Photos: Arcade Fire, Charli XCX Win Lollapalooza Day 4 & Lil Yachty Brings Huge Horde
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 7, 2017 3:38PM
Let's be honest here, by the fourth day of Lollapalooza, everyone is feeling a little beaten down. So I couldn't shake the feeling that on Sunday many folks were just rallying for one last hurrah, getting their last couple hours of partying in before the circus leaves town and they return to their regular, less action-packed, offices and classrooms and homes when the clock strikes 10 p.m. (or 10:15 p.m., since that seems to be the new unofficial end time for some headlining sets). Sunday may have been a bit of an uneven ride musically, but the final headliners made certain that Lollaplaooza finished on a high note. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
I’ll dare say that I forget how good Arcade Fire is. There are bands that you tend to take for granted after being so consistently solid, but at some point—maybe a long break between albums, or simply the passage of time—you return with appreciation. Arcade Fire’s hour-and-a-half-plus headlining set took us on a journey of the band’s illustrious career, spanning 14 years and five albums, from early days (when the band played the first revived Lollapalooza) to this year’s disco-pop-laden album, Everything Now. It was interesting to hear the band’s progression when the expertly arranged songs played side by side. Singer Win Butler and wife Régine Chassagne led the multi-instrumental crew (seriously, is there any instrument on the stage that she didn’t play?) through earlier indie favorites like “Rebellion (Lies)” and “No Cars Go” into gleaming newer tracks, like “Electric Blue” and “Reflektor.” The energy never let up, from the symphonic opening notes of “Everything Now” to the hum-along epic ohs of “Wake Up” mixed with a cover of John Lennon's “Mind Games,” and just a little bit of tasteful political banter, centered on loving one another. — Michelle Mewyes Kopeny
Aside form the headliners, Lil Yachty had the biggest crowd of the day. Why organizers booked the set of the wildly popular rapper on the stage in the Petrillo Bandshell area is a complete mystery. Just getting to Butler Field was a near-impossibility as walls of fans clogged the fields and spilled into the surrounding paths. I finally edged my way to a spot with a sightline of the crowd—only because kids had torn down the screening on the fence that surrounded a VIP area, so they could get a look—and took in the chaos. Throngs of people occupied every square available inch, and many were climbing light poles and any structure they could find, creating what seemed like a rather dangerous situation. It was pretty intense, and for the first 20 minutes it honestly felt like anything could happen. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the whole experience is just how pedestrian and boring Lil Yachty's actual set was. For such a colorful personal-brand ambassador, who seems intent on separating himself from the Soundcloud pack, Yachty's show was pretty by-the-numbers, with lots of boasting, exhortations, start-and-stop songs ... it was all pretty boring. But hey, Yachty doesn't care what I think, it's obvious his fans love him. I'll just never know why. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
One of the great pop auteurs of the last decade, Charli XCX has amassed an imposing number of earworm hits and should-be-smashes, all of which deliver an affirming kind of cheeky insouciance. Her afternoon set was brimming with those highlights, including “Break the Rules,” the brand-new “Boys,” the impossibly catchy “3am (Pull Up),” her breakthrough “Boom Clap” and Icona Pop’s XCX-penned “I Don’t Care.” Amid it all, two cameos stood out. First, Halsey stepped out for a romp through the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” (the second time we heard it at Lollapalooza this year). Then it was the walk-on for which we had our fingers crossed, with Chicago’s own progressively lewd CupcakKe stepping out for the pair’s “Lipgloss” and her own track “CPR.” The mood at Lolla can often feel pretty hetero-aggro—which made the queer icon’s cameo all the better. For my money, the best moment of the day.— Stephen Gossett
Charli and Halsey on 'Wannabe' pic.twitter.com/AVxqugNdIz— Stephen Gossett (@gossettrag) August 7, 2017
From one standout female pop star immediately to another, right across the field. Tove Lo is perfect on paper: a Swedish-pop impresario and a sex-positive exhibitionist who revels in lived-experience candor. But there was something about the production on her last record that we thought muddied the vision a bit—a problem that was absent on Sunday before her electronic-organic supporting crew. The warm crowd got all the favorite cuts—“Moments,” “Cool Girl,” “Stay High,” “Talking Body”—except the great “Timebomb.” Bold in bare feet, a fishnet bodysuit and athletic pants (with album title “Lady Wood” emblazoned on the rear), Lo, as usual, also once again reclaimed the festival boob flash as feminist act.— Stephen Gossett
As we mentioned on going in, French-house duo Justice, who broke through around 2007, seems both of and outside the electronic-music zeitgeist: there’s plenty of proto-EDM arena-rock bombast, but shot through with record-collector-approved influences, from electro disco to Italian prog to John Carpenter analog synth-ery. But their standout headlining set proved that their math adds up to more than “big” + “cool.” They might tease and delay their stickiest, most-well-known pop hooks (“D.A.N.C.E.,” “DVNO”), or build to their do-I-dance-or-head-bang-or-both catharsis from a single, nagging synth tone. And their light-show spectacle is a dramatic slow build, too, favoring monochrome beams rather than the fire-spewing Technicolor rig common to festival dance music. All together, a blast.
