Photos: Lorde, Migos, Liam Gallagher & More Cut Short As Storms & Storm-Offs Hit Lollapalooza Day 1

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 4, 2017 2:00PM


The threat of storms hung over Lollapalooza all day Thursday, as frequent messages from the organizers pushed through the app warned there was "weather in the area" they were keeping an eye on. Aside from a few brief showers late in the afternoon, it seemed we were going to miss getting hit with anything major. We did know that surrounding areas got hit, since word of numerous flight delays possibly impacting artist sets throughout the day kept making way. That's what happened to Migos, who sadly played only about 30 minutes and never really hit a stride. But Grant Park itself seemed safe from any disruptive deluges. We couldn't have been more wrong.

Obviously the evening's biggest story was the truncated headlining sets and subsequent mass evacuation of Grant Park in the face of dangerous weather systems, but most of the day was less meteorological and more musical. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

The long-threatened weather had arrived ahead of Lorde’s headlining slot but only as a light, steady rain. And it let up seemingly on cue (if only momentarily, we’d soon know) as Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” shot through the speakers, setting the stage for something grand from the uncanny, young arty-pop star. And for about three songs, it was as transfixing as we’d hoped. After teasing “Green Light”—the truncated set’s only moment from this year’s Melodrama (or as she dubbed it, her “document of a young female witch”)—she glided from “Tennis Courts” to “Magnets” to “400 Lux.” Behind her, a modern-dance/theatrical routine—staged inside a massive, elevated glass box—lent an appropriate emotional-fishbowl effect. But it was the subsequent sight of Lorde’s stage producer that proved most impactful: Festival organizers had called for an evacuation as severe weather started to threaten; and it was all unceremoniously over some 50 minutes early. Lets hope her pledged effort for a makeup date materializes. — Stephen Gossett

Muse's crowd seemed smaller than the last time they headlined Lollapalooza, though the fans that were pushed near the front of the stage laid rest the notion that anyone would allow the steadily-growing downpour to extinguish their excitement. The band's stage design appeared plucked from an early '80s arcade game, and singer Matt Bellamy came onstage during the opening "Dig Down" sporting glowing neon sunglasses and a neon-fringed guitar. Muse has hit the point where they take live theatrics to a ridiculous level, so during the second song "Psycho," as the steady rain suddenly intensified just as the song hit it's first guitar break, I admit I looked up just to make sure the band didn't have a wind machine above us just to intensify the drama. I was just starting to get over the ridiculous visuals and allow the band's bombast to take me over as third song "Hysteria" exploded with a sonic boom, only to have the band abruptly leave the stage, Bellamy explaining they had been told there was dangerous weather in the area. And you know the rest. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Models of consistency as much as taut, minimalism, veteran Austin, TX indie rockers Spoon rolled along their non-reinvented wheel, again making a case for subtle sonic tweaking rather than sweeping stylistic overhauls. The set veered from new ("Do I Have to Talk You Into It?," "Hot Thoughts"), to newish ("Inside Out," "Do You") to classic ("Anything You Want," "My Mathematical Mind") and everything felt of a piece. As for singer Britt Daniels classic-rock-frontman gestures, your mileage may vary, although the crowd (not all graybeards!) seemed enveloped. They have mastered their brand of nervy rock, and it remained a treat to see it live. Even when, say, when the third act gets hit with steady showers.— Stephen Gossett

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Cage the Elephant's crowd and a reminder that Lolla, you sure can be pretty. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

The other dominant story on Thursday was Liam Gallagher's truncated set. It was eagerly anticipated, since the ex-Oasis frontman was making his Lollapalooza debut and rarely plays in the U.S. Ushered onto the stage by the instrumental "F***in' in the Bushes," then launching into the Oasis hits "Rock 'n' Roll Star" and "Morning Glory," Gallagher exuded old-school rock-star attitude, preening and snarling, and stalking about the stage. He seemed a little preoccupied with his monitors, going to the side of the stage a number of times to talk with a tech, but things were going well. His voice seemed a little rough at parts, unable to hit the high sneering notes of some earlier hits, but by "Wall of Glass" and "Greedy Soul," he was sounding great and the band was on fire.... until Gallagher suddenly left the stage. The band kept vamping until they realized he wasn't coming back and they wrapped up and left the stage too. And then the crew started breaking down Gallagher's gear and the crowd realized he wasn't coming back.

