Photo Credit to Lollapalooza Article by Stephanie Escobar & Emma Saletta
Every summer thousands gather in the heart of Grant Park to attend Chicago’s famous festival Lollapalooza. Unfortunately when this pandemic hit the future of Lolla 2020 was uncertain, as they delayed any news on whether the festival would go on or be moved to next year. Right around the time, fans would be expecting their wristbands, Lolla announced they were officially canceling Lollapalooza 2020 and were anticipating to see guests for the summer of 2021.
Even though this news was heartbreaking Lollapalooza also announced they were still going to give fans something and that was a free virtual festival. They live-streamed new and old performances on YouTube featuring some amazing artists that have played at Lollapalooza in the past and some where this is their first time playing Lolla. Here are some of our favorite moments from attending Virtual Lollapalooza 2020:
Emma’s Thoughts: Hip-hop is a genre that’s been around Lollapalooza since 1991. I loved how Lolla20 not only showed performances of upcoming rappers, but they also showed performances by rappers that have had famed recognition for a number of years, including LL Cool J and Cypress Hill. Out of all headliners in the hip-hop genre, Lolla2020 made an excellent choice in showing the entire set of Chicago native Chance the Rapper. Not only is he Chicago royalty, but he’s likely the only musician at Lollapalooza to have a firehose needed during a set. One that surprised me performance-wise was rap duo Run the Jewels. Not only was their performance energetic, but they were able to find a fun way to get an audience member involved. Considering they were the first video shown, Lollapalooza founder Perry Ferrell obviously knew he needed to begin Lolla20 on a high note. From expressing opinions of the Black Lives Matter movement, to making sure women are not violated at shows, Lolla20 hip-hop did not disappoint.
Steph’s Thoughts: I’ve gone to Lolla for the past 5 years and discovered some amazing rap and hip-hop artists. During this virtual Lolla, I discovered TeaMarrr and loved her at-home concert, which was produced and shot wonderfully. All her songs are *chef's kiss.* Vic Mensa and YelloPain used their platform to spread the message of Black Lives Matter in such a powerful way during their sets this past weekend.
I was fortunate enough to relive some sets again, and one of them was Tyler, the Creator. I tell you as soon as “Okra” started playing the memories of losing my best friend in a mosh pit came rushing back. Those mosh pits were insane but looking at it from a screen they looked like a hell of a good time. We eventually didn’t reunite until Tyler, the Creator finished his set. Lastly, one of the most iconic performances from Chicago’s very one Chance the Rapper. Being there in person and seeing this again was truly nostalgic and made me want to be part of the crowd again. One of Chicago’s very own mounting to that success fills you up with pride.
Our Favorites: Chance the Rapper, Run the Jewels, Tyler the Creator, TeaMarr, Vic Mensa, YellowPain
Emma’s Thoughts: In my opinion, there are too many musicians to choose from! From classic rock bands Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam, and Metallica, to solo musicians Lorde and Gary Clark Jr. However, when I saw Gary Clark Jr. at Lollapalooza last year, I was blown away. He is the first rock musician I know that I believe is just as good as Slash! LCD Soundsystem on the other hand is a more indecisive band. Their experimentation with instruments and effects for their songs has gotten people to either love them or hate them, which to me is something I absolutely love. A lot of music has been sounding the same lately. LCD Soundsystem aims to be different, which is something that is always brought new to the table in a unique way.
Steph’s Thoughts: Rock and alternative are in my top five genres and there were plenty of artists that were showcased during this virtual Lolla. First, Lorde was one of my favorites. They showed her 2014 performance where she sang her hits such as “Royals” and “Tennis Court”. I got to see her in 2016 at Lollapalooza for like 15 minutes at best until a huge thunderstorm rolled in and we had to evacuate. A rock indie band that I discovered during this Lolla was “The Ivy” who delivered a short but sweet set with their song “Missing Out” and reminded me a lot of The 1975. Milky Chance came to Lolla in 2017 and was one of my favorites sets that I’ve seen. They came back for 2020 to deliver a new performance performing “Don’t Let Me Down”, (my favorite song) “Blossom”, and “Loveland” another beauty. Another rock band that stood out was Tenacious D which I was hoping to catch last year but couldn’t so I was happy they played some of their set. Jack Black is truly a jack of all trades.
