Lollapalooza 2015 Day One: The Party Starts Earlier And Earlier

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 1, 2015 5:25PM

Weeks of work have finally coalesced into the form of a small, independent city in the middle of Grant Park as the 2015 edition of Lollapalooza takes root. We already told you what to expect and how to handle the weekend if you’re taking part in the festivities, and now it’s time to start sharing our daily recaps of all things wild and crazy happening in the park and the surrounding area. Because while Lollapalooza actually occurs on a few acres of public park land, its effects are felt all across the city. And this year, our coverage reaches back, days before the gates even opened to the park. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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MS MR played in a fan's house on Wednesday, photo by Ryan Lowry/Airbnb

Wednesday: We all knew Lollapalooza had become a massive event that takes over the city, but now it reaches far beyond the festival grounds, beginning earlier than ever. This year, festivities kicked off as early as Wednesday, with Airbnb hosting a private concert with Lolla band MS MR in one lucky winner's home in Lincoln Park. It was essentially a house party, complete with a backyard BBQ for 20 friends of the local host. The concert itself was surprisingly not awkward, with singer Lizzy Plapinger even commenting, "This isn't half as weird as I thought it was going to be," to the packed living room. The band played a 45 minute set, and there were jokes galore about the ridiculously intimate space. Max Hershenow, the MR of MS MR and an Airbnb host himself when he's out on tour, joked about leaving a review after the show. We're guessing it would basically say, "Most rocking host ever."—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

Thursday: There are more and more after-parties every year, too, and we're not just talking the extensive list of official aftershows. Hard Rock Hotel has long been a hot spot for post-fest partying, with rotating a cast of sponsors, exclusive concerts and surprise celebrity appearances and DJ sets. This year, Virgin Hotels and the Renaissance are just a couple of new places that have gotten in on the game. Long lines are notorious at these events, with tons of RSVPs for relatively small spaces, but we were lucky enough to attend the FLOODfest happy hour at the Virgin on Thursday afternoon. We got to see a brief set from the band Coasts, which was great since we missed their early time-slot at Lollapalooza proper on Friday. The UK rock band played their heartfelt single “Oceans,” and the drummer’s set up was intriguing for how sparse it was—he played only a single bass drum and helped out on vocals.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

Friday 2:20 p.m. The party starts long before we even get to Grant Park. Our Blue Line train is heavily populated by teenagers in sleeveless shirts and bandanas rolling blunts. One of them spent the whole trip crossing and uncrossing his legs, trying to get off at almost every stop because he has to go to the bathroom. This urgency is completely forgotten when he and his crew get off at Jackson and spontaneously start rapping with the dude busking on the platform. Party on, dudes. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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This guy was trying to find his girlfriend, we hope he did! Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

3 p.m. Tove Lo is hot. So hot actually that she takes off her shoes and then puts them back on “because I’m burning my feet off.” Really though, the Swede singer is a babe with hair blowing in the breeze as she jumps around the stage in a booming, high energy set. Early in the set she jumps into “Not On Drugs” and “Talking Body,” a couple of the songs she wrote with the help of juggernaut producer Max Martin. She lost a little steam in the middle with a couple of slow songs, but picked up again at the end with her hit, “Habits.” Maybe she should have saved that popular song for last, though, because the crowd quickly streamed away from the stage as she played her final song, “Time Bomb.”—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

Tove Lo has the crowd’s attention and while her set is unevenly paced the songs are undeniably catchy. She’s proven her mettle as part of Max Martin’s Wolf Cousins songwriting team. But on stage she still feels like she’s looking to find that “it” factor that gifts great songs with the charisma that turns them into massive hits. Despite that, the crowd is still really into what she’s delivering. Of course I can’t help but smile when she deliver the chorus “I’m not on drugs, I’m just in love,” since I’m pretty sure 95 percent of the crowd is not in love but definitely on drugs. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

3:29 p.m. Huh, I never realized the opening of Lo’s “Thousand Miles” is basically Aphex Twin’s “Girl / Boy Song.” Do you think he knows? —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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The kids are thirsty and this is the line for the water refilling station. Photo by Jim Kopeny / tankboy

