Iggy Azalea may have only one album to her name and a number of hits that you can count on one hand, but that didn't matter to the throngs of teens and college kids that stampeded to her Lollapalooza performance on Friday afternoon (Aug. 1). Twenty minutes before the "Fancy" rapper's 4:30 set at Chicago's Grant Park, the crowd was already suffocatingly dense; when she arrived onstage, the screams were shrill and plentiful. As Azalea started with "Beat Down," the muscle-bound guy behind this reporter in the crowd quipped, "I just realized that I only know one song that she does." It didn't matter -- he, and everyone else, treated Azalea like a rock star.
That "one song" was, of course, "Fancy," Azalea's collaboration with Charli XCX that topped the Hot 100 chart for seven weeks and remains a strong contender for 2014's Song of the Summer. Azalea naturally saved that smash for last, and offered 40 minutes of humor-free hip-hop while DJ Wizz Kidd blasted bass drops behind her. Operating on Perry's stage, which is mainly reserved for electronica artists, Azalea was backed by the trippy graphics of the prototypical EDM set and absorbed the energy of the dance crowd. Songs like "Change Your Life" and "My World" throbbed with electricity, and the incredibly young audience lapped up the uptempo set like it was a Skrillex showcase. Herds of shirtless bros, tiny white girls who spat all the words to "Pu$$y," a sleepy-looking kid with a self-created "Who Dat? Who Dat?" shirt -- they were all dismissing concurrent sets by Interpol, Blood Orange and Portugal. The Man in order to bow at the shrine of Iggy.
Azalea's stagecraft still needs polishing. Occasionally grooving alongside her backup dancers and flaunting her body in a black-and-white getup, the rapper too often seemed satisfied to sit herself atop a white platform at center stage and casually spit her verses. She didn't need to work hard to get the crowd in a tizzy, but her stage banter was lacking; at one point she remarked that Chicago is known for its cold weather, then exclaimed, "Let's make it hot, Chicago!" These are the tribulations of an artist who is still relatively new and finding her rhythm in front of large audiences, although judging from the crowd's reaction to the performance, her missteps were easily forgiven.
Azalea surprisingly shrugged off her verse from Ariana Grande's "Problem," but "Fancy" proved to be the elated sing-along that everyone wanted. The best song in the set, however, was "Black Widow," the penultimate song in the set list and Azalea's next single. Finding the pristine balance between her snarl and sultriness, Azalea aced the banger, which has continued to rise in the Top 40. It's probable that, pretty soon, the attendees who profess to "only know one song" will have another with which they're keenly familiar.