Lollapalooza comes to a close with a big day for J-Hope

Lollapalooza came to a close Sunday in Grant Park with a lineup that included Chicago acts Horsegirl and Beach Bunny and end-of-the-night boldface names Green Day and J-Hope — the latter the first K-pop headliner of a major American music festival . It also ended with Mayor Lori Lightfoot announcing from the stage that contract talks with the city had been resolved, with Lolla to remain on the lakefront for another decade.

Overall, the four days of Chicago’s biggest music fest were both eventful, with wish-you-could-have-seen-them main stage sets by Metallica and Dua Lipa, and less so for 2022. Despite high rates of COVID-19 locally, Lollapalooza did not require masking or vaccination for entry, following the lead of the Chicago and Illinois departments of public health.

All weekend long, an announcement had been anticipated with an agreement between Chicago and Texas-based C3 Presents, a division of Live Nation. The Tribune reported that the city’s amusement tax had been central to negotiations.

Sunday night, fest founder Perry Farrell took the Bud Light Seltzer stage before J-Hope to say he was proud Lollapalooza was back in the park. He then introduced Lightfoot, who greeted the audience with a very rockstar “Hello Chicago!”

She then announced that “by decree,” Lollapalooza’s contract would continue: “For ten! More! Years!” She unfurled a banner with 2032 inscribed at the bottom.

Earlier in the day, Jim Wright was with a group of Chicagoans watching Horsegirl on the north end of Grant Park, standing on the asphalt at Tito’s stage. They had heard about the young Chicago band but hadn’t seen them live before. “It would be exciting,” he said, “to see them later in a smaller venue” — with more intimacy and less baking sun overhead.

Lollapalooza had a total impact on the Chicago economy of $305.1 million last year, according to a study by research company AngelouEconomics that was commissioned by C3. It also paid $7.8 million in rent and fees in 2021 to the Chicago Park District, and “directly and indirectly employed 16,804 workers,” stated the report.

According to attendance figures provided Sunday, Lollapalooza did not sell out Thursday but did on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a capacity crowd of 100,000 attendees.

With Chicago’s skyline beaming behind the Bud Light Stage, rapper Erica Banks had the crowd roaring. Festivalgoers cheered as Banks had fun alongside her audience: “I’m gonna be honest with y’all, I’m turnin’ up with y’all so hard that my wig is about to lift off.”

Fans entered the crowd already dancing as Banks asked whether or not she could “bring girls onstage.”

“Yes you can, this is an Erica Banks show,” a male voice declared on the stage. The rapper scouted out a line of girls who were brought onto the stage to dance with her for her final song — “Buss it,” a strip club anthem that fueled several TikTok trends after its release.

“Whenever my girls come onstage, 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 background 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 had the crowd swaying side to side in unison to the song “molars.” Nuna said, “I have a tattoo of a tooth on my leg so I wrote this next song about teeth and feelings.”

Nuna followed with a performance of 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 can be heard speaking in Korean — Nuna has previously stated that her work is inspired by her grandmother.

Despite never having heard Nuna’s music, Bianca Lopez, who was attending Lollapalooza for the first time since the pandemic, said she could call herself a fan by the end of the set.

“I was here with my friends who came here kind of early because they wanted to camp out (before J-Hope). It goes to show that the audience does like diverse 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 of a chill vibe this year. I feel like pre-pandemic, it was pretty hectic in terms of the amount of people and just how the interactions were on stages. I just remember a few years ago when 21 Savage came we weren’t even right at the front and it was like, the amount of people you couldn’t even breathe. And I feel like now it’s a little bit more like people give you your space unless you’re right at the front.”

That said, on Saturday surging fans in front of stages interrupted sets from both Chicago rapper Lil Durk and Big Sean. Both the artists and managers at the Solana x Perry’s and T-Mobile stages, respectively, took steps to have the crowds step back and make room as security pulled out those in distress.

“We don’t want anyone passing out. We don’t want no deaths,” Sean said. “We want this here to be 100% safe.”

The attention to audience safety comes after a tragedy at the Astroworld music festival in Houston last year, when 10 fans died in an overpacked crowd to see rapper Travis Scott.

Also, Lil Durk reported on social media that he was injured by pyrotechnics during his set; videos show him holding his shirt to his face after stage explosions apparently went off in front of him. He later posted photos of his eyes bandaged. “Due to the incident that happened at Lollapalooza in Chicago on stage, I’ma take a break & focus on my health,” he wrote.

Security has been another Lollapalooza topic, with the festival coming less than a month after the Fourth of July mass shooting in Highland Park. Police have been a constant, if mostly background, presence inside the fence and out (since 2021, the city’s Office of Emergency Management has not released figures about arrests or medical transports until after the festival). Along with uniformed police walking and biking the grounds, there have been officers on Polaris vehicles patrolling in camouflage, badged as FBI and Counter-Terrorism teams. Although not authorized to speak on the record, an officer told the Tribune they’d been at Lollapalooza in past years as well.

The Tribune has learned anecdotally of multiple instances of pickpocketing at the festival. Luke Laurence, a student at the University of Chicago at Lollapalooza to help report for the Chicago Maroon student newspaper, said his phone was taken from his pocket in a mosh pit for the 100 Gecs on Thursday before he realized what had happened. He knew of other people who also had lost phones.

When he went to the Apple store in Lincoln Park for a replacement, the staff was well-versed to advise him.

“They told me, first go to AT&T to get a new SIM card, then come back,” Laurence said. “They said, ‘We’ve been dealing with this all day.'”

Los Angeles indie band The Marías were a major draw late in the afternoon on Tito’s stage, opening with a sultry live take on “Calling U Back” from their 2021 album “Cinema.”

“This is our first Lollapalooza,” said lead singer María Zardoya to cheers. “This is my first time attending Lollapalooza. We’re the Marías, thank you so much!”

Farrell was earlier on the T-Mobile mainstage with Porno for Pyros, delivering 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 27 and the two have announced a joint tour starting this fall, with Farrell fronting his band Jane’s Addiction.

Farrell apparently spilled the beans on Lightfoot’s announcement earlier this week, telling WGN-TV that a contract extension had been reached. Both C3 and the city subsequently walked back his disclosure.

Also Sunday, Italian rock band Måneskin informed its T-Mobile audience that Lollapalooza was the band’s first time in Chicago: “It’s our first time here for us, I gotta say we (expletive) love this city … and weed is legal. … For us Italians, it’s a dream come true.” At another point in their set, the band’s lead singer Damiano David declared that the band “stands with Ukraine” before performing their new single “Gasoline,” which was written as a protest song in Ukraine’s honor.

End of the weekend belonged to J-Hope and Green Day.

After an unfortunate intro with a badly soiled rabbit as hype man, Green Day came out to thunderous applause to begin with a full-bore “American Idiot,” Billie Joe Armstrong dressed in a Metro T-shirt.

Clarification: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Erica Banks’ name.

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