Photos: Chance The Rapper Reunites With Vic Mensa, Toasts Chicago Before Colossal Crowd At Lollapalooza Day 3
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 6, 2017 3:00PM
Saturday at Lollapalooza finally gave us the summer weather we've been craving, no rain or temperature drops were in sight. The day was also abuzz with anticipation for a prominent Chicagoan's return to the Lollapalooza stage, this time as a headliner, Chance the Rapper. So let's skip straight to Chancellor Johnathan Bennett's headlining set as we recap the day's events. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Chance was ushered in by a video montage of news clips tracking his swift rise, featuring testimonials from famous fans like Michelle Obama and Ellen Degeneres. As if Chance needed an introduction. The south side of the park had been steadily filling for an hour before showtime and was filled to its borders—easily one of the largest crowds I've ever seen assembled for a single act at Lollapalooza in Grant Park. Though I initially worried about a crowd of this size having the potential for trouble, once Chance came out to fireworks and the sounds of "Mixtape," those concerns evaporated as a jubilant vibe took over and people came together to celebrate the young rapper from Chatham.
Chance told the crowd early on that he didn't allow a live stream of the show, saying this wasn't a moment for the world, it was a moment for the city he loves and it's fans. "I want this to be me. And Chicago."
Chance's set was packed with the hits, and he was backed by the Social Experiment, a longtime cadre of friends including producer and keyboardist Peter Cottontale and trumpeter Nico Segel. He spooled out favorites from his own catalog and high-profile collaborations—including his work with another Chicago guy, Kanye West, and even pulled out the Social Experiment's Surf material ("Sunday Candy"), which kicked the vibe up from spiritual revival to block-party dance-a-thon. Even I was dancing, and I don't dance at festivals.
Chance's between-song statements sometime seemed to get larger cheers and applause than anything else. He detailed his appreciation for Chicago and its fans, saying they've stuck with him even as he forged new paths that bucked industry convention, "Chicago. Can I just take a second to say thank you?" Is he referring to his unconventional approach to releasing music without a label? His changing sound from afternoon party jams to gospel-tinged meditations on spirituality? It's unclear, but people seem thrilled with getting a "thank you" shout-out nonetheless.
But the biggest cheer came when Chance said, "Put pressure on your politicians to put you first." Was the crowd simply saluting the noble sentiment, or truly embracing his call to use active political involvement to make a difference? I couldn't tell but hope it was the latter. "Come at me, Rahm," he added, taking a quick dig at the mayor.
The show was light on guest stars, but the appearances seemed thoughtful and judicious—especially when he brought out Vic Mensa for "Cocoa Butter Kisses," putting a public end to the pair's long-rumored animosity. Fake Shore Drive got some great video.
Later, Francis Farewell Starlite also took the stage with Chance, to perform his hit "May I Have This Dance," finishing with a dual choreographed dance routine filled with panache and style.
Chance gave Chicago and the crowd a show filled with joy, fireworks and callbacks to his history with the city—including shoutouts to Noname, Saba, Harold Washington Library and the Bud Billiken Parade. There were pacing issues throughout, with pauses between songs that halted momentum, but I don't think the point of his performance was to present a flawless stadium spectacle. I think it was always meant to be Chance, his fans, a little discussion, and a whole lot of dancing. This wasn't about the world, it was about the moment. And what a moment it was. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
The site of so many bad decisions and questionable dance moves. But hey, it's for the kids! Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Atlanta trap star 21 Savage treated his massive, Perry’s Stage crowd (really, the enormity made it felt like a headlining slot) to a set dominated by a mix of older mixtape favorites ("Dip Dip," "Red Opps") and last year’s Metro Boomin collab, Savage Mode—no surprise; theirs is a perfect pairing. Still, it would’ve been interesting to see the Saint Laurent Don dip more into new cuts like “Close My Eyes” and “Numb,” which complicate the cutthroat persona—especially when the rowdy setting moved him a bit to the side of his signature steely, Teflon deadpan. “Bank Account,” though, closed it with a wallop, after which almost the entire mass of kids darted west, Chance-ward. — Stephen Gossett
EDM still leaves a sizable footprint on Lolla, and nowhere was that more apparent than at Kaskade’s headlining slot. The mega-DJ was scheduled head-to-head against Chance’s hometown blowout appearance, and he managed to fully stuff the adjacent field with fans. Of course, Kaskade is a Chicago native too, and he also throws some interesting zigs into the progressive-house playbook, avoiding bro-y drops on favorites like “Eyes” and trance-y anthem “Last Chance.” Coupled with sensory-overload visuals, it made for a lot of sweaty CamelBak’ers.— Stephen Gossett
Aminé’s debut album has been out all of one week, but the ascendant Portland rapper on Friday afternoon had already outgrown the small, side stage—which was packed to the brim with amped, tree-scaling youth. Aminé (still best known for his viral novelty-ish hit, “Caroline”) unapologetically wears his Andre 3000 influence on his sleeve, but the debt falls away nicely live, whether he’s covering Frank Ocean or punctuating “Spice Girl” by blasting the song’s namesake girl group (“Wannabe,” in particular). Even Malia Obama would agree. See?
