Posted August 4, 2018 by Jeff in Tunes

2018 Lollapalooza Day One – A British Invasion


At the start of this year’s incarnation of Lollapalooza, the four-day music fest that takes place annually at Chicago’s Grant Park, we caught the tail end of a set by the UK punk band Slaves. Undeterred by the sparsely filled venue, shirtless frontman Isaac Holman alternately spoke and sang while guitarist Laurie Vincent often turned his back to the crowd to face his amplifier as he let loose grunge-y blues guitar riffs. The band’s high-energy performance provided a great start to the festival even if only a few fans were there to hear it.

Other highlights from Day One included singer-songwriter Tyler Childers. Perhaps a better songwriter than performer, the red-haired, bearded country musician played with a fantastic four-piece band that gave a some heft to songs such as the moody “Deadman’s Curve.”

Wearing gold-rimmed glasses and tight white T-shirt, Curtis Harding looked the part of an old school soul singer. While Harding wasn’t as dynamic as James Brown, he still had solid songs, and his tight band gave the material a psychedelic rock edge.

Cuban-born singer Camila Cabello emphasized the Latin side of her sound in a heavily choreographed hour-long set that found her performing with dancers as she belted out hits such as “Bad Things” and “Never Be the Same.” She introduced a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Stop Falling in Love” by saying she was a “hopeless romantic,” but the set then hit a lull with the saccharine ballad “All These Years.” Things picked up the end as she played “Havana,” a tribute to her hometown.

A number of British bands played Day One, delivering noteworthy performances. The Wombats had good energy as they got fans to sing along to tracks such as “Lemon to a Knife Fight,” a jittery pop tune that frontman Matthew Murphy said was about his “favorite fruit.” Playing in front of a large banner emblazoned with its name and some retro-looking stars, Scotland’s Franz Ferdinand also put on a terrific performance. Singer-guitarist Alex Kapranos capably led the group as it played hits such as the lurching, retro-leaning garage-pop number “Take Me Out.”

Singer Lauren Mayberry’s magnetism and an enormous bank of spotlights brought the synth-pop songs of Scotland’s CHVRCHES to life.

Brit rockers Arctic Monkeys, one of two headliners, made the best of the festival’s terrific sound system and cranked up the guitars for their invigorating set that brought the day to a close. Even though singer-guitarist Alex Turner wasn’t as animated as he was when the band played Lollapalooza a few years ago, he still captivated the audience with his David Bowie-inspired vocals. However rapper Travis Scott drew an even bigger crowd on the other main stage on the opposite side of the park.

To see photos from the day click here.


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].