3:52 p.m. Cold War Kids bang out their early hit “Hang Me Up To Dry.” Singer Nathan Willett looms over his piano and behaves as if he’s channeling the song from some other realm, the keys electrocuting him, fingers outward, and ripping the verses from frayed vocal chords. I usually find most of their music a little bland, but this is a moment that feels genuine, with the music fighting its way out of a parallel dimension to rip into ours. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

4:37 p.m. DJ Mustard is successfully making me feel ancient. Every kid in the crowd at Perry’s Stage knows every single lyric to every single song, and the crowd is losing their collective goddamn minds to his set. I admit I don’t “get it” but I am 100 percent digging it, because the energy is so pure it’s impossible not to get caught up in the euphoric wave coming off the crowd. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

4:40 p.m. I venture into Perry’s, the home of music for kids with zero attention span, as DJ Mustard plays five-second clips of popular '90s hip-hop songs one after another. I’m feeling really old when all the young fans in the crowd start singing along to every word of 2 Chainz’s “I’m Different,” a song I’m not sure I’ve even heard before this moment.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

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"Can you see me?" Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Of course, when 20,000 kids all sing “'I’m different” over and over again during DJ Mustard’s set in perfect unison, do they get that they’re really not, um, that different? —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

5:03 p.m. MS MR’s singer Lizzy Plapinger obviously grew up on Gwen Stefani videos because her entire stage demeanor is rooted in them. And her producing partner Max Hershenow totally raided Andrew W.K.’s wardrobe. But neither of these things get in the way of the duo, augmented by some touring musicians, from delivering a solid set. It’s much like most of the bands on the bill this year—there’s a dependability in their delivery that, while it might rarely reach the realm of truly inspirational, does at least provide a lovely soundtrack to the party that’s happening all around them. With a handful of exceptions, the bands really are just background entertainment, offering attendees a reason to be around each other and celebrate a lovely summer day. And when a festival this size sells out of most tickets before even announcing the line-up, this actually makes sense. Lollapalooza is about community—yes, a community heavily subsidized by corporations—and the good times will roll on, unimpeded. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

6 p.m. BØRNS is just as good live as I’d hoped. The crowd is way into Garrett Born and his ridiculously energetic backing band, and my fellow writer turns to me at one point and agrees the charismatic frontman blurs the lines between genders and comes from a distinctly otherworldly place. The crowd is dancing and it’s the first set we’ve actually seen VIPs spill out from behind the stage into the area in front. We snap a photo with some young kid and find out afterward he’s some kind of YouTube star. Everyone’s having a blast and for the first time today I feel like the music has actually taken center stage as a point of focus rather than an excuse to dance. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

6:03 p.m. BØRNS is capturing the attention of everyone at the BMI stage….wait, is that YouTube sensation Tyler and Connor next to the stage?! OK, I only know this because the teen girls going crazy along the fence told me who they were taking selfies with.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

6:04 p.m. Oh, so that’s who that was! —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

6:18 p.m. BØRNS closes out his set with the infectious upbeat single “Electric Love,” and the crowd is in a swaying, happy trance. Though as soon as he finishes and the BØRNS fans disperse, a crowd pushes toward the stage chanting for Young Thug, the next artist up on the BMI stage. Although I’d be curious to stick around and see what these people showed up a half hour early for, I’ve got to head on down to chow town.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

6:26 p.m. I’m pretty sure Perry's Stage has been playing the same goddamn song for the last 30 minutes, and it’s breaking through to every ear within a one mile radius. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

6:49 p.m. I took in Alabama Shakes’ set from a distance, grabbing some much needed shade from a stand of trees, but even if I had been stage center I think I would’ve still found their set unimpressive. Brittany Howard’s voice is truly a marvel, and her guitar work is unimpeachable, but the band’s songs still feel too deeply rooted in a rote rock ‘n’ blues formula to truly feel worthy of the frontwoman’s undeniable charisma. Alternately, Gary Clark, Jr., on stage now, is showing the crowd how you can take the tried and true tropes of the past and weave them into something that does feel fresh and new. Clark is a bit of a chameleon, bending genres and stirring them together into a unique stew, and he’s a master of his craft. Even from across the field the pull of his set keeps my ears tuned in. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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We think these are Sir Paul's trucks backstage. If so we envision one is for his bass, one is for him, and the other is for the rest of the band and all the stage gear. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

