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It was supposed to rain. Fortunately for the 100,000 Lollapalooza attendees treading the same dirt at Grant Park, and especially for Crimson reporters who only brought one pair of shoes, the soil only dampened from spilled 10-dollar Bud Lights, the occasional vomit, and the sweat in the 86-degree Chicago heat. In an unexpected, probably liability-reducing act of charity, Lolla provides “hydration stations,” where you can refill your water bottle or nine-dollar Bud for free.
All Time Low made the best of their set in that midday sun. Afforded some extra room by the rather early weekday time slot, the crowd head-banged and clapped along to the tight pop punk beats and close harmonies on recent single “Everything Is Fine” and 2009 deep cut “Stella.” More impressively, frontman Alex Gaskarth nearly pulled off what appeared to be a non-ironic product placement for Tito’s Vodka, the sponsor of their stage. It seemed like an authentic endorsement until he later tried to do the same for a water bottle, but apparently named the wrong brand: “Get the product placement right!” he told himself.
Across the festival at the Grant Park main stage, Franz Ferdinand performed an excellent hour. Even Lolla’s world-class sound mixing can struggle to stay clear in the endless expanse of the main-stage audience area, but the Glaswegian indie rockers’ punchy hooks and straightforward arrangements sounded gorgeous. Lead singer Alex Kapranos’s presence, vulnerable and earnest yet cool and detached, translated well to the scale. “I see a Scottish flag, and it makes me feel so much joy and homesickness,” he said. Later, he asked the crowd to note the beauty of the downtown skyline behind them and dedicated the next song to the city of Chicago. Delighting the attendees, the guitars launched into their signature song, “Take Me Out.” Not even the dad with a small child on his shoulders could resist jumping along with the power chords.
LANY’s electronica-inflected dream pop represented a bit of a come-down, especially when technical difficulties forced vocalist Paul Jason Klein to do a solo piano ballad. But they recovered well. The live setting lent their massive hits “Super Far” and “ILSYB” more energy, if at the expense of the blissed-out, reverb-soaked sound that characterizes their records. LANY already has too many Spotify streams for their non-headlining 5:45 time slot to make sense—except for the fact that they have only released one album. Expect to see them billed much higher next time.
In the day’s low point, Lolla displayed a Fortnite tournament—yes, you heard right—at full volume on the main stage during Camila Cabello’s set on the directly-opposite Lake Shore stage. The former Fifth Harmony star best known for “Havana” carried on with a tight, energetic set complete with impressive dance routines, but what were they thinking? Airing the sound of machine-gun fire from the battle-simulator game was especially ill-conceived: Lolla 2018 is not only less than a year removed from the Las Vegas festival shooting but also only a few miles from the march on Lake Shore Drive aimed at forcing the whiter and more affluent North Side to pay attention to the South Side’s gun violence and police brutality. Lolla, with its decidedly white and affluent attendees, spectacularly missed that memo.
—Staff writer Trevor J. Levin can be reached at email@example.com.
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