Our Favorites: LCD Soundsystem, Milky Chance, Lorde, Gary Clark Jr., Peach Tree Rascals
Emma’s Thoughts: There are some legendary musicians out there that I would be honored to see due to their long-lasting effect in the music industry. One such musician is Paul McCartney. It didn’t matter if he brought another musician out for a surprise appearance. What mattered was that he came out and performed one of the most memorable performances in festival history. Another such performer was OutKast. Their 2014 set not only included hits such as “Hey Ya” and “Ms. Jackson”, but it also included “Player’s Ball”, their first number one hit. Even though “Hey Ya” was stuck in my head for quite some time, “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure was stuck for a longer period. Last but not least, who could forget bands such as Metallica and Pearl Jam. If anything, those are the two other bands that I would be honored to see in the festival circuit with Jane’s Addiction due to their heavy involvement with Lollapalooza in the 1990’s. For a bonus Pearl Jam song treat, Toni Cornell, daughter of the late rock singer Chris Cornell, sang a cover of Pearl Jam’s “Black” on the first night of the festival.
Steph’s Thoughts: There were some artists that were showcased this year that would be considered legends at Lollapalooza. To start out, if I didn’t mention Jane’s Addiction, it would be a sin. Lollapalooza was conceived by Jane’s Addiction's very own Perry Ferrell, as a farewell tour for his band. They played the very first Lolla in 1991, then 2003 and reunited during this virtual Lolla to make it extra special. Metallica was another band who was featured. They made their first appearance at Lolla in 1996, and for this year they aired footage of their performance at Lolla in 2015. A performance that definitely did not disappoint their fans. Paul McCartney is another artist that everyone should witness live. They played his full set from 2016 when he headlined Lolla. Artists like him have a profound impact on the music industry. Lastly, one of my favorites; OutKast. They showed their set from back in 2014 where they sang their hits “Hey Ya” and “Ms. Jackson”. You bet I was partying in my room when they played.
Our Favorites: Paul McCartney, OutKast, The Cure, Metallica
Emma’s Thoughts: This genre is an interesting one because of how a lot of pop musicians included in the festival are not well known! Based on the lineup, the most well-known pop musician I watched was Ellie Goulding. Gaining popularity from her hit single “Love Me Like You Do”, I thought it was refreshing that her performance for Lolla20 did not include that song. Another artist who brought his a-game for the festival was MAX, who performed a beautiful set that included his hit song “Lights Down Low”. Finally, another pop singer that stuck out to me was RAYE, who even though performed a set for less than ten minutes, did it with nothing but a microphone and keyboard. It is incredible for a musician to pull that off from her own home, especially for a virtual festival.
Steph’s Thoughts: I have a plethora of artists I loved in this category so let’s start with RAYE. She played one of her popular songs ``Natalie Don’t” which reminded me of a modern pop version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”. Next, is Kali Uchis who is one of my favorite artists and I was able to see her at Lolla 2018 when she played the Lakeshore stage, and she came back for 2020. She performed “Dead to Me” and did an angelic cover of “Que Te Pedi'' which was originally sung by La Lupe, a Cuban singer known to sing boleros (Spanish love songs). Another artist I loved was Kaina, a first-generation Latina, and Chicago native. They showed a clip of her performance for a Red Bull production called Xicago; a latinx fest to showcase latinx artists in Chicago. Shaed and Pink$weats were others that I'd seen live at Lollapalooza. Shaed had a new set where she performed her classic hits, while Pink$weats recently released an EP and sang some new songs during his set. Lastly, MAX was another artist that stood out to me. He played his most recent single “Naked”, and also sang a snippet of “Burn It” which is featured in Agust D’s (member of BTS known as Suga) mixtape “D-2”.
Our Favorites: RAYE, MAX
Honorable Mentions: Alabama Shakes, Arcade Fire, H.E.R., Imagine Dragons, Portugal. The Man, Masego, Royal & The Serpent, John Carter Cash