RECAP: Lollapalooza 2018, Day One
Even in the hours leading up to the gates opening, thousands of music fans lined Michigan Avenue waiting to get into Grant Park to kick off Lollapalooza 2018. It may have only been noon on a Thursday, but Chicago was ready to get the biggest party of their summer underway. Here’s some of the highlights from Thursday at Lollapalooza:
The day started off with rising star and Chicago local Valee on the American Eagle Stage. A sizeable crowd for early in the first day of the festival gathered around in full force for his set, which featured breakout single “Miami” early. With a limited amount of material, the song reappeared to close out the set as well, following current hit, “Womp Womp”. While the crowd was feeling it to begin the show, they quickly simmered down before the two-pack of hits brought them back to life.
By about 3:30, the Perry’s stage, which caters to producers and EDM acts, was in full party mode when London On Da Track was set to perform. London is behind many of your favorite hip hop songs from the last couple of years, and a strong, youthful crowd eagerly rushed over to hear tracks like Soulja Boy’s “Rockstar” and Kodak Black’s “Roll In Peace”. There were also moments in his DJ set to pay tribute to Avicii and XXXTentacion, as well as to inform the crowd that Kodak Black is set to be released from jail in two weeks. London knew how to keep the crowds attention span, packing as many short spurts of songs as he could into his set.
If you wanted to know who the current king of Chicago hip hop is (besides Chance The Rapper), it seemed like anything G Herbo did on Thursday turned to gold. An afternoon slot on the American Eagle stage saw a crowd worthy of one of the main stages, with fans coming out in droves, climbing trees, cement walls, and anything they could possibly get on top of to get a glimpse of the hometown artist. With the recently released “Swervo” album getting into the set, it was clear who was the hot artist of the moment, and Chicago came out in full force to back their hometown boy.
By the time Franz Ferdinand had hit the Grant Park stage, one of the two main stages, the crowd was not ailing from the day’s heat. The band put on a set that varied between their latest, “Always Ascending” and their previous albums, maintaining a certain level of cool that they’ve always had about their music. Frontman Alex Kapranos pronounced “Chicago” with a tone that was part Scottish accent, part lounge singer, and later dedicated their biggest hit, “Take Me Out” to the Windy City. They closed their set with “This Fire” from their debut album, and had all the energy of 2004 once again.
A short while later on the same stage, Chvrches showed why they’re in their best element playing big festivals. For starters, their sound is catered to big setups, with spacy, electronic elements that sound crisp and clean coming through a massive sound system. Lead singer Lauren Mayberry also has a knack for winning over audiences, between her stage presence and delightful banter, with quips like informing the crowd that she got into music so that she could appear taller by always being on stage. A cool Lollapalooza moment happened within their set as well; as Matt Berninger of The National came out to perform recent single and collaboration, “My Enemy” with the band. It was a stellar set from start to finish, and clarification that Chvrches can play the biggest of stages with ease.
Another big hip hop crowd swarmed the American Eagle Stage as the day wore on, catching much of Brooklyn artist A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie‘s set. While he kept the crowd hyped up with hits from his “International Artist” EP, and the quick flurry of bangers that he managed to put out within the last year, there was a mass exodus that began around 8:15, roughly halfway through A Boogie’s set. That was no fault of his, however, as the crowd began flocking to the main stages, many likely to get a good spot for Travis Scott at 8:45 on the nearby Bud Light stage. However, remember when I said that G Herbo could do no wrong on Thursday? As soon as he was brought out to perform with A Boogie, flocks of kids began rushing back to the stage.
The main event of the night if you were even remotely a hip hop fan, though, was Travis Scott on the Bud Light Stage, which he treated in many ways as a celebration of his eagerly anticipated “Astroworld” album, which was dropping at 11:00 local time, an hour after his set. Scott appeared larger than life, and in many ways, was on Thursday. Complete with a set that featured a rising DJ booth all the way to the top of the Bud Light Stage, he showed why he has become notorious for his energetic live shows. There were some delays, though, including an extended break led by Scott to get an injured person out of a mosh pit at the front of the stage, a fan who was insistent that he could leap from the stage to the crowd without harm, which Scott advised against, and later a marriage proposal by another stage crasher that was unplanned from Travis and crew, which made for a lengthy delay for the fan’s fiance to get to the stage. Fans also climbed lighting poles towards the back of the crowd, sitting on parts of the infrastructure that were definitely not made to hold human weight, but that didn’t deter from the show. The delays were almost necessary though, for if the crowd got any more rowdy, there might have been a lot more to write about from Thursday night.