Lollapalooza 2014 saw the rise of the millennial stage.
Since 2006, Lollapalooza has represented the arrival of August’s first weekend in Chicago. It’s almost a landmark of sorts; a signal that summer is waning but an appropriate reminder that there’s still another month left.
Starting in 2008, I experienced that landmark for the first time – a final hurrah in Chicago before heading off to Champaign, IL for a little thing called college.
That initial foray into Grant Park told me everything I needed to know after seeing MGMT, Explosions in the Sky, Lupe Fiasco and Rage Against the Machine in the same day.
Following an unfortunate hiatus in 2009 and another Saturday-only experience in 2010, Lollapalooza officially became “The Best Weekend of the Year” in 2011 by way of my first three-day pass.
Over the course of seven years, it’s hard to say whether one year was better than another. It’s much easier to note the pronounced growth and changes in the time between that MGMT show and last night’s closing acts.
‘Lolla’ has built itself through the wide range of artists it provides during the three day extravaganze. By continually growing its reach into globally-accepted, niche genres, Lollapalooza has become home for anybody and everybody.
It’s established itself as the people’s festival – proving once again that demographics have no place in analyzing the success or failure of such an influential event.
That’s been especially true in the last few years, thanks to the development of two stages – The Grove and Perry’s.
The rise of The Grove has been one of the more noted changes in Lollapalooza’s growth, and the stage started having its own headliner act in 2011. Just east of Michigan Ave. on the west side of the park, the stage is surrounded by trees and has an intimate setting you won’t find anywhere else at the festival.
On Sunday, 22 year-old Australian producer Flume (above) took full advantage of that setting, putting on one of the better shows of the weekend in an hour set that felt like 20 minutes. He had control of the crowd for virtually the entire performance, and was clearly having a hell of a time doing it.
You might know him from his hit song “You & Me” with Disclosure, who not so ironically played at The Grove last year.
Following Flume and headlining The Grove on Sunday night was Darkside (right), a collaboration between DJ Nicolass Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington. Considering the duo released their debut album less than a year ago, headlining Lollapalooza is pretty impressive. And if you’re into Daft Punk, which you are, Darkside remixed their entire Random Access Memories album last June.
Kind of like a modern Pink Floyd, Harrington’s excellence with the guitar and Jaar’s obvious electronic talent meshed seamlessly. The sound was complemented by a light show that was definably trippy, and Darkside’s moniker proved accurate by playing predominantly in the dark with subtle lighting behind them.
Speaking of light shows, Jagwar Ma was rocking a nice one at The Grove on Friday, brightening up a rain-spotted afternoon with a catchy 45-minute set.
Other than The Grove, the Perry’s stage has best represented the growth and changes at Lollapalooza, and this past weekend showcased that again. English dance music group Above and Beyond performed at Perry’s on Friday evening, and they more than proved their spot in DJ Magazine’s Top 20 DJ’s in the world every year since 2009.
After seeing them at The Canopy Club in Urbana, IL two springs ago, it was cool to see the trance legends again on a bigger stage. And just like in 2012, the trio put on a show that was easy to listen to and even easier to dance to.
That was also the case during the early afternoon Saturday, when Duke Dumont (left) and Gramatik put on back-to-back gems at Perry’s.
The EDM-centric stage has gotten a better lineup each year, and the inclusion of Above and Beyond immediately stuck out when the 2014 artists were released. Like The Grove, Perry’s is the only other stage with a headliner outside the biggest two (Bud Light and Samsung Galaxy).
Of course, the growing presence of The Grove and Perry’s (and the artists it brings with) wouldn’t be anything without the other stages continuing to deliver.
That naturally includes the Samsung Galaxy stage on the south end of the park, where Portugal. The Man made their third appearance at Lollapalooza after shows in 2009 and 2011. As you would expect from a band invited back for a third time, ‘Portugal’ was beyond belief.
The foursome originally founded in Alaska is unlike anything ‘rock’ you’ve ever heard, using a wide variety of instruments to portray their unique sound design. Lead singer John Baldwin Gourley’s voice was matched only by his kick-ass Blackhawks hat, and they even covered the epic “Day Man” from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Three hours later on the same stage, international superstar Eminem made a Lollapalooza return following his 2011 performance. To be blunt, Mr. Mathers played a lot of songs that most people don’t know in the first 30 minutes.
Then Rihanna showed up.
Rihanna joined Eminem for their collaborations “Love The Way You Lie” and “The Monster” before taking Dido’s spot in “Stan” – easily a highlight of the show.
He followed that with marquee jams from the The Slim Shady LP all the way to Recovery; and the rap icon was well on his way to delivering a worthy performance.
Saturday evening at Samsung, Foster the People had one of the bigger crowds of the weekend, which makes sense considering their crazy popular brand of pop rock. Another return performer, Foster was just as much fun as they were in 2011 – the start to my first three day weekend.
On the other side of the park, headliner stage Bud Light had a couple memorable performances to note. Scottish DJ and visionary Calvin Harris had a fireworks-filled show to close things down Saturday night- playing everything from “Bounce” to “Summer.”
On Sunday afternoon, Chromeo (right) led a virtual dance party on the north end of Grant Park, headlined by their most recent jam “Jealous.”
As always, the biggest two stages delivered. Combined with the evolution of The Grove and Perry’s, Lollapalooza 2014 was a lineup to remember, and it’s best symbolized by the recent move to four headliners per night.
Accompanying the growing crowds each year, offering closing acts from four different genres not only shows that Lollapalooza has stayed true to its roots of musical variety – it shows just how far it has come.