The unequal representation of male to female artists at music festivals has continued to be a hotly debated topic every season. While Lollapalooza 2017 has done better than others by booking Lorde to be the one representative female of its 16 headliners (though, don't forget The xx and Arcade Fire have female members), the standout performers of Day 3 at Lolla just happened to be from ladies. Sets from Zara Larsson, Léon, Alison Wonderland and Banks proved why festivals need to wake up and get even smarter about their bookings.
Following other female-led acts like Lady Pills, Alvvays and Flint Eastwood, Zara Larsson's 3:15pm set things into high gear, playing an hour of what's likely to be Lolla's best vocal performance of 2017. From handling every vocal run both she and MNEK nail in their hit "Never Forget You" to the slew of belts throughout the different tracks in her recently released So Good album, the 19-year-old Larsson is, vocally, nearly on a Christina Aguilera level. The Swedish singer's set was a refreshing focus to true vocal talent.
Léon played shortly after Larsson, gathering an impressive crowd at the shaded and more intimate Pepsi stage. That intimacy played well with the Swedish soul singer whose songs "Liar," "Treasure" and "Tired of Talking" hit the audience even harder, as did the never-performed-song "Surround Me" that made its live debut just for Lolla. Léon proved the power of her relatable songwriting (which focuses a lot on men who have taken her for granted) and made constant efforts to connect with individuals in the crowd (including giving props to a male attendee holding a "Respect Women" sign that got major cheers from the audience).
Over on the EDM-focused Perry's stage, Alison Wonderland brought literal fire for a pyrotechnic-heavy set that is typically reserved for the later sets. While Ms. Wonderland was apparently encountering some technical difficulties (though no one raging at the stage likely noticed), she laughed off the technicians helping her out, yelling "At least you know it's live!" While so many producers, DJs and electronic acts have gotten flack for phoning in their sets, here is a veteran performer not only confirming she's the real deal, but bringing a refreshing dose to realness that wasn't seen from most of the fest's EDM performers.
Snagging a super-ideal set time, Banks played just before the night's headlining acts at the Lake Shore stage with Grant Park's south field quickly filling for her and Chance the Rapper's sets. Banks brought one of the fest's most visually captivating performances with tons of fog and a gorgeous use of lighting that made her and her backup dancer look like creep-walking phantoms. In fact, Banks' use of color and shadows was ultimately much more captivating and creative than Alt-J, who also played with reds and blue hues, but relied more on the LED screens to add effects than create them onstage themselves.
Incredibly, all it took were four fantastic females who brought vocals, heartfelt intimacy, technical expertise and performance aspects to prove why there's no excuse to not have equal representation for the sexes at festivals.
Stay tuned to Fuse for on-the-ground coverage from Lollapalooza including show reviews, artist interviews, and much more throughout all four days.