Lollapalooza 2017: Saturday and Sunday recaps include Mac DeMarco, alt-J, Arcade Fire, The Walters

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Saturday

The latter half of the four-day festival has arrived, brining many returning weekend wristband holders back to the lovely Grant Park. Day one featured rain, and a lot of it. Day two swiftly followed with a cold front that shook crowds to the bone. But day three brought Chicagoans near-perfect weather to kick off the second half of Lollapalooza 2017.

For what seemed to not be the case day one or two, Saturday-only wristbands stood out. That may be due to the fact that it’s actually the weekend now and people have other things to do other than dance and be-bop around Columbus and Jackson for four days. Or it could have something to do with the fabulous lineup that Saturday offered for the busiest and most crowded day of the festival thus far.

Popularity wise, Grant Park stage was where to be. Since the minute the doors opened early Saturday afternoon, loads of people rushed to the biggest stage that Grant Park offers for a chance (no pun intended) at some prime real estate for that night’s headliner. That’s roughly eight or so hours of waiting just to secure a spot for the hometown act, Chance the Rapper. Although, in the meantime, the Grant Park stage made the time go by so quickly with the fluidity of the stage’s lineup.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Dave Bayley at Lollapalooza 2017 on Saturday. Glass Animals is an English indie rock band from Oxford. (Josh Leff/The DePaulia)

Glass Animals

Taking place two set times before the headliners, Glass Animals performed to a deep crowd under the hot sun at the Grant Park stage. The English indie rock band alternated between songs from both of their albums. Often diving into some indie electronic and some alternative R&B, lead singer Dave Bayley often interacted with the hand-flailing crowd by running up and down the rail. Behind Bayley and his mates, an enormous cartoonish pineapple slowly rotates, an obvious signifier and reference to their popular song, “Pork Soda.”

On a day that features so many impressive acts, Glass Animals held their weight and gave many people who were waiting for the latter acts an enjoyable time as they held down their spots. Glass Animals are quite comfortable with the festival circuit by now, as they tour internationally to the biggest festivals around the world. Lollapalooza is just another addition to their impressive track record.

Guitarist of the Leeds, England-based indie rock band Alt-J Joe Newman played hits “Matilda” at Lollapalooza this weekend. (Josh Leff/The DePaulia)

Alt-J

Continuing on the Grant Park stage, third-time Lollapalooza returning act alt-J welcomed yet another large crowd. The main stage continued to fill to the back hills that the previous days didn’t even come close to reaching. Alt-j, another English indie rock band, is now coming off of their third album, Relaxer, which is a mature step along the same path as their two previous albums, “An Awesome Wave” and “This Is All Yours.” The dual vocals of both keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton and guitarist Joe Newman interchangeably create sounds that are so uniquely associated to Alt-J and only alt-J. Memorable crowd favorites include “Matilda,” “Tessellate” and the pleasing set ending, fan favorite “Breezeblocks.” Alt-J’s set acted as a refreshing breather as the ambient drum and baselines kick throughout the warm evening as headlining fans posted up. By no means, there were definitely alt-J fans loving every moment of their set, but the amount of fans chilling out and waiting the few last hours was so incomprehensibly different than any other day of Lollapalooza.

Mac DeMarco

Headlining up against Chance the Rapper, Canadian singer/songwriter Mac DeMarco was featured on the Pepsi stage. No artist, especially during a large festival like Lollapalooza in Chicago, would ever want to be scheduled up against Chance the Rapper. Nonetheless, with the negative circumstances for DeMarco, his melodic guitar riffs proved that de deserves the timeslot. DeMarco and his band played a pre-show on Thursday night which 3,000 RSVP’s were submitted, but only a lucky 300 got to join him at the Ace Hotel in the Fulton Market area. Given that everyone and their 8 best friends were at Chance, DeMarco understood that his following was right there in front of him. His hour set comprised of many of his popular oldies like “Ode to Viceroy” and “Salad Days” but what surprised his crowd under the trees was his added usage of jamming and goofing off.

