Most Earnest U.S. Festival Debut
Rising Swedish pop singer Zara Larsson opened with an enthusiastic performance of her biggest hit to date, "Never Forget You" with MNEK. Larsson revealed this was her first-ever U.S. festival gig, as well as her first performance since the release of her debut album, So Good. The set largely consisted of the album's track list, but she did slide into the chorus of Ed Sheeran's "Shape Of You" midway through performing her own song "Don't Let Me Be Yours" that she wrote with the Sheeran. Considering the significant amount of guest verses and electronic breakdowns that fill out So Good, Larsson made sure to fill those slots with sultry choreography while joined by two backup dancers. Though, her own bubbly presence would have been more than enough on its own to command the large crowd.
Least Likely To Stand Still
Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley rarely, if ever, stood in one place on stage for long. He bounced around in front of a spinning, sparkly golden pineapple while singing the group's signature psych-rock slow jams from "Youth" to "Gooey." Even though the sound was a little soft, especially for a main stage set, Bayley's dedicated delivery made up for it.
Russ, who performed to a huge crowd at the Pepsi side stage, opened his set with his hit "What They Want." Joined on stage by a DJ, the MC spit his rhymes over a backing track, and between nearly every song instructed the crowd to put their hands up. Russ made the 45-minute set fly by as he (mostly) tossed his ego to the side -- save for the "f--k MTV" chant he started, likely for being snubbed from a Best New Artist nomination -- and saved little time for onstage banter. Rather, he let his often-times dark lyrics ("Pull the Trigger," "Psycho (Pt. 2)") stand on their own before ending with his most tender track "Losing Control."
Most Haunting Harmonies
Fresh off its latest album, Relaxer, Alt-J now have three albums to pull from for its live shows. From songs like "Something Good," "Tessellate" and nearly all of its 2012 debut, An Awesome Wave, to newer selections off Relaxer, Alt-J's main stage set was a testament to how far the group has come. The groovy, ambient production and airy, pitch-perfect vocals treated the crowd (that mostly consisted of dedicated Chance fans waiting his hometown headlining set) to a much needed breather -- especially considering it was nearing the end of day three (what once upon a time would have been the festival's final hoorah).
"We've been touring for two months now," Jillian Banks, who performs under her surname only, told the crowd. "This is the last [festival] show. We've just been waiting for f---ing Lollapalooza." Moments earlier, Banks had sauntered on stage covered in a black veil as a voice-over served as her entrance music. The dramatics only heightened from there, as the singer's sharp movements and mostly neutral expression played into her sulky aesthetic. Her set, complete with synth-driven songs like "F--k With Myself," "Gemini Feed," "Trainwreck" and others, welcomed the night with open arms.
Most Celebratory Homecoming
A highlight reel suddenly blares from the two large monitors on each end of the main stage: a message from Michelle Obama, history-making Grammy wins, charitable work and donations for Chicago and its public schools, a Jeopardy answer and more. They all had one thing in common, they were about Chance The Rapper. In all, the reel likely said his name 50 times at least.
"I'm going to f--k this show up," Chano said after he ripped through Coloring Book tracks "Mixtape," "Blessings" and "Angels." He then explained to the crowd that he asked his set not be live-streamed because "I want it to just be me and Chicago."
Chance's growth has been immense within the past few years -- as the opening reel so clearly illustrated -- and on his third anniversary since he last performed at Lollapalooza (he headlined Perry's stage in 2014), he made sure the set was more celebratory than ever. Within fifteen minutes fireworks sparked out of the stage twice.
For "D.R.A.M. Sings Special," Chance messed around on a synth pad for a lengthy amount of time, delivering a danceable remix of the track that suited the Lolla-goers well. After loosening up the crowd, Chance then slid into the political portion of his set: "You guys have all the power in the world. Yeah, did you get goosebumps?" he asked. "I don't give a f--k who it is, put pressure on your politicians to put you first. Yeah, that way. I'm feeling myself. Come at me Rahm!" (Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was even at Lollapalooza earlier in the day).
As Chance powered through older tracks like "Favorite Song" and "Cocoa Butter Kisses" off Acid Rap, his voice strained a bit and he opted to let the crowd help him out as he held the mic out in front of him. After shouting out his Chicago hip-hop peers Vic Mensa (who previously joined him for "Cocoa Butter Kisses"), Noname and Saba he then asked, with 17 minutes left, "Are you all ready to start the show?" The remainder of the set included firework explosions numbers four through seven and saw Chance run through "No Problems" and "All Night" before welcoming Francis and the Lights to the stage for the now set list staple "May I Have This Dance."
By 10:05 p.m., Chance was dishing out thanks (his voice noticeably raspy) for everyone involved in Lollapalooza and said how he wants to make his show last as long as it can (it ran until 10:20 p.m.). "Y'all know this one?" he asked before going into "Same Drugs." When taken at a surface level, the lyrics speak volumes to Chance's career. "Don't you miss the days?" he sings, quite possibly directing the question to himself. He's come a long way from passing out mixtapes on Chicago street corners, but seeing the level of stardom he has reached -- as evidenced by what may have been one of the biggest crowds for a Lollapalooza headliner to date -- Chance seems more than comfortable with where he's at now.