7:50 p.m. EVERYONE IS SO HAPPY. PAUL MCCARTNEY! You might think I’m exaggerating but I can attest that, outside of Daft Punk’s set in 2007 I have never seen so many people on the south end of Grant Park so delirious. There are zero bad vibes, and it’s packed with people but no one betrays even the slightest hint of the aggression such confined spaces usually carry. It’s truly remarkable. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

7:56 p.m. “This is so cool I gotta take a minute and drink it in for myself.” COME ON, PAUL. We all know that you are the legend and that we are lucky to be here. At 73-years-old, the guy is still touring like he has to and commanding a stage with hours-long sets full of Beatles hits, Wings songs, solo stuff, and even new material that is just as good as the old stuff, just maybe not as tied to pop culture. We are lucky to get what is essentially a full set from the Beatle, who has two hours and fifteen minutes blocked out on the Samsung stage, longer than any other headliner we can remember. He opens with “Magical Mystery Tour” after a short intro from his touring DJ, Chris Holmes.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

8:30 p.m. Paul told a lot of stories between songs, naming tunes for his current wife (“My Valentine”) and for those close to him who have passed, his former wife Linda (“Maybe I’m Amazed”) and of course John (Lennon), and even a guitar tribute to “the late great Jimi Hendrix” at the end of “Let Me Roll It.” But this story is about the song “Blackbird” and how he was influenced by the civil rights movement in the U.S. in the '60s. The sound bleeding from Perry’s stage was unfortunately very strong during such a quiet, touching song.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

8:40 p.m. The young fans losing their minds in front of us tell us about how they took a Beatles class in college (“A whole class!”) and how much they luuuve them. They look a little lost though when the Wings songs come on.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

I wish I could live in this moment forever. #macca #liveandletdie #lolla

A video posted by @shellster129 on


9:22 p.m. After seeing Paul at Wrigley Field four years ago (exactly today), this is the moment I’ve been waiting all night for: “Live and Let Die” and all of the fire. What starts as an unassuming piano ballad explodes into a ball of fire—literally—during the chorus and is punctuated by fireworks coming out of the top of the stage. Those in the crowd who didn’t know it was coming have a look of pure amazement on their faces.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

9:35 p.m. The encore begins and the band comes out waving U.S., Great Britain and Illinois flags—no Chicago flag to be seen though. They launch into the early Beatles hit “Can’t Buy Me Love” and the field starts to feel like a really drunk sock hop as fans dance around in delight.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

9:40 p.m. Paul is joined on stage by Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard for “Get Back.” She shreds on the guitar right next to Paul as they share the mic. Her beaming smile shows just how amazed she must feel to be sharing the spotlight with such a legend.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

9:48 p.m. If Manson stole “Helter Skelter” from The Beatles, and U2 stole it back from Manson, Paul is taking it back-back. How can a 73-year-old dude still tear a primal shriek out of his vocal chords and bang out a song that, outside of The Who's songs, was the loudest and most metal mainstream song of its time? Jeez. And then he follows it up with the one-two-three wave of beauty that is “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End” to close out the evening on one final, uplifting and euphoric note while making it seem like the most logical transition ever, despite the switch from the roar of "Helter Skelter" to the sigh of the final three song bundle. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

9:57 p.m. “We’d stay, but we can blame it on the curfew,” Paul says, as if he hadn’t given us a generous enough set. The whole night he somehow has managed to make this giant field feel like an intimate evening and that we all leave as friends. It’s all a testament to just how charismatic and likable he is.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

10:30 p.m. An era has ended and after ten years the BMF media Music Lounge party that used to take over multiple floors of the Hard Rock hotel both day and night has been winnowed down to a single afterparty in a different hotel a few blocks away. With the change also comes an absence of long lines and the partygoers seem happy to sip the free booze, but the vibe is decidedly mellow. Maybe it’s a sign of Lollapalooza growing up that some of the late night insanity that used to mark the scene seems to be abating? We decide to take advantage of the mellow finish and head home to get better rested for day two. We’ve got a full day that starts early in Grant Park and is sure to go late with a set from Bleachers at Culture Collide's "Chicago After Parties Series" at the Hard Rock late tonight, so wish us luck. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy