Tyler Daswick: It was a day of anarchy at Lollapalooza, and the raging against the machine began with one of the earliest acts. Mick Jenkins, this year’s edition of the Shafted Rapper on Too Small a Stage, ended his energetic set with an ode to N.W.A.’s “Fuck tha Police,” and fans left ready to wreak havoc on the rest of the grounds.
Yet the chief instigator of trouble proved to be one Travi$ Scott. He showed up to his 45-minute set a half hour late, saying he was “doing the ultimate amount of drugs,” and proceeded to call on the audience to give the “middle finger to security” and jump the barrier. Scott’s set was cut short, and according to an Associated Press report, he was arrested on disorderly conduct charges.
More middle fingers followed. Charli XCX rocked a massive (and quite phallic) inflatable guitar before a sea of flipped birds. Middle-aged metalheads converged on Metallica’s stage waving high the standard symbol of discontent. When the band finally began a two-hour set, all the thrashing seemed a fitting release for Saturday’s pent-up angst.
Indeed, when I broke from Metallica to catch some of Sam Smith’s performance, the Brit singer’s earnestness and charm seemed sort of off-key. As I sprinted back toward the laser lights of Metallica’s stage, my voice rose with the rest of the raging festgoers to join frontman James Hetfield’s growl: “Master! Master!”
Cassidy Ryan: Up-and-coming Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins used water as a metaphor on his album The Water[s]. On Saturday the MC orchestrated a similarly themed call-and-response chant: “Drink more water.” “Water is a direct synonym with truth, and as badly as we need water in this world we need truth,” Jenkins explained. The budding artist comes across as an incredibly thoughtful and intentional person; after the set, he reached over the backstage fence to sign articles of clothing and scraps of paper for a small gathering of fans.
I stuck around the stage to see Raury, an artist with whom I was previously unfamiliar. The free-spirited 19-year-old had more than enough energy—and some killer dance moves—to keep the audience pumped up and partying throughout his 40-minute set.
Sturgill Simpson offered some good ol’ country fun in the mid-afternoon, but I found myself whimpering anytime the blazing sun emerged from behind the clouds. The sensible response: post up in some shade with a Rainbow Cone until Tame Impala.
By Lolla’s halfway mark, my patience with raving teens was wearing thin and every part of my body was sore—but that’s part of the fun, right?
Emily Ornberg: I felt like a disappointed mother learning of Travi$ Scott’s arrest. After showing up to his set nearly 30 minutes late, the Houston rapper was taken into custody after just one song on a count of disorderly conduct for commanding the crowd to shove through a security barricade. Come on, boy!
Bummed out, I trekked though puddles of vomit, heaps of nappers, and a pack of Christian demonstrators to catch the end of adorable Brooklyn synth-pop trio Wet. Wonderfully unassuming, vocalist Kelly Zutrau’s delicate vibrato added gloss and pathos to the group’s mellow, hypnotic R&B.
Sailboats plied the lake behind New Orleans rapper Pell as he closed his eyes though the chorus of his somber lullaby “Runaway.” Dressed like a suburban dad ready for golf—checkered khakis, a grey polo buttoned up to his chin—the 21-year-old MC gave a dynamic performance filled with introspective improvisation and rousing bangers.
Festgoers seem to be getting more creative with the objects they hoist above their heads so that far-flung friends can find their way back to the pack. Among the stuff I saw raised overhead on Saturday: a flamingo, rolls of toilet paper, broken umbrellas, the Pokemon character Charmander, a prosthetic arm, selfie sticks, a cardboard Bradley Cooper, a cardboard Nicholas Cage, a stuffed dinosaur wearing a lei, and Grant Park tree branches. Catching a glimpse of the stage through the jungle of junk became as much of a Lollapalooza survival skill as scheduling pee time between acts.
After a delightfully polished dance party from Toro y Moi, Tyler the Creator jumped around like a child on a stage transformed into a kid’s bedroom with oversized neon furniture. At one point he was sprawled across a mattress mumbling about how he regretted wearing pants. While some in the audience rolled their eyes at his seemingly endless stream of expletives, the firebrand was undoubtedly entertaining.
The rest of the evening slowed to a lull, with an unremarkable set from Kid Cudi. Banks belted heartbreaking ballads, Sam Smith squeaked out some too, and the end-of-day fireworks illuminated Grant Park’s trash-littered fields.
Evin Billington: During their 1 PM set, the LA duo Holychild admirably swam against the current of day two Lolla apathy. The turnout was small and filled with ground-sitters, but singer Liz Nistico didn’t let that put a damper on the affair. She bopped around in a sort of Little Mermaid-meets-club-kid getup: sequined crop top, seashell bra, glittery short-shorts. Given the early lineup slot, the dance-heavy set could’ve fallen flat. The determined Nistico eventually revved things up with a leap into the audience.
The crowd at Django Django couldn’t have been more different; the field was packed and people were giving it up for the Brits. Day two apathy, it seemed, had dissipated. At least until I got to Pell. Some joked that the line for snow cones was larger than the New Orleans MC’s audience. Twice I was asked who was playing. Jared Pellerin rapped with endearing earnestness, beginning each song with words of wisdom. He tried starting a chant of “Pell yeah!” to not much success. On day two, indifference had taken center stage.