His progression through a twisted “A Thousand Miles” transitioned into a groovy love song about tequila. DeMarco’s on-stage presence is his normal one, often sipping Jameson with his band mates even when they are mid-song.  As his set and Lollapalooza came to a close on Saturday evening, DeMarco’s last song “Chamber of Reflection” ignited one last burst of energy before the dreadful travel home. Ending on a hilarious note, DeMarco leaped into the crowd during the last jam, crowd surfed while removing his socks and throwing them into the air before returning back to stage to finish off the song with a pair of sunglasses that he did not have before this sequence.

Chance the Rapper

The biggest crowd of the weekend by far happened at Grant Park stage for the hometown act of Chance the Rapper. Appearing on stage riding a motorbike, Chance drives it off to the side as fireworks shoot to the sky. After some brief messages detailing Chance’s significance to the city of Chicago and his Grammy wins, the extremely hyped show featured tracks off of “Coloring Book” like “Blessings” and “Angels.” Having his own guest list for the entire weekend, Lollapalooza seemed like it was his festival. Ultimately many of his fans did not think his set accumulated to the excessive amount of praise that it was played up to be. Although securing the largest event at Lollapalooza this year, Chance’s anticipated set was one that nearly everyone did not want to miss.


Sunday

This marks the second consecutive 4-day festival for Lollapalooza. Starting last year for the 25th anniversary extravaganza, the festival will continue with the 4-day plan for at least another year. There was still much left to experience on Sunday as nearly 50 acts were scheduled to perform on the weekend’s hottest day.

As the festival draws to a close, the new roller skating rink was rather active on Sunday because of the finish line approaching. As disco lights shined the rink in the far distance of  Perry’s beats, the fresh smell of the very popular lobster corn dog swooped in.

The Walters

Another local Chicago band that rocked on the Pepsi stage was the indie rock band, The Walters. Named after the guitarist Walter Kosner, the sporadic lead singer Luke Olson started the day off with alternating between slower songs like “Fancy Shoes” to the song that Olson says, “If we could play one song, it would be this one,” as The Walter’s jump into their final track of the set “Hunk Beach.”

A Lollapalooza set for The Walter’s notably shows their significant rise as the band is often seen playing sets at local bars and even the Metro where they opened for The Head and the Heart after show on Sunday night.  This show began the day on a high adrenaline rush as the crowd moshes in the early afternoon to songs off of The Walter’s first collection “Songs for Dads” and a new unreleased track that received exciting vibes.

The Shins

The flowery stage design for The Shins was a perfect fitting for the early evening set as the sun inched over the city buildings. The 2012 single “Simple Song” played near the opening of the hour-long performance as James Mercer fell to his knees while queuing up a cover of “American Girl” by Tom Petty at the end. “Things can get really tough,” and “we can have fun, we’re allowed to do that,” Mercer said to a packed Grant Park main stage as people jump to other hits that span their entire career. The feel-good set both on stage by The Shins and the uppity crowd made this performance a big surprise and remains among the top after the long weekend.

Rae Sremmurd

One of the closing acts of Lollapalooza was Rae Sremmurd for the end of a great lineup that occurred at the Pepsi Stage. The hip-hop duo from Mississippi fully packed the stage with their hard-hitting trap-like rap. Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee, brothers, released their sophomore album last year “Sremmlife2.” Drawing a younger crowd (playing during Arcade Fire) the fatigue was apparent on both ends of the spectrum. There were many festival goers passed out in the back after their longest 4 days of the year, but many kicked that sleeplessness away and went nuts for songs from both “Stremmlife1” and 2. Pepsi stage went out on a high note that simply put on the best shows of the weekend.

Arcade Fire

Every time that a radio comes on (which is actually pretty rare, but nonetheless) Arcade Fire’s newest single and title track “Everything Now” is playing. That’s exactly how it was when you arrived at their headlining set Sunday night. Arcade Fire has made an appearance at Lollapalooza for 2 out of the four albums previous to the newest, “Everything Now.” These guys know what they are doing when it comes to a set at Lollapalooza; they understand the crowd and know how to respond to them. Some new songs like “Signs of Life” and “Electric Blue,” which were overlooked by many as they were shoved around by favorites like “Ready to Start” and the dedicated David Bowie song “The Suburbs,” were among some new music that had the crowd anticipating what is to come for the band that’s been around since 2001.

Arcade Fire ended Lollapalooza 2017 in a fashionable manor. The festival provided many music lovers a memorable experience and a positive outlook for future years in the early of August in the ever-changing Grant Park.