Kings Of Leon Cover Robyn, Close Out Lollapalooza in Style


The Nashville band’s set included a cover of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own”

Kings of Leon closed out Lollapalooza 2014 with a Sunday night main stage set back-ended by their biggest hits and a rather out-of-character cover.

Caleb Followill may not be the chattiest of frontmen, but he and the rest of the band know how to let their songs do the talking. “All business” was an accurate descriptor for the headlining set, and considering the band’s live issues in the past (which included a canceled 2011 tour), the Lollapalooza stage was a welcome show of strength for the long-running Nashville-based act.

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Somewhat surprisingly, Kings of Leon didn’t lean heavily on its most recent effort. The band played just four songs from 2013’s Mechanical Bull, and overlooked songs like “Temple” and “Beautiful War,” which they released videos for in the past year. Fittingly though, they saved their two mammoth Only By the Night Hits -- “Use Somebody” and “Sex on Fire” -- for the final half hour, closing with the latter.

The Chicago crowd had braved on-and-off rain all afternoon which had left the Grant Park grounds messy and muddy by the time the brothers Followill took the stage at 8:15pm. Slowly but surely, KoL’s set convinced the masses to forget about the swampy surroundings, agree to toss out the clothing they’d worn that day, and embrace the nighttime set under (finally) clear skies. Case-in-point: the crowd avoided a massive, muddy pool near center stage when the band opened with “Supersoaker;” fifteen minutes later, it had disregarded the quagmire and overtaken it in a collective effort to get closer to the action.

The action onstage proved that one of Kings of Leon’s best moves is the slow-burning rocker. Songs like “Back Down South” ebbed and flowed, and built momentum leading to majestic, cathartic releases. This is a band that’s prone to taking itself a little too seriously at times, but even when the Followills got profound, the authority of the Lollapalooza headlining stage seemed to validate their ambitions. A string quartet to punctuate songs like “Crawl” and “Comeback Story”? Why not! And in the encore, a pop cover reminded the crowd that Kings of Leon don’t always take themselves that seriously, after all. Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” was given a guitar-centric treatment that meshed so well with the surrounding songs, it wasn’t obvious what the band was pulling off until it got to the memory-jarring chorus.

And when he did address the crowd, Caleb Followill remembered to pay his respects to the festival that supported his band through thick and thin. “This was the first American festival that took on Kings of Leon,” he reminisced midway through the performance. “Even back when it was a traveling festival and no one came out to watch us.”

For a band that’s certainly seen its peaks and valleys in the past several years, this evening definitely fit the former.