Lollapalooza 2017 closed up Sunday afternoon with performances in Grant Park by Car Seat Headrest, Rag’n’Bone Man, Spencer Ludwig, Charli XCX, Tove Lo, Lil Yachty, The Shins and Justice. Plus a headlining performance by Arcade Fire less than twenty-four hours after a triumphant after show at Metro…
“We have fifteen minutes left somehow,” said Car Seat Headrest singer and guitarist Will Toledo.
It was the second time this weekend a group sped through their set so quickly that they were left with extra time to kill (Ryan Adams did it Friday on the Tito’s Handmade Vodka stage as well).
The Seattle by way of Virginia lo-fi quartet lacked a sense of urgency during their one hour main stage set Sunday but were nonetheless entertaining. “We’re just having fun up here, folks,” Toledo said.
“War is coming (if you Want It)” came late in the set, a clear play on John Lennon’s and Yoko Ono’s early 70s “War is Over (if you Want It)” campaign. It’s a new song that band members said from the stage Sunday is due out August 14th and it wouldn’t be the last Lennon reference to take place Sunday at Lollapalooza.
The group brought out a saxophone player to lend his stylings to the new track and he stayed for impromptu augmentation of closer “1937 State Park,” from Car Seat Headrest’s stellar 2016 studio effort Teens of Denial.
“Wanna jam? There’s a solo. I’ll point at you,” said Toledo as crowd surfers were passed north, closing out a laid back but enjoyable set.
Across Butler Field, English singer songwriter Rag’n’Bone Man was getting started at Petrillo Bandshell.
Featuring bluesy lead vocals, Rag’n’Bone Man is the musical guise of Rory Charles Graham. The tattooed frontman was backed Sunday by a soulful backing band consisting of drums, bass, guitar and keyboards, opening with “Hard Came the Rain,” from 2015’s Disfigured EP.
Adding electronic pop elements to songs rooted in the blues, “No Mother” came second in the set and it’s slowly building groove was powered Sunday by a booming bass with an organ burning in the background.
Over the years, the small BMI stage has sought to expose up and coming artists to a bigger crowd, hitting pay dirt with performances by artists like Lady Gaga and Chance the Rapper over the years and leaving fans with the idea that you never know who you’ll see on the intimate stage just before they blow up.
Sunday, walking south from the Bud Light main stage and Petrillo Bandshell to the Lake Shore stage, Spencer Ludwig was wrapping up on the BMI stage.
Ludwig is a trumpter and singer from Los Angeles signed to Warner Brothers Records. In yet another nod toward the future, Ludwig mentioned from the stage Sunday that he had no merchandise to hawk, asking fans to find him on Spotfiy instead.
In a quick, forty minute set, Ludwig led the way on trumpet, fronting a tight, five piece band, flanked by dancers, creating a unique brand of electro funk as beach balls bounced throughout.
One of the largest crowds of the weekend to take in a set at the Lake Shore stage on the south end of Hutchinson Field, opposite the nearby Grant Park mainstage, caught that of British pop singer and songwriter Charli XCX.
Earlier in the set, she brought out Halsey for a Spice Girls cover and, as I approached toward the end of the her set, she had the crowd moving with a cover of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” a song Charli XCX both co-wrote and handled lead vocal on.
“Pussy power, pussy power!” chanted the crowd following her lead as the set moved to the finish line with “Boom Clap.”
It wasn’t just the Lake Shore stage that was crowded, it was the entire south end of Grant Park as Tove Lo got started moments later on the Grant Park main stage.
“Hey, babes! How you feeling on day four?” asked the Swedish singer. It was interesting to note the difference in audio level when time the singer spoke vs when she sang.
Opening the set with “True Disaster” Tove Lo moved through a highly sexualized set that eventually saw her topless before the afternoon was over.
Fans packed the Tito’s Handmade Vodka stage (AKA Petrillo Bandshell) in unprecedented fashion to see what they could of Atlanta rapper Lil Yachty.
