After making her Lollapalooza debut just two years ago, Ellie Goulding returned to Grant Park this year, and this time she booked the big stage. And she filled it.
The "Lights" singer packed the Bud Light stage area (an entire city block) during her 5pm set Saturday evening. The die-hards were, of course, up front, screaming along to every song, while the casual fans lay on the grass hundreds of feet away, singing along when they knew the words. "There's so many people, I never know what to expect when I come to these things," Ellie told the massive crowd. "So thank you so much," she said, tearing up at the sea of people in front of her.
In the last two years, a lot has changed for the English indie/electro-pop singer. At 2011's Lollapalooza, Ellie's most famous song, "Lights" was about to debut on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 85. It would be more than a year before it reached its highest position of No. 2. She and Skrillex wouldn't begin dating until six months later, and despite her Sound of 2010 BBC award, no one was sure if we'd ever hear from Goulding again.
Two years later, her sophomore album, Halcyon, released late 2012, has produced four hit singles and reached No. 2 on the U.K. albums chart. She's nabbed two BRIT Award nominations and joined Bruno Mars on his Moonshine Jungle World Tour. She also hooked up with Calvin Harris. (Well, at least in their video, "I Need Your Love," so that's still an upgrade in our book.)
As couples made out on the lawn and girls in fringe swayed along, Ellie serenaded the happy Chicago crowd during the perfect evening (75 and sunny) with Halcyon hits "Burn," "Explosions," "Figure 8" and "Anything Could Happen." Though the crowd favorite had to be her cover of Elton John's "Your Song," which she released as a single overseas and reached the top spot on the U.K. singles chart in 2010.
But it was her closer, "Lights," that had every last person on their feet singing along. One Chicago fan, Danny (who might have been lost and was definitely sunburned), turned to me and yelled, "You can't not be happy when you hear this song!" Turns out he's right.
See all the best photos from day 2 of Lollapalooza:
What kind of time warp?! '90s (and early 2000s) rock icons Fred Durst, Scott Weiland and Mark McGrath get photobombed by '70s icon Wayne Newton, aka Mr. Las Vegas. This should be all these guys' Christmas cards.