Fun in the Sun at Lolla

Associate Arts Editor Katie Fraser recounts her favorite performances from Lollapalooza

By Katie Fraser, Associate Arts Editor

The first thing I thought about during my four-day weekend at Lollapalooza was that the weather was in my favor. The 81-degree heat did melt glitter off people’s faces and drive festival attendees to buy at least five cans of overpriced water; despite this, Mother Nature blessed the weekend with sunny skies, perfect for pictures and concert viewing alike.   

Apart from the weather, many of the artists and bands performing expressed their love for the festival while on stage. Being able to play for such a large crowd, with bodies squished up against one another and shouts shaking the ground, is something many performers hadn’t experienced for quite some time. Although Lollapalooza did make a return last summer, Chicago was freshly adjusting to relaxed restrictions related to COVID-19. This time around, with a little more knowledge about staying healthy, more artists felt comfortable coming back to the stage. 

The moment I made my way through the (surprisingly fast-moving) lines to the festival, the surroundings immediately alerted me where to go. With food booths lining up from the far western side to the far eastern side of the festival and signs pointing to the different stages, I could easily move around the different stages to view as many performances as I wanted. 

While this year’s Lollapalooza lineup garnered mixed reactions, there were still headliners attracting attention—namely Dua Lipa and J-Hope. All in all, my total Lollapalooza lineup rounded out at a solid twenty performances, with some of my favorites being The Regrettes, Dua Lipa, and Wallows. 

The Regrettes’s show was one of the first on Friday, and the band set the bar high. Their lead singer, Lydia Night, brought energy and a captivating stage presence to her performance, immediately drawing in the crowd. With radio hits like “Barely on My Mind” triggering a call-and-response between her and the audience (even if the majority of the crowd saved their singing for the chorus), and “Pumpkin” getting the crowd jumping and dancing, the crowd engagement was one of the best I’ve seen. The band’s synergy with one another was effortless, and their constant movement around the stage kept the crowd upbeat and excited throughout the hour.  

Before performing one of the band’s most popular songs, “Seashore,” Lydia walked up to the front of the stage, proclaiming that “this is for everyone with reproductive organs, everyone should be fucking scared about what is happening right now.” With this reference to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which had occurred a little over a month prior, the crowd erupted in yells and aptly stuck up their middle fingers during the lyrics, “So you can just go fuck yourself.”  

In my opinion, The Regrettes were the star of the weekend, drawing in the crowd with their catchy lyrics, incredible crowd control, and lively energy. Even though some of the audience didn’t know the band before their performance, The Regrettes gained some new fans that afternoon with their charisma, charm, vigor, and honesty.   

Hours before her late Friday performance, Dua Lipa had already generated a crowd. Entering the stage with a music video introduction to *Future Nostalgia*, her newest album, she started her performance with a bang. Despite the large crowd, her performance was one of the most perfectly executed live shows I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Her vibrant dancing, equally energized background dancers, and incredible vocals allowed her to truly rock the stage. The crowd reached an ultimate high during the performance of the last two songs on her setlist: “Levitating” and “Don’t Start Now”, sending audience members into a screaming frenzy. 

“Dua, please marry me! Just one chance!” the guy next to me cried out every five minutes.  

Overall, Dua Lipa performed beautifully and was absolutely one of the most popular performances of the weekend—the giant crowd only helped to prove that, with a stretch farther than any concert venue I’d ever encountered. 

The next day, Wallows entered the stage to find another huge crowd, the most dedicated fans waiting for hours to be at the front. Blasting well-known hits such as “Remember When”, “Scrawny”, and “Are You Bored Yet?”, Wallows exuded a comforting energy, where the crowd could dance, sing, and yell with all their heart. However, with such a large crowd and performing during a less popular time, much of the audience couldn’t match the energy of the band on stage, many not knowing their lyrics. 

Nevertheless, I enjoyed their energy, and Wallows garnered an undeniably positive crowd response, with yells of excitement following the band even as they left the stage. Overall, they were incredible, and despite the crowd’s third-day fatigue resulting in a less bouncy audience, Wallows drew a number of people for a reason. 

Lollapalooza had its good and bad parts, as all music festivals do. But despite the personal trouble of staying on two feet for such a long period of time, sunburns that lasted for weeks after, and the sometimes lackluster audience enthusiasm, it is safe to say the almost 200 bands delivered a fun and exhilarating show. While there could have been some logistical improvements, most of the problems that people encountered throughout the weekend didn’t overshadow festival goers’ excitement. The weekend was largely a success, and I’m thankful to have seen the energy that emitted from stage and crowd alike.