Following a pair of mixtapes last year, the rapper is touring in support of his debut studio album, May’s Teenage Emotions, and performed to a massive throng Sunday night.
Fans climbed light poles, lighting rigs and any Grant Park infrastructure they could just to catch a glimpse of Lil Yachty, eventually scaling the roof of the soundboard en masse.
Back on the south end of Grant Park, James Mercer and The Shins were gearing up for a one hour main stage set of dream pop and indie rock.
It’s easy to forget just how many hits The Shins have but they went to great lengths to prove it at the end of their performance Sunday night.
Where some of the band’s quieter more delicate material can suffer in the outdoor expanse of the festival setting, “Phantom Limb,” from 2007’s Wincing the Night Away, soared.
From 2012’s Port of Morrow, “Simple Song” faired similarly as it followed next in the set. Not only does it feature catchy hooks but guitar parts that resonate wonderfully outdoors at dusk.
But one of the biggest reactions of the set was saved as the group moved back to their 2001 studio debut for arguably their biggest hit in “New Slang.” One of two Shins songs from the album to achieve breakout status following placement on the Garden State soundtrack, Sunday’s performance was the epitome of audience participation.
The Shins worked in a bit of Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” fitting as the group raced off with one of their fastest songs, “Sleeping Lessons” to close their Sunday night Lollapalooza set.
Arcade Fire got an hour and a half both onstage at Metro during a Saturday night after show and on stage Sunday at Lollapalooza on the Grant Park main stage.
Credit the band for changing up the setlist both nights, unlike an act like LCD Soundsytem who played virtually the exact same set last year during both their highly anticipated Metro after show and their Lollapalooza performance.
Saturday night at Metro, frontman Win Butler reminisced about early Arcade Fire performances in Logan Square midway through the set as the band moved into “No Cars Go.”
Sunday night at Lollapalooza, multi-instrumentalist Will Butler wasted no time leaving the stage, heading to the crowd, with his drum, during crowd favorite “Rebellion (Lies)” second in the set.
“Reflektor” was one track the band did Sunday but not Saturday night. Win Butler made it a point to explain the influence of David Bowie on the group, dedicating the performance to him. It wouldn’t be the last reference to him they’d make Sunday.
Bowie was one of the most frequently referenced artists throughout the weekend. Grouplove covered him earlier in the evening Sunday as well.
“I still believe in this country. I still believe we can change this country for the better. This song was written after the second Busch, so we’ve already seen some s–t,” Win Butler said Sunday into “Keep the Car Running.” It echoed a message of positivity he began on the Metro stage Saturday.
“Afterlife” was impressive both nights. Sunday at Lollapalooza, Win sat down on stage during a powerful performance of it.
The group encored with “Wake Up” and a cover of John Lennon’s “Mind Games” both nights. Their unique spin on the Lennon classic featured fitting forays into Radiohead’s “Karma Police” and Bowie’s “Oh! You Pretty Things.”
“There’s too much negativity in this world. We want peace and positivity and justice,” said Win Butler Saturday night at Metro as a preface for the Lennon cover.
*** For more on Thursday Lollapalooza performances by Liam Gallagher, Cage the Elephant, George Ezra and Muse, check out our full day one recap: http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-at-night/2017/08/concert-review-lollapalooza-thursday-grant-park-liam-gallagher-george-ezra-cage-the-elephant-muse-lorde/
*** For more on Friday Lollapalooza performances by Phantogram, Tegan and Sara, Ryan Adams, Run the Jewels and The Killers, check out our full day two recap: http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-at-night/2017/08/concert-review-lollapalooza-friday-grant-park-phantogram-tegan-and-sara-ryan-adams-foster-the-people-run-the-jewels-the-killers-blink-182/
*** For more on Saturday Lollapalooza performances by Glass Animals, Royal Blood, Live, alt-J and Chance the Rapper, check out our full day three recap: http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-at-night/2017/08/concert-review-lollapalooza-saturday-grant-park-glass-animals-royal-blood-live-alt-j-chance-the-rapper/
– Jim Ryan ( @RadioJimRyan )