People were not pleased, and shouts of "You're a potato!" and "Noel is better!" weren't going to bring Liam back. Later in the day Gallagher said in a Tweet his voice was shredded from playing Park West the night before—the first time a show at Park West was so wild it shredded a singer's voice?—but maybe it would have been nice to tell the audience that as he left the stage. I still think it was a tantrum over technical sound issues, but I guess we'll have to take the man at his word. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

An earlier highlight of the day were Cage The Elephant's reliably chaotic set, which saw frontman Matthew Shultz spasming like a man channeling the electricity of the heavens through his body and out into the crowd. They've come a long way since I first say them at Subterranean with a handful of other people, and the venue staff there threatened to outnumber the attendees. If we were awarding points for exuberance and crowd response, Cage The Elephant would get all of them for Thursday. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

While Cage was rocking the big Grant Park stage, I opted to check out Australian dance-rock band Atlas Genius on the smaller up-and-comer BMI stage. This was a regrettable decision after seeing crowd-walking footage of Cage’s Matt Schultz during “Sabertooth Tiger,” but Atlas Genius still delivered a solid 30-minute set after taking the stage a few minutes late. They opened with bouncy dance track “If So” and had the modest crowd dancing and singing along. They managed to fit in a cover of Dead or Alive’s 80s hit "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" before closing with the first song they ever released, and the single that put them on the map, “Trojans.” — Michelle Meywes Kopeny

Temples delivered a solid collection of psychedelic pop, and continued to stun me with the natural wonder that is the halo of curls resting atop singer James Bagshaw's head. They were the first band of the afternoon to get fit by a little rain, but that didn't thin their audience one whit, as people stood entranced by the swirling guitar lines and transcendent tunes. A higher stet of consciousness indeed. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

I recommended that people see Hippo Campus under the misapprehension anyone would need to be told to see Hippo Campus. For a set so early in the afternoon, they had an astoundingly large and response crowd, jumping up and down and singing along to the band's optimistic dance rock with a slight psych edge. Their openly good vibes were a perfect segue from White Reaper's preceding set from across the field, which also exuded optimism but did so through the prism of focused intensity and '70s riffage. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy


Random Thursday Tankboy observations:

For a sold-out festival, crowds seemed light all around. It could have just been a Thursday thing, with people unable to make 4 days of the fest a priority over work or life in general.

Flushable toilets and temporary outdoor urinals are festival game changers. I'm not kidding. The additional urinals means bathroom lines for stalls are far more manageable than I've seen at any other festival, and a flushable toilet means there no human effluence sitting stagnant for hours on end. I admit I though the idea was silly on paper, but in person it really makes a huge difference.

When exactly did huge thigh and forearm tattoos as your first ink just out of high school or early in college become a thing? No judging here since I have plenty of visible ink, just seems like a trend right now for first pieces.

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A-Trak on Perry's Stage, photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Perry's Stage is still Perry's Stage, but even it seemed pretty subdued throughout the day. Which means I only felt mildly ancient there instead of absolutely ancient. Also, it took me numerous trips to that stage before I saw any actual DJing—thank you A-Trak! Bonus points to A-Trak for also being the only act on that stage I saw to get people dancing without resorting to someone constantly screaming, "Get dancing! Get wild! Let's go!" into a microphone. If the music isn't moving people without the direction of a hype person, maybe it's not the crowd that's at fault.

It could be me, but there seem to be less corporate installations on site this year. I can't tell if that because Lollapalooza is getting choosier about partners, or if the costs involved are growing too exorbitant. Or, maybe, Lolla is just finding less obtrusive ways to underwrite the weekend. Whatever the reason, it was nice to not feel constantly bombarded by marketing messaging.

So much smeared glitter and mascara during the evacuation. I'm surprised my boots don't look like they've been attacked by a BeDazzler this morning.


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