The Lollapalooza wrapped up Sunday in Grant Park with a lineup that included Chicago acts Horsegirl and Beach Bunny, as well as bold names Green Day and J-Hope — the latter becoming the first K-pop headliner at a major American music festival. It also ended with Mayor Lori Lightfoot announcing from the stage that contract talks with the city were complete and Lolla would stay on the lakeshore for another decade.
Overall, the four days of Chicago’s biggest music festival were both eventful, with the main stage sets of Metallica and Dua Lipa to be seen, and fewer for 2022. Despite high rates of COVID-19 locally, Lollapalooza was required by Chicago health officials and Illinois no masking or vaccination for entry.
All weekend had been anticipating an announcement with an agreement between Chicago and Texas-based C3 Presents, a division of Live Nation. The Tribune reported that the city’s amusement tax was the focus of the negotiations.
On Sunday night, festival founder Perry Farrell took to the Bud Light Seltzer stage in front of J-Hope to say he’s proud that the Lollapalooza is back at the park. He then introduced Lightfoot, who greeted the audience with a very rocking “Hello Chicago!”
Then she announced that she would continue Lollapalooza’s contract “by decree”: “For ten! More! Years!” She unfurled a banner that read 2032 at the bottom.
Earlier in the day, Jim Wright was with a group of Chicagoans watching Horsegirl at the north end of Grant Park and stood on tarmac by the Tito stage. They had heard of the young band from Chicago but had never seen them live. “It would be exciting,” he said, “to see her later in a smaller venue” — with more intimacy and less of the scorching sun overhead.
According to research firm AngelouEconomics commissioned by C3, Lollapalooza had a total impact on Chicago’s economy of $305.1 million last year. Also in 2021, the company paid $7.8 million in rents and fees to the Chicago Park District and directly and indirectly employed 16,804 workers, the report said.
According to Sunday attendance figures, Lollapalooza didn’t sell out on Thursday, but sold out on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a capacity of 100,000.
With the Chicago skyline blazing behind the Bud Light Stage, rapper Erika Banks got the crowd going wild. Festivalgoers cheered as Banks had fun alongside her audience: “I’m going to be honest with you all, I’m going to show up with you guys so hard my wig is about to take off.”
Fans entered the crowd, which was already dancing when Banks asked if she could “put girls on stage” or not.
“Yes you can, this is an Erica Banks show,” declared a male voice on stage. The rapper handpicked a slew of girls to be brought onstage to dance with her for her latest song — “Buss It,” a strip club anthem that fueled multiple TikTok trends after its release.
“Whenever my girls come on stage, I need the crowd to encourage them. So I need the crowd to yell, throw that (expletive),” Banks yelled. The crowd cheered Banks and her impromptu backup dancers for a song that began with a sample of Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.”
On the CoinBase stage, R&B singer and rapper Audrey Nuna rocked the crowd to the song “molars.” Nuna said, “I got a tooth tattooed on my leg, so I wrote this next song about teeth and feelings.”
Nuna followed with a performance of the singles “Souffle” and “Blossom,” ending the latter song by exclaiming, “Shoutout to my Grandma for being on this song with me.” At the end of “Blossom,” Nuna’s grandmother’s voice is up Hearing Korean – Nuna has previously explained that her work is inspired by her grandmother.
Although Bianca Lopez, who attended Lollapalooza for the first time since the pandemic, had never heard Nuna’s music, she said she could call herself a fan by the end of the set.
“I stayed here with my friends who came here pretty early because they wanted to camp (before J-Hope). It shows that audiences like different artists and I think we should diversify Lolla a little bit more, like more Latino artists, more Asian artists,” Lopez said.
Manuel Osario, who attended Nuna’s performance with Lopez, noted a less chaotic Lollapalooza experience this year.
“It’s definitely a lot more relaxed this year. I feel like it was before the pandemic, it was pretty hectic in terms of the crowd of people and how the interactions were on stages. I just remember a few years ago when 21 Savage came along we weren’t even up front and it was like the crowd of people couldn’t even breathe. And I feel like now it’s a little bit more like people give you your space unless you’re at the front.”
However, swelling fans in front of the stages interrupted the sets of Chicago rapper Lil Durk and Big Sean on Saturday. Both the performers and managers on the Solana x Perry and T-Mobile stages took steps to get the crowd to stand back and make room while security guards pulled out those in need.
“We don’t want anyone to faint. We don’t want dead people,” Sean said. “We want this to be 100% safe.”
Attention to audience safety comes after tragedy at Houston’s Astroworld music festival last year when 10 fans died in a crowd that packed to see rapper Travis Scott.
Also Lil Durk reported on social media that he was injured by pyrotechnics during his set; Videos show him covering his face with his shirt after what appeared to be stage explosions going off in front of him. He later posted photos of his blindfolded eye. “Due to the incident that happened onstage at the Lollapalooza in Chicago, I’m taking a break and focusing on my health,” he wrote.
Safety was another Lollapalooza issue, as the festival came less than a month after the July 4th mass shooting in Highland Park. The police were constantly present inside and outside the fence, albeit mainly in the background (as of 2021, the city’s Bureau of Emergency Management did not release figures on arrests or medical transports until after the festival). Along with uniformed police officers walking and biking the grounds, officers in camouflaged Polaris vehicles labeled as FBI and counterterrorism teams patrol. Although not authorized to speak officially, a Tribune official said they had also been to the Lollapalooza in previous years.
The Tribune has heard anecdotally of several cases of pickpocketing at the festival. Luke Laurence, a student at the University of Chicago at Lollapalooza who is assigned to help report for the student newspaper Chicago Maroon, said his phone was taken from his pocket in a mosh pit for the 100 Gecs on Thursday before realizing what had happened. He knew of other people who had also lost phones.
When he went to the Apple Store in Lincoln Park for a replacement, the staff was adept at advising him.
“They told me go to AT&T to get a new SIM card first and then come back,” Laurence said. “They said, ‘We’ve been on this all day.'”
Los Angeles indie band The Marías were a major draw on the Tito stage late in the afternoon, opening with a sultry live version of “Calling U Back” from their 2021 album Cinema.
“This is our first Lollapalooza,” said lead singer María Zardoya to cheers. “It’s my first time visiting Lollapalooza. We are the Marías, thank you very much!”
Farrell was formerly on T-Mobile’s main stage with Porno for Pyros, providing an electric set. Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan joined him as a guest; Farrell had joined Corgan for a benefit concert for Highland Park on July 27th and the two have announced a tour together beginning this fall, with Farrell fronting his band Jane’s Addiction.
Farrell apparently snubbed Lightfoot’s announcement earlier this week, telling WGN-TV that a contract extension had been reached. Both C3 and the city then backtracked on his disclosure.
Also on Sunday, Italian rock band Måneskin informed their T-Mobile audience that Lollapalooza was the band’s first time in Chicago: “This is our first time here, I have to say we (expletively) love this city… and weed is legal. … It’s a dream come true for us Italians.” At another point in their set, the band’s lead singer Damiano David declared that the band “stands by Ukraine” before performing their new single “Gasoline”, which is a protest song in honour written in Ukraine.
The end of the weekend belonged to J-Hope and Green Day.
After an unfortunate intro featuring a badly soiled bunny as the hype man, Green Day emerged to thunderous applause to begin with a full-bodied “American Idiot,” Billie Joe Armstrong in a Metro t-shirt.
Clarification: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Erica Banks’ name.