Lollapalooza 2023: Day One Recap

Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana

Lollapalooza 2023 kicked off its first day at Grant Park in Chicago amidst sweltering heat, with thousands of concertgoers braving nearly 90-degree weather to enjoy a day filled with music, plenty of Instagram photos, and unforgettable performances.

Early on at the Coinbase stage, Australian indie rocker Dope Lemon drew a sizeable crowd. The band, known for their 2022 album “Rose Pink Cadillac,” brought their Americana-dipped sound to life under the scorching sun. Despite the heat, the band members donned Southwestern-inspired suits, adding a touch of style to their energetic performance.

Over at the Bud Light Stage, rising star Joy Oladokun charmed the crowd with her charisma and humbleness. Her ability to make one of the largest stages at the festival feel like an intimate storytellers session was truly special, and her performance was a highlight of the day. The songwriter and her band also have a cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” that hits surprisingly well, and was a big hit with the Chicago crowd.

The T-Mobile Stage was the source of mid-afternoon shrieks, thanks to a set from indie rockers Lovejoy. A large crowd gathered at the festival’s main stage, hinting at their potential for even bigger things in the near future.

The Bud Light Stage was once again the center of attention when pop duo Sofi Tukker took over. Their jungle gym set, complete with an array of backup dancers, turned the stage into a dance party. The crowd especially reacted to Aqua’s “Barbie Girl,” capitalizing on the recent Barbie movie craze. The duo’s scoreboard comparison showed Lollapalooza beating Summerfest, where they had performed just a few weeks prior (…is that thing rigged?)

Noah Kahan, performing at the Tito’s Vodka stage, had a mob of fans, indicating that his afternoon sets at Lollapalooza might soon be a thing of the past. His breakout record “Stick Season” seems to have catapulted him towards headliner status, and several superfans were seen around the grounds with homemade shirts professing their love to the Vermont-born singer.

Portugal. The Man delivered what might be an early contender for one of the best sets of Lollapalooza 2023. Their relentless 45-minute show was a non-stop musical barrage, with extended jams and almost no downtime in between songs. To put it in the words of intro video cameo Beavis and Butt-head, they ruled.

The never-ending party at Perry’s Stage was in full swing when producer Dom Dolla took the stage. The crowd was treated to a special moment when Nelly Furtado, who had previously collaborated with Dom Dolla, made a surprise appearance during his DJ set. The songstress was ready to party amidst the steam cannons and flames shooting from the stage, which only kicked the party into a higher gear.

The night, however, belonged to Billie Eilish. Taking the T-Mobile Stage to the squeals of a massive crowd and the thumping beat of “Bury A Friend.” Eilish showed all of the sides to her sound on Thursday, alongside brother and composer Phinneas as well as a live drummer. With a confident smirk and a throwback Michael Jordan jersey, she frequently made the most of the real estate provided by Lollapalooza, heading out into an extended catwalk to connect with the crowd. While at times it seemed like she might be struggling with some on-stage tech (a brief hot mic moment caught her yelling “I can’t” before the channel cut out,) Eilish was undeniably a star that knows how to work a crowd.

“It’s very simple. I just need you guys to give yourselves to me” she said mid-set. The festival crowd followed suit, jumping and singing loud with just about every track. She too would reference the Barbie movie, albeit by playing “What Was I Made For?,” her ballad contribution to the movie soundtrack. She would bring things down with acoustic versions of “I Love You,” “Your Power,” and “TV” before getting into her most successful material, but just about anything that she put into her set got a big response. In many ways it was more about her presence than the actual music, the mark of a true pop phenomenon. Breakout “Bad Guy” could have closed the set, but she instead opted for “Happier Than Ever,” complete with the loudest singalong of the night. No matter what she did, Grant Park was in the palm of her hand on Thursday, and she enjoyed the thought of never letting go.

Day one of Lollapalooza 2023 is in the books, and we’ll have daily coverage for you direct from Grant Park. Be sure to subscribe to our Patreon as well for exclusive interviews, and check in throughout the weekend for even more right here.

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