Posted August 1, 2015 by Jeff in Tunes

2015 Lollapalooza Day One


While Lollapalooza has become such a popular destination festival that tickets sell out before the lineup is even announced, that doesn’t mean that the music is an afterthought. Day One of this year’s installment was as strong as ever. Headliner Paul McCartney was clearly thrilled to be playing the festival, telling fans, “We were looking forward to coming here and we were right.” His two-hour set started strong with “Magical Mystery Tour” and included an acoustic segment that would have sounded better if the bass from Perry’s Stage, which was hosting the electronic act Kaskade, hadn’t interfered with McCartney’s performance. Still, McCartney soldiered on, joking that he intended to deliver a mashup of “what I’m playing and whatever that shit is that they’re playing.” With the exception of a snippet of “FourFiveSeconds” that sounded a little off, McCartney delivered a sharp 30-song set that featured songs by both the Beatles and Wings. His stripped down rendition of “Eleanor Rigby” was simply beautiful as two of his bandmates stepped away from their instruments to accompany him on vocals. “Band on the Run” rocked hard and an acoustic rendition of “Blackbird” had a simmering intensity.

On the opposite end of Grant Park, The Weeknd, the Canadian R&B singer otherwise known as Able Tesfaye, held its own even though it was playing at the same time as a Beatle. Channeling R&B/pop singers such as Michael Jackson and Prince, Tesfaye’s soulful voice really resonated as he performed from a multi-tiered stage.

Prior to McCartney’s set, the day featured a number of other highlights. While temperatures hovered close to 90 and plenty of concert-goers had trouble with the heat, the bands didn’t seem to suffer too much from the extreme temps. Cold War Kids delivered a solid set that started strong with one of their best songs, “Miracle Mile” and included the manic “Something is Not Right with Me.”  Led by feisty singer Brittany Howard, Alabama Shakes drew from soul, rock and gospel during a strong set that suggested the band is ready to make the transition from club act to a band that can play mid-sized venues. Blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. played to a much bigger crowd at his last Lollapalooza appearance and his low-key performance suggested he’s better suited to small clubs, even if his unbridled guitar playing suggests he has some of what Stevie Ray Vaughan had. British rockers Glass Animals aspire to Radiohead-like art rock but singer Dave Bayley doesn’t have the stage presence to pull it off. Still, the band expertly executed the jittery tune “Gooey,” which featured falsetto vocals and delicate instrumentation.

A dance pop band that needed a few more hooks in its songs, MS MR deserves credit for putting on a colorful, high-energy performance. With her pink hair, feathery white sweater and huge black and white boots, singer Lizzy Plapinger looked the part of a diva. If she doesn’t have the vocal power to always pull it off, we can cut her some slack because she seemed to have such a great time performing. The same couldn’t be said for singer Tove Lo, whose sterile performance was one of the day’s lowlights. Sure, she has some club hits — “Habits (I Stay High)” and “Talking Body,” to name a few, but those songs didn’t translate well to the festival setting. Her dance moves consisted of taking one arm and waving it front of her (as if she just didn’t care).

Click here to see a Whopperjaw gallery of highlights from 2015 Lollapalooza Day One.


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].