The rain poured heavily and consistently on the third and final day of Lollapalooza 2014, as downpours turned much of Chicago’s Grant Park into a skating rink of sticky mud on Sunday (Aug. 3). The weather was unfortunate, but as the weekend became soggier, the performances turned transcendent. Sunday was arguably the all-around strongest day of the three-day fest, with EDM acrobatics from Skrillex and Flume, crackling hip-hop from Childish Gambino and Run The Jewels, pop sing-alongs from Betty Who and Bleachers, and a day of chugging guitar-rock led by headliners Kings of Leon. There was even a surprise R. Kelly cameo! In the end, our shoes were ruined, but our weekend certainly wasn’t, as the sky cleared up just in time for the final acts of Lollapalooza.
We tried to soak in as much Lollapalooza as we could — literally — and here’s what we saw on Sunday:
12:25 PM: Shy Girls ends its short set with their moody cover of Brandy’s “Sittin’ Up In My Room”; without announcing what song it is, the R&B group totally befuddles the unaware audience.
1:04 PM: Jhene Aiko pulls a strong crowd to the Samsung Galaxy stage for her afternoon set of sultry R&B tunes. The sky begins to drizzle, and then then erupts into a full-on shower as the set reaches it’s climax, but no worries — the audience in Grant Park is keeping its head up.
1:33 PM: Following her performance, Aiko is spotted in the artist area scampering toward her trailer in a clear plastic rain jacket, searching for refuge from the coming downpour.
2:06 PM: The sun breaks through the clouds as Jack Antonoff’s Bleachers covers the Cranberries’ 1993 hit ‘Dreams.’ Coincidence? We think not.
2:19 PM: Swedish alt-rockers NONONO inform their audience that they traveled 30 hours to make their Sunday afternoon festival set. “So jet lagged,” singer Stina Wäppling sighed, then added triumphantly, “but don’t feel any of that jet lag!”
2:51 PM: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue command what is easily the most family-friendly crowd of this year’s festival (outside of the Kidzapalooza acts, of course). At least a dozen parent-child pairs are spotted watching the group, many of the tykes sitting on their guardians’ shoulders to watch the action.
4:20 PM: When his phone is handy, Killer Mike likes to tweet out a 4:20 reminder every day. During Run the Jewels’ set at the Palladia Stage he needed a little help: “Happy 4:20 — Somebody tweet that for me!” he yells.
4:22 PM: During Run the Jewels’ performance, El-P screams at security to stop roughing up a female audience member. Then, moments later: “Oops, my bad, it’s a guy… And I just added insult to injury calling him a girl!”
4:47 PM: It’s time for the crowned Lords of Funk to hit the Bud Light Stage. Dave 1 and P-Thugg get a “CHRO-ME-OH-OHH-OHH” chant going before bursting into their slick dance floor jam “Night By Night” to open the set.
5:22 PM: “Last time we were here there was a torrential downpour,” Matt Schultz, clad all in white, said during Cage the Elephant‘s very wet set. The rock band from Bowling, Kentucky put on a good show despite the weather.
5:26 PM: Chromeo are giving the fancy footwork treatment to tracks from new album White Women… literally. During “Over Your Shoulder,” Dave 1 and P-Thugg lead the crowd in a little left-to-right shuffle. The move catches on and the performance is as tight as Dave-1’s pants… which is pretty tight.
5:46 PM: Actress Sophia Bush is spotted watching her pal Betty Who’s Lollapalooza debut near the side of the stage, and a group of girls is desperately trying to get a photo of the former One Tree Hill star. When the set ends, Bush does them one better and poses for an epic selfie, leaving some of the girls speechless and ready to faint.
5:54 PM: Glenn Hansard was a bit luckier with the weather than Cage the Elephant. The rain stopped briefly for the singer, of Once fame, who ended his set with a cover of “The Auld Triangle.”
6:03 PM: After introducing “Lovin’ Start” as “the love child of Ja Rule, Ashanti, and Phil Collins,” Betty Who continues to express her love of late ‘90s/early 2000s pop with a heartfelt cover of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.”
6:16 PM: Earlier in her set, Betty Who admitted she was surprised how many fans (including one waving her native Australian flag) made it out to the BMI Stage to watch her set. That number only increases as curious passer-bys flock over to catch her close her set with the familiar viral hit, “Somebody Loves You.”
6:32 PM: The torrential downpour began again during The Avett Brothers time on the Samsung Galaxy stage. But that didn’t stop people from dancing in the giant mud pit. At one point, the band played “Laundry Room” while much of the audience grooved in the muddy waters. Another highlight of the Avett Brothers’ time on stage? Their cover of George Jones‘ “And the Race Is On.”
7:30 PM: The rain stopped just in time for the band from southern California. Fresh off their midnight show with Grouplove and Manchester Orchestra at the House of Blues in Chicago, Young the Giant‘s lead singer Sameer Ghadia stopped the music enough to congratulate guitarist Jacob Tilly, who had just returned to the stage this weekend due to a broken arm. YTG’s “It’s About Time” and “Mind Over Matter” were big hits with the Lolla crowd.
8:03 PM: Ethan Kath, one half of Canadian electronic duo Crystal Castles, DJs on the Palladia stage. Kath drops gritty dance tracks, including a remind of his own band’s festival favorite “Baptism,” for the fans flocking to the nearby Bud Light stage where Skirllex will soon take control. A perfect warm up.
9:09 PM: Chance The Rapper offers a real hometown treat when he brings out surprise guest R. Kelly. The fellow Chicagoan warbles the chorus of “The World’s Greatest,” the intro of “Bump ‘n Grind” and some of “Ignition (Remix)” alongside the young MC.
9:10 PM: “It doesn’t matter where you’re, from as long as you’ve got a child inside. That’s why we come to these festivals,” says Skrillex, who’s destroying the Bud Lights stage with a barrage of a beats he’s detonating from inside a booth designed like a space jet. “Where’s my nickelodeon generation at?”The kids (and there’s a lot of them) scream with glee as Sonny drums another bomb.
9:34 PM: Intent on showing off his dance moves, Chance The Rapper leads his crowd in a game of “Juke Juke Revolution,” which eventually just devolves into the cha-cha slide. Everyone in the audience is confused by the choreography, but Chance is breathlessly learning the footwork.
9:40 PM: While Kings of Leon, Skrillex and Chance the Rapper play for the mega-crowds, and audience of a few hundred ambitious listeners are taking a trip to the DARKSIDE at the Grove stage. The space-rock duo of Nicholas Jarr and Dave Harrington melts faces with tracks like “Golden Arrow” and “Paper Trails,” rewarding those who chose to end their Lollapalooza experience on a more experimental note.
9:47 PM: What if Kings of Leon sat around and watched the first season of Girls by themselves? It might inspire them to play this very special Lollapalooza cover — a slow-burning, guitar-centric take on Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own.”
9:53 PM: It’s time to close out Lollapalooza with a song everyone came wanting to hear. The Followill brothers send off the main stage with a rousing performance of “Sex On Fire.” Another Lollapalooza in the books, folks. See you next year.