Monday, August 5, 2019

Friday at Lollapalooza - Hard to Top a Perfect Day...but Then Sunday Morning Hit

Photo credit Charles Reagen Studios
Not gonna lie - Friday at Lolla was one for the books.  Why was it so great?  Hopefully some of these observations and random thoughts can answer that: 

The Weather!
Wow - the one thing organizers can't control - the weather - was amazing for all four days!  That's unprecedented for Lolla.  Usually the heat is unbearable or storms cause havoc (evacuations!).  Four straight days of sunshine and relatively comfortable summer weather simply made the festival experience that much better.  Better yet, hopefully it means Grant Park will be in better shape than it usually is.

The Music Actually Beat Expectations
Obviously this is highly subjective, but across the board we were pleasantly surprised that everywhere we went the performers were better than expected.  The under card shows are always hard to predict.  They can be historic (ex - Lady Gaga in 2007 before she was Lady Gaga!) or it can be a buzzkill if the artist isn't ready for their shot at fame or if the sound mixing is bad.  For us, all the shows we took in were better than expected - Tessa Violet, Teirra Whack, Party Favor, Matoma and 21 Savage.  It set the mood for an evening to remember! 

With a Little Help From Their Friends
Unexpected music collaborations and guest appearances are always a nice touch for live shows and Friday proved just that.  Childish Gambino (one of the headliners on Friday) dropped in on 21 Savage's song Monster.  That was pretty rad, but another guest appearance really stood out.

We had a slight hunch last week that Death Cab for Cutie might call out Chicago's very own Chance the Rapper to perform their new single off his album (The Big Day) which was released on July 26th.  As suspected, this unusual collaboration materialized into a "historic" moment at Lolla:

We actually thought we might have two Chance the Rapper guest appearances as he has a well documented friendship with Childish Gambino.  He actually appeared at his Gambino's Coachella show earlier this year.  Seemed like a natural fit in Chance's hometown and with him in the "building".  Maybe Chance took in the show, but there was no sightings or anything.

A New Lolla Surrogate?
While we were hoping for two Chance sightings - a different and better thought crossed our mind.  Wouldn't it be perfect if Chance the Rapper took the reigns from Perry Farrell as the face of the festival.  

No offense to Perry Farrell - who is a legend and the visionary for Lolla - but most of the crowd probably doesn't even know who Jane's Addiction is (if you don't that's ok you can click here).  

Similar to Farrell, Chance is known as a lover of all music genres (just look at his aforementioned collaboration with Death Cab for Cutie above).  He is a talented, powerful musician in his prime and has a history at Lolla.   

Oh and he's a CHICAGOAN!  

There are likely some business complications that would prevent this, but just saying - give Chance a chance.

This is America
While Friday was a glorious day at Lolla, one of the biggest takeaways didn't happen until Sunday morning and wasn't as rosy.  Gambino's headlining performance was truly unique and special.  If it had to be described, stir up some James Brown showmanship, add some Parliament-Funk groove, a little Outkast genre-bending flow and a sprinkle of raw Prince sensuality for good measure.  It was a performance, not a music show - a theatrical performance!

He told us he was taking us to "church" and in the moment you nod your head, scream "preach" or do whatever you do.  The entire set was an experience - new songs, old songs, songs that everyone knew and songs that only some did. It didn't matter - they all worked.  

But...he had to play This is America - his popular, controversial song and violent video that many credit as an artistic masterpiece that encourages dialogue around what's happening in our country.  The bi-polar song touches on many subjects, but one key one is gun violence.  In the context of Lollapalooza it's strange - a sea of (generally) privileged people bouncing to the beat and likely oblivious to the song's message (if you want a primer on the message click here or here).  

But the show went on...another unfortunate metaphor to how our country deals with mass shootings.

Waking up to the Sunday morning headlines of two mass shootings in less than 24 hours - first 20 dead in El Paso followed by 9 in Dayton.  While these get the headlines because they're heinous acts with many casualties, let's not forget 5 miles west of Lollapalooza and the Sloop 7 people were shot in Douglas Park on Saturday night.

It's crazy, but this is America.  What's it going to take for something to be done?  

As Childish Gambino's song suggests "...ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody, you go tell somebody..."

It's easy to tell somebody, but we need to #DoSomething...  

This has to change.

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