Lollapalooza 2015 had all the elements that make for a memorable music festival: Legends doing what they do best (Paul McCartney, Metallica), headliners moving the crowd with the emotion of the moment (Florence + the Machine), inspired sets from rising stars (Tame Impala), and surprise collabs (Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard duetting with Sir Paul, Halsey and Twenty One Pilots' Josh Dun performing together).
Even the Chicago weather managed to get on the bill with a brief evacuation on Sunday afternoon. There were many different ways to enjoy it all, but these were nine of the best performances Lolla had to offer.
Shortened set due to time constraints? Speakers lowered due to intense winds? There wasn't anything TV on the Radio could do about it except deliver, and deliver they did.
The best bands don't approach their sets with an agenda like the usual "let's work the new album." Rather, TV on the Radio's approach was "if it's gonna rain, let's let it fuckin’ pour." Despite all the warnings, we never did actually get wet, but the band brought the proverbial house down with a high-impact set that was easily one of the weekend's best.
Tiny stage? Set time shuffled? No problem! Twenty-year-old Halsey had a phalanx of fans chanting her name for five minutes before she stepped out there on the BMI stage and gave it all she had through a selection of tunes that connected with brains and hips (especially Badlands fave-to-be “Hold Me Down”). The next level moment? Josh Dun of Twenty One Pilots sitting in on drums for a song. Every phone in the place attempted to capture that moment.
Major bonus points go to any festival performer whose genuine joy and energy you can feel from anywhere in the crowd. Lollapalooza 2015 was certainly not Kid Cudi’s first or even second or even third Lolla, but he was so geeked to be there and delivered such an so on-point show that fans could feel it from the front (which he visited many times in a marathon sprint all along the barricade) all the way to the back hundreds of yards away. Proof Cudi's vibes were contagious? The crowd was dancing and rapping along during the entire set.
When a band is only three albums deep and doesn't even have enough time in a festival-length afternoon set to play anything from their debut, it's a sign of big things to come. Tame Impala is one such group knocking on the door of greatness.
Without the cover of darkness to maximize the effect of their trippy visuals, the strength of Tame Impala’s songs and the depth of their sound still hit the festival grounds square in the chest with the caliber of set that only one of the world's best rock bands can deliver. This band is scary good.
Twigs at Lollapalooza on Sunday was more than just a musical set: It was performance art in the best sense. Iconoclastic, beautiful dancing, eerie, emotional soprano vocals, and spare, genre-warping future-friendly beats? The best thing to do while the Englishwoman did her work up there on the Pepsi stage, was just watch very, very closely.
It’s not every day that a Beatle headlines Lollapalooza, and Sir Paul easily delighted multiple generations with a magical mystery tour through his half-century of legendary music on Friday night. Where to even begin with the highlights? The pyrotechnics and fireworks as he rocked his piano through Wings’ “Live And Let Die” were dazzling, the many Beatle tracks as well (“Eleanor Rigby” especially). But there were two moments everyone in that field won’t soon forget: The kickass “Get Back” duet he did with surprise guest Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes (who dueled him on guitar as well) and the stunning “Hey Jude” that seemed to have the whole park singing.
Brittany Howard got so enraptured during Alabama Shakes amazing Friday evening set on the Samsung stage that at one point she rocked the glasses clear off her face during one of her guitar solos. And she kept on coming with that righteous set of pipes even when the speakers cut out briefly. Mad? No way. When the sound returned a few minutes later, she was arm-raisingly proud that they'd hit it so well as to break the P.A. But that was even before they did “Gimme All Your Love,” during which the huge crowd immediately complied.
Due to an impending thunderstorm, Florence + the Machine ultimately only had an hour to headline Lollapalooza on Sunday night. Florence Welch took it as an opportunity to practically levitate the masses at the south end of the park into a state of mesmerized, rapt catharsis. Her gorgeous voice carried on the strengthening wind through treats like “Ship To Wreck” and “St. Jude.” The ultimate in-the-moment bit came right at the end of the abbreviated set: An ecstatic, barefoot (and suddenly shirtless) Florence ran full speed right into the arms of the crowd in just her bra, pants and nakedly beautiful vocals on “Dog Days Are Over.”