Banks delivered her set on a minimal stage, flanked by two shrouded dancers who struck odd and curiously angular poses. It fit her quietly weird art-pop aesthetic, but she could have used a little more on the spectacle side. Ultimately the show felt more performative than emotional, and that caused a disconnect, never really allowing the audience to engage more deeply. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Royal Blood play it smart by keeping the riffs taught and the drums simple. The result thunders by allowing space in the sound, so each stroke Mike Kerr hits on his guitar feels like a sledgehammer. And Kerr keeps his vocals accessible, injecting a dose of pop into the ruckus, providing the cotton candy that holds it all together. Their afternoon set was a walloping good time. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Saturday's weather was on point. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
The calendar reads 2017, which means the last embers of Mumford-ian yelping folk were stamped out years ago or so we thought. Slightly less demonstrative than, say, vintage Lumineers, but still rife with the same unwavering 4/4 kick-drums and acoustic sentimentalism, Aussie Vance Joy nevertheless packed the north field. His cloying ukulele-assisted cover of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me All” (spiked with OMI’s “Cheerleader”), followed by his own twee-folk juggernaut “Riptide,” in particular managed to strike a chord with the big crowd. The year 2012 has a long, bizarre tail. On the other hand
We’ve been testing the limits of ‘90s nostalgia, and with the Live reunion, we’ve burst them. At the low-attended set, bellower Ed Kowalczyk and the grunge-lite crew still exhibited the same messianic portentousness—that generic, alt-rock cover of Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line,” oh brother—while simultaneously veering apolitical. (Kowalczyk: “Who’s sick and f**kin’ tired of watching the news?“) Neither the old hits (“All Over Me,” “Lightning Crashes”) nor a well-meaning Soundgarden cover/tribute could salvage it. Sometimes we almost get the feeling Lollapalooza might be overextended.— Stephen Gossett
Random Saturday Tankboy observations:
I stopped by the Lollapalooza roller-skating rink, and if you haven't checked it out yet, it's a must-see. Is it ridiculous that a major music festival has a full-blown rink? Of course it is. But people are having such a good time there it's a welcome respite from the general chaos in every other corner of the park.
Saturday is generally a sh*tshow in the "kids overdoing it a little too early" category, but this year it seemed more subdued. Is it because people are looking out for each other? Do none of the day's headliners really attract a hard-charging "let's get wasted" crowd? I'm not saying there weren't a ton of wasted people throughout the day, they just seemed to be a little more polite in their incapacitated state than usual by this time of the weekend. Whatever the reason, I hope it's a trend.
What was up with Chance bringing a firehose onstage and spraying it over the crowd with the help of the CFD? I mean, it looked fun but I admit I missed the point. If there's an inside joke there, let me in.
Is there no longer a curfew penalty at Lollapalooza? Every headlining act so far has blown past the 10 p.m. cutoff time. Or is Rahm Emanuel just cool with the fest breaking it, figuring the city could use the cash a fine for breaking the curfew should technically generate?
If you need a moment of zen relaxation, head over to the area just south of Butler Field and visit the slowly inflating and deflating Lollapalooza garbage monster. Trust me, it's positively meditative.