Concert Review: Lollapalooza - Saturday, August 1, 2015 in Grant Park - Charli XCX, Delta Spirit, White Sea, Tame Impala, Kid Cudi, Sam Smith, Metallica

Concert Review: Lollapalooza - Saturday, August 1, 2015 in Grant Park - Charli XCX, Delta Spirit, White Sea, Tame Impala, Kid Cudi, Sam Smith, Metallica

Some of the best Lollapalooza weather of the past several years continued Saturday afternoon in Grant Park as did performances by Django Django, Charli XCX, White Sea, The Tallest Man on Earth, Delta Spirit, Tame Impala, Kid Cudi, Sam Smith, Metallica and more… 

So far this weekend, there’s been no reason to test the much vaunted new Lollapalooza storm evacuation plan… though with the potential for storms Sunday night, it remains a possibility.

The storms of 2012 were a hot topic with multiple repeat performers having referenced them during their sets this weekend.  Alabama Shakes made their Lollapalooza return on Friday after their 2012 set was aborted entirely due to the weather and on Saturday, both Morgan Kibby of White Sea (who performed in 2012 as part of M83) and The Tallest Man on Earth referenced the 2012 weather.

Charli XCX led one of the early afternoon’s most energetic sets, tearing through an hour long set complete with a jump from the drum riser.  The all female, four piece band touched upon hits like the Icona Pop/Charli XCX collaboration “I Love It” and dug deeper into their own catalog for tracks like “Famous.”

The BMI stage always offers fans an opportunity to catch rising stars just before they really hit it big.  The past ten years have featured sets from artists like Lady Gaga, Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa and more.

One of the stronger sets to take place this weekend on that stage was that of White Sea.  Acting as a showcase for the solo work of M83’s Morgan Kibby, White Sea functioned Saturday as a five piece band performing electro-pop brandished nicely with strong guitar work.  Kibby’s latest single “Stay Young, Get Stoned” is a resplendent piece of pop and sounded terrific in the shade of the BMI stage Saturday afternoon.

Seemingly one of Perry Farrell’s favorite Lollapalooza weekend activities is to show up unexpected on the “Kidzapalooza” stage for a surprise set with friends.  In 2008, the Jane’s Addiction frontman and Lollapalooza creator performed with Slash and in 2013 he jammed with Olympic gold medalist Shaun White.

So armed with the knowledge that a band called The Helmets (featuring Metallica bassist Rob Trujillo’s ten year old son Tye on bass) preceded a “special guest,” a trip to the kids stage was in order.

Following a Helmets set that mixed in covers like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and, appropriately, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” with originals like “Ghost Riders,” (with the members of Metallica reportedly looking on from the foot of the stage), Perry Farrell made his way out for a set of Jane’s Addiction covers backed by the Metallica bassist.  Trujillo’s thundering bass was particularly impressive establishing the intro to “Mountain Song.”

Following the solo electric folk of The Tallest Man On Earth on cuts like “Love is All,” it was off to the shade of the Pepsi stage for a strong set from Delta Spirit.

Continuing a trend that began Friday when Cold War Kids covered John Lennon’s “Well Well Well,” Delta Spirit (featuring guest vocalist T. Hardy Morris) dedicated their take on the Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down” to Paul McCartney (even though it too is a John song).

Metallica frontman and guitarist James Hetfield also made reference to McCartney during his band’s headlining set, imploring the crowd to participate and sing along in the same excited manner he witnessed as he watched the former Beatle perform Friday night.

Metallica’s set, taking place on the same stage where sound bleed marred an otherwise stellar Paul McCartney performance the night before, did not suffer the same fate as the heavy metal thrash icons turned it up to eleven for a thunderous two hours on the south end of Grant Park.

Metallica hasn’t mounted a full tour of the United States since 2009 and Saturday’s Lollapalooza set marked only their second North American date in 2015.  So the opportunity to see Metallica of late has been a rare one.

Rarer still is a Metallica show featuring a setlist based entirely upon their greatest hits.

But Saturday at Lollapalooza, flanked onstage for the duration of she show by 100 contest winners, Metallica kept conversation to a minimum and rolled out the hits, staking their claim as not just the greatest thrash metal act of all time but one of the greatest rock acts of their generation.

Kirk Hammett channeled Jimi Hendrix throughout and James Hetfield proved why he’s one of rock’s most underrated and charismatic frontmen. “This music makes me feel good!” he exulted early on.

Performing at Lollapalooza for the first time since 1996 (a controversial booking at the time which drew ridiculous criticism to the band based upon everything from the Load album to their haircuts), the band looked back to 1997’s Reload album with a ferocious take on “Fuel” to open the show.

The cavalcade of hits continued early with “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Wherever I May Roam,” and “King Nothing” following in short order.

But it was the dueling guitar work of Hetfield and Hammett that frequently stole the show.  “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” was particularly impressive as was “Fade to Black” with Hetfield on acoustic guitar.  “How does it feel to be alive?!” screamed the grinning frontman during the encore.

Closing the set with some of their most well-known covers (their take on the Thin Lizzy version of “Whiskey in the Jar” followed by Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil”) and a nod in the direction of their most successful album only days from it’s twenty-fourth anniversary (“Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman” from their self-titled 1991 effort – one better known as The Black Album), Metallica capped off arguably the most anticipated set of consecutive headlining appearances in Lollapalooza’s eleven years as a Chicago destination festival.

Jim Ryan (@RadioJimRyan)

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