• Alex Friedland
  • Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes and Samantha Urbani

Tal Rosenberg: The big news out of the first day of Lollapalooza was Blood Orange; unfortunately, troubling news about festival security overshadowed otherwise positive feedback about the Dev Hynes-fronted band’s set. According to multiple tweets from Hynes and a Pitchfork report, the frontman and his girlfriend Samantha Urbani were assaulted by security. In a bizarre coincidence, Hynes was wearing a T-shirt with the names of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, and Jordan Davis written on it; Urbani wore a T-shirt that read “STOP POLICE BRUTALITY.” A later report from Lollapalooza indicates that the security guards were not hired by the festival but rather privately hired by that stage. Here’s Lollapalooza’s statement about the incident:

“Late Friday night, we learned of an incident involving an artist and a security guard on site. Since then, we have been in contact with those involved and the authorities, as we work together to resolve the situation. As always, our top priority is to ensure the safety of everyone at the festival.”

Despite the lamentable news about aggressive security, there was plenty of music at the festival that people seemed to enjoy. Two of our correspondents, Emily Ornberg and Kerry Cardoza, had plenty of positive feedback about some of the music performed on Friday. Those recaps, plus a few snapshots of the festival, are below.

Emily Ornberg: To the dismay of many fancily dressed festival-goers, the rain began to fall just before 2:30 PM on the first day of Lollapalooza. But the boys of Bombay Bicycle Club are OK with it. Their sparkling 2011 single “Lights Out, Words Gone” was a fitting soundtrack to the clouds looming over Grant Park. Like their music, they’re optimistic—as the Aussie group’s frontman Jack Steadman points out, “We played last year but now we’re one slot up the bill, so I’d say that’s pretty good progress.” Their beachy pop harmonies soared through the Samsung Galaxy Stage’s speakers, although they were lost on the glassy-eyed crowd. Warpaint’s set brought the sun back out, cruising through psychedelic-rock tracks—such as the pulsating “Love is To Die,” off their recent 2014 self-titled album—so ominously groovy that technical difficulties couldn’t interfere.

After the long trek to Iggy Azalea’s set, her performance unfortunately fell flat. It may be hard to captivate an audience the size of three football fields on a muggy afternoon, but her scream-rapping made every syllable out of her mouth inaudible. “Pussy” was her best number, harking back to her underground days as she finally got the entire crowd gyrating. As her set came to an abrupt end 15 minutes early, I found myself clogged in a glob of crowd traffic so dense that walking became impossible. I somehow got dislodged from the masses on the way to the front row of CHVRCHES, which was easily the best set of the entire day. Lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry’s adorable onstage presence served as a soft Snuggie to the music’s galactic face-melt, boasting twinkling synthesizers and vibrating bass lines on tracks like “The Mother We Share” and “Recover.”

Kerry Cardoza: Blood Orange, one of the many projects of the talented Devonte Hynes, began his afternoon set under threat of rain. Hynes performed in a homemade white T-shirt with the names of Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, and Trayvon Martin emblazoned across it (his girlfriend, Samantha Urbani, who joined him onstage for several songs, wore a similar shirt that read “Stop Police Brutality.”) Hynes and his band proved once again that R&B is alive and well, with a cover of Solange’s “Bad Girls”, which he cowrote, serving as a highlight of the show.

Interpol, who have a new album coming out in September, played a decent set to a mixture of goths dressed for warm weather and kids uninterested in seeing Iggy Azalea. Too late to the stage to get a decent view, I entertained myself in true millennial fashion by reading Jessica Hopper’s biting live tweets of the show.

Imagine yourself surrounded by teenage girls wearing fake flower crowns, one of them screaming in your ear that she has waited her whole life for this moment. Yes, that’s right, you are seeing Lorde, the 17-year-old New Zealand pop star, one of the best acts of the day. Despite some technical difficulties, Lorde played a stellar set while clad in black overalls, a Calvin Klein sports bra, and her signature dark lipstick. The audience was awash with phones recording video during “Royals.”

Eminem delighted fans with his set, playing several of his most-loved hits, from “Rap God” and “The Real Slim Shady” to an epic encore performance of “Lose Yourself.” The real treat of the night came when he brought none other than Rihanna onstage to play “Love the Way You Lie,” “The Monster,” and “Stan.” The sound could have been louder, especially while Eminem talked between songs, but as a feminist torn by her affinity for the troubled rapper, the less I could understand of his message, the better.

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