Lollapalooza Recap- Day 1

Author: Ben Farrell

It’s no surprise that this year’s Lollapalooza offers a stacked lineup. From the aging strokes to burgeoning pop-star Normani, here were my favorite acts from day 1.

Normani

I hadn’t heard of Normani before I walked into Grant Park on August first. All I knew about her was that was a member of the now-disbanded “Fifth Harmony”, a Miami-based girl-group formed in 2012. Since the inception of her solo career, the 23 year old singer hasn’t released a ton of music aside from her hit single “Love Lies”, which peaked at number 9 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts. That didn’t effect the quality of her performance. Accompanied by a 3 piece band and a crew of about five dancers, the Miami native lit up the Lake Shore stage. Her song “Waves”, which features one of Atlanta’s newest r&b crooners 6lack, was literalized by her blue clad dance team. Undulating around her, they formed an actual wave, in an impressively complex and seasoned performance tactic for the young pop-hopeful.

After running through her own, sparse discography, Normani played a continuous set of rap and r&b hits from the past fifteen years, ranging from “My Neck My Back” to “Blow the Whistle” with complex accompanying choreography. Even though it wasn’t her music, Normani brought new life and energy to the music that the crowd loved it.
An especially touching moment came when she admitted to the crowd that “I didn’t know if anyone would come to my stage, so this means a lot.” This moment of sincerity, her wonderful vocals, and the sheer level of difficulty of the rest of this performance, made this show a spectacle I’m glad I got to witness.

H.E.R.

Wow. I haven’t been floored by a show this hard in a long, long time. Though she’s only 22, Gabriella Wilson, a.k.a. H.E.R. Has been active since her appearance on Disney Radio’s Next Big Thing in 2009 as a child prodigy covering Alicia Keys hits. It REALLY shows. In the first five minutes of her set, she played an electric guitar, electric bass, acoustic guitar, and drum machine. And then there’s her almost unbelievably beautiful voice.

The set began with carried away, the first track off of her 2018 EP “I Used to Know H.E.R. pt. 2”, transporting us into the ethereal and emotionally tumultuous world of her music. The sixth and seventh songs of her set, a cover of Deniece Williams’ “Free”, immediately followed by her collaborative effort with Daniel Caesar “Best Part/Nothing even maters” truly cemented her in my mind as one of alt-R&B’s best and most talented artists. Outside of its wonderful composition and catchy melodies, the music was truly brought to life by the live vocal ability she brought. A 10 out of 10 show to say the least.

The Strokes

The early 2000s came back to life on the T-Mobile stage. Julian Casablancas and The Strokes, who are at this point a prestige act, didn’t quite bring the youthful energy that we know and love , and that made them one of the most popular bands of the last two decades. That being said, their undeniable swagger and sheer talent still made this an extremely enjoyable experience.

Straight up classics such as Last Nite, Under Control, and Hard To explain lit up the crowd, clearly striking an emotional cord with many attendees. As a result of the band’s continuous 19 year existence, their playing was so tight that each song was as perfectly executed as an in studio session.

This was both a positive and a negative. As a massive strokes fan, hearing near perfect renditions of songs I’ve been listening to for my entire life was in many ways a dream come true.

But, what makes a truly outstanding performance is the emotional feedback loop between performer and audience, fueling each other’s euphoric indulgence of music. Though the ever-cool attitude so synonymous with the strokes was present, the passion one hopes for was not entirely there. Julien Casablancas’ tipsy drawling stand-up bits, which provided a break between songs, were to me both endearing and disheartening. He felt almost too comfortable up on stage. He’s been there before, and he’ll definitely be there again.

Stay tuned for more recaps throughout the weekend!!