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The Best and Worst of Lollapalooza 2018

Good: Bruno, St. Vincent, and Carly Rae’s sword. Bad: your body glitter becoming our body glitter.

Annie Clark (St. Vincent)   Photo: Cousin Daniel

Another year, another Lollapalooza in the books. This year’s festival was particularly hot, reaching 96 degrees on Saturday and Sunday, but one also punctuated by excellent pop, rock, and R&B performances. As in recent years, teenagers and early 20-somethings flocked to the electronic-heavy Perry’s Stage, while the handful of Gen Xers in attendance watched the likes of The National, St. Vincent, and LL Cool J; Bruno Mars served as the great equalizer, bringing everyone together for one outrageously fun performance Friday night. The best and worst of the weekend, below.

The Best

Khalid

Every Khalid song sounds like it was explicitly crafted for a playlist for your crush — pensive and flirtatious but not over the top, with plausible deniability should they not reciprocate. The R&B singer’s Thursday night set was a much-needed dose of chill for an increasingly raucous festival. Plus, the audience of his peers blew a damn gasket singing along to “Young, Dumb and Broke.”

Camila Cabello

Opening with her Top 40 power ballad “Never Be The Same,” this Miami pop star immediately set one thing straight: the girl can sing. Given the explosive energy Cabello brought on the Day 1, it’s obvious she’s been honing her stadium skills on tour with Taylor Swift this summer. In fact, she peppered her hour-long set with Swift-esque soliloquies, as well as a cover of “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” and a self proclamation of emoness.

Lizzo

Donning a bright orange apparatus kind of like a truncated mermaid tail, Lizzo showered her Friday afternoon audience in body-positive bangers. The rapper’s set was unabashedly joyful, complete with chair humping, whip-smart rhymes, powerhouse vocals, and whirring floor fans that left her hair billowing Beyoncé-style for 50 minutes. If possible, I’d like that set injected directly into my veins, thank you very much.

Bruno Mars

It’s rare that Lollapalooza books straight-up pop stars at the height of their careers — the most recent was Lady Gaga in 2010 — but damnit, it’s fun when they do. The 2018 Grammy winner brought the 24-karat magic to Grant Park on Friday, complete with fireworks on what seemed like every downbeat and the biggest crowd of the weekend. Mars and his backing band (who seem like the most delightful dudes on the planet) also sported throwback Bulls garb to match the ‘90s hip hop/big band sound of 24K Magic. Is it possible to dance to “Uptown Funk” without resembling an aunt at a wedding? Who cares! Mars’ 90-minute set was the most memorable headlining performance Lollapalooza has seen in years.

Carly Rae Jepsen gets her sword

Over the past few months, Jepsen fans have insisted the pop singer be given a sword, just because. (Not all things on the internet need to make sense.) Anyway, CRJ fans brought inflatable swords to Lollapalooza, and one of them found its way into the singer’s hands during her final number, “Cut To The Feeling.” Fans were elated.

St. Vincent’s seven guitars

One of the few remotely interesting rock acts at Lolla ‘18, St. Vincent didn’t disappoint. Annie Clark shredded her way through much of her 2017 album MASSEDUCTION, playing seven (!) different electric guitars over the course of an hour. Which, great: As one of the best guitarists of a generation, Clark ought to wield as many axes as she likes. Complete with robotic dance moves, a neon orange dress and lipstick, and wild video art superimposed behind her, Clark made Lolla’s north stage uniquely hers.

Kali Uchis

Watching this Colombian singer-songwriter perform Sunday was like a much-needed breeze in the sweltering heat. The R&B star played mostly from her outstanding new debut, Isolation, while rocking a Lara Croft braid and body rolls that must’ve reached the triple digits. Her fall tour doesn’t include a Chicago stop—likely since she just played Lolla—but this weekend’s performance has me dying to see Uchis in a smaller room.

Vampire Weekend plays “A-Punk” three times

1st “A-Punk”: They’re opening with the song that always plays first in my iTunes library, fun!
2nd “A-Punk”: Is this song a lot longer than I remember? They did take a break in-between, right? Did they forget they played this already?
3rd “A-Punk”: Ezra Koenig has officially glitched out and they will be playing “A-Punk” for their entire 90 minute set. Please, someone, help Ezra, the man is malfunctioning before our very eyes.

7:00pm to 8:30pm

Those cotton candy skies, baby. Stellar sunsets this year.

The Worst

The damn heat

Man, it was a hot one. While we weren’t plagued by melodramatic thunderstorms or the subsequent mud pits this year, highs in the mid-90s made Lollapalooza 2018 one of the hottest on record.

Chunky glitter

Flowers crowns are a thing of the past. The 2018 festival trend is chunky body glitter: Big ol’ shiny hunks, glued to your body! It hurts strangers when you drunkenly rub against them in crowds!

Basketball jerseys

I need to let the EDM dudes in on a little secret: it’s completely legal to wear sleeveless shirts that aren’t basketball jerseys. This Lollapalooza was toasty as hell, and it’s perfectly okay to let your pits breathe in a good old fashioned bro tank. The hoards of ‘90s Bulls and Space Jam jerseys led me to believe that 80% of Lolla dudes simply aren’t aware that normal tank tops exist.

Teens climbing on stuff

Festival-goers were all about putting themselves in perilous situations to get a better view this year—more so than in the past, I’d dare to claim. The number of times I had a near heart attack watching 19-year-old dudes scramble Mulan-style up to a 50-foot camera platform — my god.

Four. Damn. Days.

Jack White closed the festival to a thin, lethargic crowd — and it probably wasn’t even his fault. The onetime White Stripe brought his usual larger-than-life rock aura to the stage; he was simply screwed over by his time slot, as were most Sunday artists. Lollapalooza added a fourth day to the festival in 2016, for its 25th anniversary, and it doesn’t look like we’re ever going back to a three-day event. Maybe we’re just old and battered, but four days in the sweltering August heat is simply too much Lollapalooza. It’s no wonder passes were going for $30 on Craigslist on Sunday. Wearing the audience to the bone ultimately does a disservice to great artists like White, Knox Fortune, and Lykke Li, who played for woefully weak crowds on Lolla’s final day.

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