to see Tame live and now I fully understand why. A psychedelic dream --- patterns and strong, bright visuals flooding the big screens with Parker's smooth croon in the background. Tame went through their most acclaimed project (and most recent) from 2015, Currents. I think "Let it Happen" is now permanently stuck in my head for eternity. The hard bass line and fantastically placed synths make the record impossible to forget.

Photo Credits: Chicago Sun-Times

Another highlight from the set was "The Less I Know the Better" which got the crowd moving around and Parker showed no signs letting up with his vocals and did so with conviction hitting every echoed note. My friend and I left halfway through (for some dumb reason) and then I went to see a bunch of songs that I didn't recognize by Childish. I guess I didn't listen to enough of his new album. After seeing him taking selfies with fans and praise the Lolla crowd for being a 16/10, we went back to Tame where we heard them play "New Person, Same Old Mistakes" to close things out. I then learned that Rihanna reached out to Tame to use the sample as many believe that "Same Ol' Mistakes" off ANTI is Rihanna's original record. Put some respect on Tame's name (myself included)! I indeed felt like a brand new person after seeing Tame's set.


Most Comedic: Tenacious D

What could have been the most hilarious set I have ever seen, Tenacious D rocked out in front of a skimpy Bud Light crowd. All I can say was it was a lifelong dream of mine to see "Tribute" live and I saw it. And you best believe I sung every word to it with people surrounding me thinking I was insane. Jack Black and Kyle Gass maintain an immense amount of chemistry and they ran through skits in between songs like you would expect the comedic-rock duo to demonstrate. It was funny because people around me didn't even recognize Jack Black at first due to the gray beard, but he rocked the stage with his crafty guitar skills and wide range of high to low vocals. Other highlights were "Kickapoo" and "The Metal" from their best album The Pick of Destiny.

Most Surprising: Gunna

I had minimal expectations for Gunna as he was slated with a tough 7:30pm Saturday night set usually competing with many other acts, but needless to say he delivered. He went through most of Drip or Drown 2 as well as the first playing hits like, "One Call", "Richard Millie Plain," "3 Headed Snake" as well as one of my favorites "Speed it Up." I never seen so many hip dances coupled with a more fashion influenced crowd (no surprise considering Gunna's style). I have read before that the Atlanta emcee has solid crowd control and I noticed that with his ability to have the people bounce with him on every beat. I'm curious to see where Gunna is heading because he had that stage on lock. He ended with the Lil Baby featured "Sold Out Dates" which got the audience vibin' as well.

Most Athletic: Twenty One Pilots

The alternative hip hop duo from Columbus, OH had an extreme amount of energy as Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn jammed out at a packed T Mobile Stage. Packed with flashy visuals and quick pictures of the band's uprising, they hopped around going through Blurryface with arguably their most gigantic commercial hits in "Stressed Out" and "Ride" which had the crowd singing along with every word. It was pretty impressive when Dunn retrieved a miniature drum set and had members of the crowd hoist him on a plastic platform as he played drums while arguably risking the audiences' labrums. Tyler Joseph ran around the stage dancing, rapping and singing, with two of his better vocal performances coming from "My Blood" and "Chlorine" off of their 2018 album Trench.


Best mosh pit of the weekend: Denzel Curry

The Florida rapper Denzel Curry proved to be mosh pit king of Lollapalooza 2019. The high intensity emcee played through most of his new album ZU as well as his 2018 album TA1300. One highlight from the set was the bouncy "Speedboat" getting the audience going to Curry's 808s. My favorite track he played was one of his older records, "Knotty Head" from his 2016 Imperial. I ran into my two friends who had been in the moshes, as I was observing from farther away at a forested American Eagle Stage, and all of them looked semi homeless after being embedded in the first and second row pits. Arguably my favorite moment of the entire weekend was when Denzel Curry replicated a perfect cover of Rage Against The Machine's "Bulls on Parada" sounding idenntical to RATM frontman Zak De la Rocha.

Most disappointing: Francis and the Lights

Francis usually known for his oddly free-spirited antics on stage was just as out of it as usual but seemingly less effective. Aside from "Morning" and "Just For Us" off of his 2017 album titled the latter, I found it hard to follow along with Francis and enjoy the set. He had his vocals playing under him and seemed to miss singing along for the majority of the notes. It's always fun watching him zone out though.

Most impressive vocals: Ariana Grande

Ariana proved that she is indeed the current 'Queen of Pop.' I'm not going to lie I was excited to see her put her singing voice on display. Having a girlfriend very familiar with her thank u, next project I enjoyed her run through the critically acclaimed album including the likes of "break up with your girlfiend", "7 rings", "imagine" and "needy." Ariana's choreography with her back up dancers continued to remain on the point as you can tell this crew has seen numerous tours together. She played her newest single "Boyfriend" which got the females singing every word and also ended with the "thank u, next" banger that we all know and love. Miss Grande ended Lollapalooza with fireworks and we will remember 2019 as another year full of 17 year olds, glitter, camelbacks, and seemingly underwhelming headliners coupled with impressive mid-late day up and coming acts.

Key takeaways this year:

  • Lollapalooza continues to hurt themselves sticking to a 4 day format.

  • The headliners were underwhelming and would be more focused and less spread out if they returned back to a 3 day fest.

  • Make the tickets less expensive, so it's not just suburban teens who were gifted the experience from their parents in attendance.

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