Lollapalooza 2016, the 25th year of the festival, is official in the books. Newly expanded to four days, dozens of acts played, but it was these ten -- bringing a combo of veteran Lolla muscle (Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers) and mutliple genres raw energy (Ellie Goulding, Tory Lanez) to Chicago's Grant Park -- that stood out as the biggest highlights.
It may have been the first Thursday night in modern Lollapalooza history, but J. Cole and his huge audience on the big Samsung stage lit it on fire like a Saturday night headliner, especially by the time he hit “No Role Modelz” and even people in line for the porta-johns came running in to hear.
Pop songstress Ellie Goulding turned her Sunday headlining set into a shimmering dance party with "On My Mind," "Burn," "Something in the Way You Move" and more. It was a thrilling way to wrap up the final day of the festival.
Thom Yorke and co. dared to focus less on their hits than on the overall vibe, and the skittering, brilliant flow they achieved as Friday’s nights headliners under a spooky pink moon was something like perfectly living inside a Radiohead album come to life.
Fest founder Perry Farrell and his band kicked up the Lollapalooza nostalgia factor not only by playing their entire classic 1990 album Ritual de lo Habitual — the album’s tour for which Perry invented Lollapalooza — but bringing out other ’90s Lolla headliners as special guests. Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, class of 1992/1993) dropped by for a sick guitar interlude on “Mountain Song” and Jimmy Chamberlain (Smashing Pumpkins, class of 1994) sat in on drums for “Jane Says.”
Drake has a strong hold on Toronto, but his rival Tory Lanez made it clear that he is the new kid running the show. Lanez' boisterous performance at the Pepsi stage featured the dopest rock star moment I saw at the fest, when the rapper dove into the crowd to scale up a pole.
The producer/singer/songwriter/musical magician owned the stage and captivated the bouncing audience with newer tracks like “Go,” and “Kill V. Maim,” and older cuts like “Be a Body." Despite having her set cut short, Claire Boucher decided to “cut out all the bullshit” and just play her favorite songs, which we weren’t mad about.
Combine pure energy, rapid-fire flawless Vogue-ing, electronica, and frontman Olly Alexander’s mesh T-shirt, and you’ve got Years & Years’ Lollapalooza set, a solid 45 minutes of pure joy, unfiltered expression, and grooviness.
They commanded easily the largest, most tightly packed crowd of the festival with a headlining set on Saturday that brought generations of rock fans shoulder to shoulder to hear all those favorites (especially all those Stadium Arcadium and Blood Sugar Sex Magik classics).