Music festivals are notorious for skimming out on female acts on their lineups, especially when it comes to pop singers. At this year's Lollapalooza, the lack of women (save for Lana Del Rey's drowsy headlining set and some female-fronted rock acts) was frustrating. But there were two pop artists who rode hard for the genre and even did it better than the boys: Dua Lipa and Grimes.
Dua's set was in the early hours on Saturday, so the crowd was sparse. But those who attended were treated to a hidden gem. The 20-year-old U.K. singer, who was one of my picks for the alt-pop girls of the summer, mastered her first-ever Lollapalooza performance with a seductive charm. Even people who had no idea who she was, like a guy rocking a Red Hot Chili Peppers band tee next to me, managed to fall under her spell. Most female pop singers nowadays use sex as a marketing ploy, but she genuinely exudes it.
Channeling a young Rihanna, Dua growled and belted through tracks like "Be The One," "Last Dance," "New Love" and "Hotter Than Hell." Like the musical snake charmer she is, the singer even managed to transform her cover of Jamie xx's “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” into an alluring downtempo.
On the other end, Grimes let her musicality do the talking and placed sexuality on the back burner. Unlike other artists, the Canadian native's weird-as-fuck personality isn't a gimmick. In fact, it's refreshing and undeniably fascinating. During her performance just before the RHCP started their headlining set, Grimes constantly broke the fourth wall by pointing out flaws in her voice ("My vocals are fucked up right now!") and the stage's sound quality.
Her set took me back to 1998, the heyday of girl group power pop, as she created her own quirky group with backup dancers. Ripping through tunes including "Flesh Without Blood," "Kill V. Maim," "Scream" and "Go," she flexed her artistry by dancing, singing and playing instruments. Her monstrous shouts and flashes of blinding lasers took the performance to an otherworldly level.
While Grimes and Dua Lipa may be on the opposite ends of the pop spectrum, they both are unapologetically shaking up the standard of what it means to be a millennial female pop star. So if you willingly decide to miss their next festival performance, the joke's on you.
Below, watch a day in the life montage featuring Fuse staffers at Lollapalooza 2016: