"Just wanted to remind y'all," Machine Gun Kelly stated after a rousing performance of "Wild Boy" that saw him sail over the crowd and lay on the amps. He then followed it up with his most mainstream hit to date, "Bad Things" featuring Camila Cabello, and like clockwork nearly every girl in the crowd found a set of shoulders to sit on. The somewhat jarring transition illustrated the continuing evolution of MGK's career. Later in the set, he took off his shirt to reveal his canvas of tattoos, lit up a blunt ("I need a way fatter one," he said) and shred on guitar. Despite the early afternoon Sunday set time ("They saved the best for the last day I see"), MGK managed to draw a huge crowd (his presence even made a few fans cry) and put on a headline-worthy set.
The fact that Maggie Rogers was playing the main stage was not lost on her -- "everything is great!" she exclaimed. The rising singer-songwriter's live show continually grows stronger, and despite a brief technical difficulty, her Lollapalooza set may have been her best festival delivery yet. With one song to go (the Pharrell Williams-approved hit "Alaska" that launched her career), Rogers appeared on the verge of tears as she thanked the crowd. "My story is about people sharing my story," she said through a shaky voice. "Thank you so much for bringing me here."
Best Surprise Guest
Charli XCX is responsible for starting the biggest sing along of the weekend, as everyone in the crowd screamed out the power pop hit "I Love It." On stage, Charli hopped on and off the sparkly silver platform and bookend podiums -- where the only other two on stage stayed the whole time. During "Boys" the absence of any on stage was palpable, especially considering their abundance in the music video, but the brief appearance by Halsey for a collaborative cover of the Spice Girls' "Wannabe," that they sang over a perfectly crafted deep bass beat, was as good a guest appearance as any.
Rag 'N' Bone Man's deep, velvety voice sounded just as rich live as it does on his debut record -- if not more so. It was clear the English singer is still adjusting to the spotlight, and large festival gigs, as he mostly stood in one place and spoke softly in between songs. But with the help of his powerful singing voice and lively backing band, even his most intimate songs carried well over the crowd. After he sang "Skin," accompanied by just a pianist, fans erupted in cheers and reveled in what could very well be a breakout set for the rising singer.
Most Worthy of Playing the Main Stage
No one could have expected the wild crowd that flocked to the smaller of the two north end stages for Lil Yachty. Wild is even an understatement. Kids had climbed trees, fences, light poles and even the sound booth for a better view -- or possibly to keep a safe distance from the madness ensuing below. "I need to see mosh pits, crowds surfed," Yachty instructed. But at the same time, he was also encouraging the audience to behave (at least to a certain degree): "We got to stay safe in this mother f--ker. Everybody who came to this motherf--ker needs to leave this motherf--ker." Lil Boat performed hits off his own debut Teenage Emotions and also tossed in all the hits he has guested on, from "iSpy" to "Broccoli" -- being sure to include a "lil boat" sonic tag at the end of every track. Later in the set, he asked the entire crowd to open up for a massive mosh pit, they obliged much to the concern of the police and medical staff. With the massive crowd as proof, Yachty could and should have easily played the main stage. Maybe next year.
Most Unusually Upbeat
"We need to have fun," The Shins frontman James Mercer told the crowd. "We're allowed to have fun." Mercer appeared more lighthearted and loose than he usually is onstage -- maybe the combination of playing the main stage as the sun set over the Chicago skyline had something to do with it. The folksy-rock band's setlist spanned its impressive career, and included favorites from "Phantom Limb" off 2007's Wincing the Night Away to "Simple Song" off 2012's Port of Morrow and "New Slang" off 2001's Oh, Inverted World complete with a violinist. With five minutes to go, a smiling Mercer said through a laugh, "We're having too much fun up here" -- the band even slipped into Tom Petty's "American Girl" during closing song "Sleeping Lessons." The bubbly energy made The Shins' set all the better.
Most Explosive Energy
Grouplove came out with guns blazing and voices yelling. "You seem like you're doing f--king great for day four of the greatest festival ever," vocalist and guitarist Christian Zucconi said. "Too bad there's a shark attack!" frontwoman Hannah Hooper fired back, as the power pop band then fittingly performed its track by the same name. The set -- which included a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" -- was heavy on viciously flashing lights, emphatic howls and electrifying energy but the highlight was surely when Hooper revealed the group has been writing a lot lately. To back up her claim, the they then live debuted the new track "Remember That Night," a swampy, alt-rock song that amped up anticipation for a new album to come.
Best At Shutting Down Haters
"Everything now," Win Butler said in a hypnotic tone before Arcade Fire opened its headlining set with the title track off its latest album. Throughout the performance, the band walked a fine line between aggressively promoting its new synth-pop album -- they all wore Everything Now branded apparel, save for Regine Chassagne -- and gently reminding fans that they are, in fact, the same Arcade Fire people know and love.
"We played [Lollapalooza] on The Suburbs. We played here on Funeral," Win Butler said, before once again plugging the new album.
Aside from Everything Now's title track, the setlist included more new tracks like "Signs Of Life" and "Electric Blue." But the meat of the show came from the rocker's older hits off its most beloved, and previously mentioned, albums, from "Rebellion (Lies)," which was extended into a lengthy instrumental jam as Will Butler ran through the crowd banging a drum, to "Ready To Start" and everything in between. A handful of songs came with a brief introductory story, courtesy of Win, such as "Keep The Car Running" -- "I still believe in this country," he said. "We wrote this after the second Bush election, so we've been through some bull--it before" -- and "The Suburbs," which the group dedicated to David Bowie. Win said, "Every time we play this song it makes me think of [him]."
After Arcade Fire performed "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" under a full moon on the last day of the festival, the rockers said goodnight but the lights stayed on. There was more to come. Following its usual finale of "Wake Up," Win said, "I know it's been a long weekend for you, but we want to play one more song." As the clock ticked past the 10:00 cut off, Arcade Fire delivered a heartfelt cover of John Lennon's "Mind Games," with a bit of Radiohead's "Karma Police" tossed in, before finding its way back to the "woah ohs" of "Wake Up" that echoed through Grant Park long after the band had left the stage.