When I first saw Grouplove play Lollapalooza in 2011, they came across as a super fun cult, along the lines of Polyphonic Spree, that wanted everyone to join their religion of the eternal good time. Six years later, that call has been answered by a massive fanbase, and their third appearance at the fest was a non-stop party. They've turned down the "hippy weirdo" vibe and amped up the glitz, polishing their live performance into something akin to Haight-Ashbury gone glam. For the uninitiated, their aesthetic is like the soundtrack to the adult version of a psychedelic kids show—if the Teletubbies grew up and formed a band this might be it. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
The Shins defined a very specific moment in indie history going mainstream. They exploded in popularity after appearing on the Garden State soundtrack in 2004 and recently released an upbeat new single after five years dormant that gave us hope that the band was moving into cheerier territory. While their afternoon set had it’s moments—like a Funky Cold Medina riff declaring “we’re allowed to have fun!”—the mood dragged mid-set. Things ended on a high note however, if you stuck around long enough to hear it, as they closed with crowd pleasers “New Slang” and “Sleeping Lessons” plus a lively cover of Tom Petty's “American Girl”. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
With Big Sean succumbing to full-on motivational speaker mode, we sauntered over to ‘90s-throwback festival-circuit regular Joey Bada$$ for a change of pace. Even if you have formalist quibbles with the rapper '90s Golden Age-style throwback approach, if was refreshing to see a performer not shy away from politics, including racial politics. At a festival lousy with white doing ironic dances to hip-hop, like mini Katy Perrys with Migos, Bada$$’ “f**k white supremacy” sentiment ("Amerikkkan Idol") needed expressing. Hopefully it gets internalized.— Stephen Gossett
Quiet, anguished bedroom R&B is a tough sell in a festival afternoon setting, even for a Drake associate offering refuge from the concurrent Lil Yachty madness. But Sampha did an admirable job of connecting, given the rather inhospitable environment. His backing band froze dramatic and statuesque during solo keyboard versions of “Too Much” and “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano;” and they were formidable in particular on the clave-block-rockin’ final cuts. And what can feel a bit snoozy on record felt here like respite.— Stephen Gossett
A well-known Lolla secret used to be that when “Special Guest” appeared on the Kidzapalooza schedule, that meant that festival founder Perry Farrell was going to come sing a couple of Jane’s Addiction and Porno For Pyros songs. Well, those days seem to be gone as we waited for the 15-minute time slot to begin with a few other groups of photographers and old folks sans kids, and Lady Pils took the stage instead. I suppose it should come as no surprise after the interview Farrell did with the Trib last year, that Perry was seen a lot less at the festival this year, outside of a couple brief sightings. (The only musical appearance he made was offsite at The Metro with Foo Fighters.) — Michelle Meywes Kopeny
I applaud Car Seat Headrest for landing a string of festival gigs, since I'm a fan of the band and think they more than deserve the exposure. Unfortunately I'm not sure that sunny lawns are the best venue for new fans to fall in love with their sound. Their set was high on energy, and the songs are great, but this is a band that does better inside. Across the park, Maggie Rogers also tried to connect with a crowd outside her element. She was visually striking in a red suit with long metallic silver fringe, making her look like some sort of space cowboy, and her music was burnished by polished pop production intent on propelling her songs to greater heights. Funny enough, her songs would work equally well as solo piano power ballads, so while the production amps up the bass, the drama she's searching for is already at the core of her songwriting. So that kinda drives a disconnect between music and presentation, and makes Rogers appear as if she's overextending at times. Her excitement is contagious though, and her winning vibe makes me more curious to dig into her discography. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Random Sunday Tankboy observations:
David Bowie made a couple of virtual appearances today. First, Grouplove fit a large chunk of "Space Oddity" into their own "Tongue Tied." Then Arcade Fire's Win Butler introduced "The Suburbs" saying, ""Every time we play this song it makes me think of David Bowie and he's missed ... we met him before we met you ... we're here because of him." And their "Mind Games" cover also included an except of Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things" that was quite touching.
It only took four days but I finally found the LCD Soundsystem Ice Cream Truck outside the grounds on my way to the festival today.
That wail you heard at the end of the night was a mixture of despair and excitement as the alert hit everyone's phones thanking everyone for attending the fest and that it would be back for another four days from Aug. 2 to 5, 2018. And if you are swimming in cash, you can lock in VIP tickets for next year at this year's prices. Though, after this weekend, who has any cash? We're all broke from buying High Brew coffee, Chow Town sandwiches, and as many concert t-shirts as we could carry.
This was my 18th Lollapalooza. Can you believe that?!