1:41 PM: A University of North Carolina Chapel Hill flag flies loud and proud at James Bay’s set at the Palladia stage. On the other side of the steadily increasing crowd a Dora the Explorer balloon pumps up and down with the beat from tracks off Bay’s debut album, Chaos and the Calm.
2:05 PM: “Let’s do our best Live Aid 1989 impression,” Bay says to the crowd, and then proceeds to get them to sing back to him in high tones that they just can’t reach.
2:23 PM: The day before his own sold out HARD Summer festival kicks off in LA, Destructo warms up the enormous Perry’s stage with G house and trap favorites, spurring full throated singalongs from jerseyed bros and girls in perilously short jorts.
2:32 PM: Even floating Grumpy Cat won’t crack a smile for Glass Animals’ “Gooey” on the Samsung stage.
2:43 PM: Right after dropping Disclosure’s “Bang It,” Destructo yelled, “Perry’s stage, thank you so fucking much for having me.” Finishing strong with “Dare You to Move” and “Get Higher,” Gary Richards sings along with the lyrics and smiles as the drop brings a cascade of waving arms.
2:45 PM: “This song’s by Kanye West,” announces Glass Animals singer Dave Bayley. It’s a very Glass Animalsy cover of “Love Lockdown” with a woozy, funky, remixed beat, completely different from the original.
3:05 PM: Tove Lo comes normally performs barefoot, but in the midday sun, it’s just not going to work this time. After one song she announces, “I’m gonna go get my shoes. I’m fucking burning my feet off.” After grabbing some sandals from backstage, she launches into “Not on Drugs.”
3:54 PM: Aussie artist Emoh Instead hasn’t missed a beat since Flume’s departure from the What So Not duo. Dropping hip-hop reworks like Big Sean’s “Blessings” to a swelling Perry’s Stage crowd while fans wave spaceman totems and Israeli flags.
3:56 PM: Cold War Kids played more than a few new songs today, starting with “One Song at a Time.” They also debuted “Drive Desperate” and “Hot Coals” later in their set.
4:35 PM: Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett shared with the massive crowd that it was the band’s fifth time playing Lollapalooza. They celebrated their fifth anniversary with a cover of John Lennon’s “Well Well Well.”
4:47 PM: “You want some of that L.A. shit?” asks L.A. resident DJ Mustard over at the Perry’s Stage. He drops some “”Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” so you already know what the answer was.
5:00 PM: DJ Mustard drops a very unexpected, yet awesome cross-genre beat in his hip-hop-dominated set: the killer refrain from the Rapture’s 2006 dance punk song “Whoo! Alright – Yeah… Uh Huh”: “People don’t dance no more / they just stand there like this / they cross their arms and stare you down / and drink and moan and diss.”
5:26 PM: Kaskade drops by the Billboard studio to talk about the rise of house music. He says it’s incredible seeing it on the main stage, considering Perry’s stage was once a glorified table.
5:58 PM: Nicholas Cage heads were sparse at Lollapalooza this year, but one managed to make it to the Samsung stage. “I see Nicholas Cage,” says Brittany Howard, frontwoman of Alabama Shakes. “How you doin, Nick? This is for Nick.”
6:32 PM: DJ Snake drops a crowd-pleasing remix of Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” before transitioning into fire alarm trap. A “Stay With Me” remix homage to Sam Smith ensues before “Where Are U Now” prefaces a monstrous dubstep drop.
6:42 PM: The crowd convulses in excitement as “Lean On” comes in. DJ Snake translates a superlative build into sea of waving hands while hollering, “Thank you so much, you are the best!”
7:42 PM: Alt-J doesn’t say much during their set — not unusual for these four guys — but thanks Chicago and promises the city they’ll return soon. They end with “Breezeblocks;” the crowd goes wild and starts to show off its swaying dance moves.
7:48 PM: Paul McCartney comes onstage about four minutes late, but all is forgotten the second he launches into set opener “Magical Mystery Tour.”
7:56 PM: Producer Nick Sanborn of Sylvan Esso says to the packed crowd at the Pepsi stage in a surprising voice, “So you all chose to forgo McCartney!”
7:59 PM: Sylvan Esso begins to play its hit, “Coffee,” but Amelia Meath pauses for a second on stage before she starts singing. “Just keeping the shorts out of the crotch,” she says as she pulls her shorts down.
8:13 PM: Kygo bounds to the top of the stage with James Hersey to join Dillon Francis for their joint performance of “Coming Over.” The crowd roars with approval while the artists grin. All smiles ahead of the appearance, Kygo tells me it was a bit of an impromptu affair. “I’m excited,” he exclaims.
8:26 PM: Kanye and Rihanna aren’t around, but that’s not going to stop McCartney from performing a little bit of their collab “Four Five Seconds.” The trio performed it at this year’s Grammys, but McCartney had not been performing it at his recent concerts.
8:40 PM: Paul McCartney begins to tell the crowd how he wrote a song for John Lennon, but before he plays it for his fans, he stops and points to the Perry’s stage, where Kaskade is DJing and fog is rising over the trees. If McCartney is competing with Kaskade’s light show, it’s a fair fight. “It’s a crazy mashup, this song and whatever shit they’re playing,” McCartney said.
8:45 PM: The Weeknd comes out 15 minutes late, unusual for a festival where things usually run precisely. But the late start time doesn’t deter his fans, who race across the concrete, running into people to get a good spot as he and his band come out with “High For This.”
9:06 PM: Kaskade can’t contain his smile as he enthralls his hometown crowd with new single “Disarm You,” then mixes into “Atmosphere.” His voice booms on the stage’s system while the audience reacts in ebullience.
9:17 PM: Paul McCartney is in a storytelling mood. After playing “Back in the U.S.S.R.” he says how on the day he became the first rock artist to play Moscow’s Red Square in 2003, he was approached backstage by Russia’s defense secretary, who told him the first record he ever bought was “Love Me Do.”
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) August 1, 2015
9:21 PM: The pyro is out in McCartney’s set. After some on-stage fire, fireworks explode above the stage for a performance of “Live and Let Die.”
9:42 PM: Alabama Shakes fronwoman Brittany Howard (who played with the band earlier in the day) joins Paul McCartney onstage for a surprise collaboration. The two trade vocals and guitar licks on the Beatles’ “Get Back,” with Howard taking on lead vocals for the second verse.
9:50 PM: “You guys want one more?” Kaskade asks to an obvious crowd answer. “This is the city that inspired me and started me on my career, you guys.” He finished with a bass-infused rework of his seminal “I Remember” to the delight of his diehards.