Lollapalooza opening day kicks off with a bang, ends with Metallica fireworks show


Sydney Laput

Ashnikko points the microphone towards the crowd at the Coinbase stage during her performance of her song “STUPID (feat. Yung Baby Tate) on Thursday. The first day of Lollapalooza featured 48 sets from artists with Metallica as Thursday’s headliners.

By Sydney Wood and Aidan Sadovi

Lollapalooza is back for its 31st year, and this time, without COVID-19 restrictions. 

The festival opened on Thursday with a total of 48 sets from artists across Grant Park’s nine stages. The day’s weather resembled a typical summer day in the Windy City, with gentle winds carrying the ever-present scent of weed and vape pens. 

Thursday’s fashion trend leaned toward brightly colored, neon outfits, floral patterns and — in accordance with one of the festival’s bigger headlining sets happening that night — Metallica merch.

Here’s a rundown of what festivalgoers had to say about Lollapalooza’s opening day. 

Lollapalooza fanatics discover new artists like Mills

For Samm Kaiser of Evanston, attending Lollapalooza every year is a tradition. Her friend, Lane Bohrer, mentioned the festival is a “religious holiday” for Kaiser, which the duo said is a common joke among their friends. 

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“I just have so much fun every year,” Kaiser said. “It’s kind of a meme among my friends that I don’t shut up about Lollapalooza. I get made fun of for it, but I’m a big concert person and a big music festival. It’s just always been a good time.” 

At the time, the two were waiting for folk-pop-rap artist Mills to kick off his 1 p.m. set at the BMI stage. Back in June, they decided to study for the artists performing at Lollapalooza this year and began listening to one new artist each day. 

“Mills was the third or fourth artist we listened to, and we just really liked him,” Kaiser said. “I’m from the Midwest, he’s from the Midwest. He has acoustic — really good vibes. So yeah, we’re excited.” 

The duo said they hoped that Mills would play “Five N’ Dime” off his latest album, “Final Thoughts.”

“It’s like a funky-country acoustic, I really like it,” she said.

Later during the show when Mills announced the tune, both Kaiser and Bohrer cheered. 

Still Woozy plays Lollapalooza, says he’s getting married after 

Ella DePasquale of Warrenville, Ill., waited near the T-Mobile stage yesterday afternoon in anticipation of Still Woozy’s 4:15 p.m. set. She said it’s her second time watching him perform live, that she likes the energy he puts into performing. 

“I feel like he got into the singing and dancing, and he really felt the vibe with the crowd too,” she said. “He understood his environment and how to entertain them.”  

Still Woozy dances on stage during his performance at the T-Mobile stage on Thursday. (Sydney Laput)

Still Woozy’s dancing made a comeback during his set on the T-Mobile stage, highlighting his charismatic yet quirky stage presence. He played tunes from his latest album “If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is,” like “That’s Life” and “Get Down,” along with some older songs like “Goodie Bag” and “Habit.”

At one point, he called surprise guest Remi Wolf on stage, and the two performed their song “Pool” and a cover of Drake’s “One Dance.”

Around halfway through the show, Still Woozy announced that after his set, he was getting on a plane and marrying his fiance, who goes by Cooks. Afterward, he played “Cooks” — a fitting tribute to his lover. 

Ebony Ward — a Chicagoan tattoo artist who goes by Medusa Artist — brought her hula hoop to Thursday’s festival. 

“I came with my friends,” she said. “I really only bought a ticket today to see Metallica. I brought my hoop because I was like, ‘I’m gonna just go around and do whatever feels good.’”

After she found a hula hoop on a train three years ago, Ward has been hooping ever since. 

“It just feels really freeing, like, hearing the music,” she said. “Whenever I hoop, I’m kind of just doing whatever feels right for my body. I’m not really thinking about it, so it feels really good to just have fun and do some s*** and not really think about it.”

As a native Chicagoan, Ward said she appreciates how the festival brings in tons of tourists, along with its placement in relation to students going back to school in the fall. 

“I feel like Lolla is really great because it’s really the end-of-the-summer smash,” she said. “Like, you just party hard, and then after that it’s August, and August is typically — in Chicago — when people start to go back to school, so you end it hard, and it goes out with a bang.”

100 gecs play characteristically chaotic set, convert a new fan or two along the way

Will Lorilla’s first experience with 100 gecs would probably be familiar to anyone who first stumbles upon them: incredulity. 

“I was like, ‘What the f***is this?,’” Lorilla said. 

After the first stages, though, Lorilla — like the myriad audience members who came to watch the enigmatic hyper-pop duo of Dylan Brady and Laura Les — became a convert. 

“I only saw 10 mins of that, but I would sit through 60 more minutes of that any day,” he said. 

Lorilla said a friend took him to see 100 gecs, but he only caught the last 10 minutes of an explosive set that got so loud, distorted and powerful that a light fixture on the ceiling of the Tito’s Handmade Vodka stage fell off its rigging, hanging by a wire.  Such discordant noise is 100 gecs’ brand, as the duo is known for their harsh yet catchy hip-hop and pop punk sound — a style matched by their brutal lyrics. 

100 Gecs performs at the Tito’s Handmade Vodka stage singing “Doritos & Fritos” on Thursday. (Sydney Laput)

Les and Brady entered the stage to a packed-to-the-gills crowd in some of their more common attire: wizard hats and robes. 

From there they ran through newer songs like “Doritos & Fritos,” “I Got My Tooth Removed” and “mememe” before ending with older crowd favorites like “Money Machine,” and “Hand Crushed by a Mallet.” 

For most of the show, the bass radiating from the speakers bristled through the crowd. 

The show within the show was the corner-of-the-mouth humor that the crowd ate up. 

“If you, uh, have a phone,” Les said to the crowd, “say f*** yeah.”

Later, the duo would launch T-shirts to the crowd with a two-handed slingshot.

“They’re just wild … ” Donovan Tuttle, an attendee from Nebraska, said. “I don’t know how their music is popular, but their performances are so good.”

Lil Baby provides opportunity to thank and make friends, new and old

Three friends — two from the Maryland area, and one from Wisconsin — attended the Lil Baby concert on Thursday night at Lollapalooza’s Bud Light Seltzer stage. 

Though not the biggest fans of the Atlanta rapper, the opportunity to see him was too good for them to pass up.

Artist Lil Baby sings at the Bud Light Seltzer stage on Thursday. (Sydney Laput)

“I’ve been here before, so I brought them with me,” Max Duray said, pointing to his two friends on the lawn beside him, “so they could experience it.” 

The idea of friendship — both new and old — was prominent at the show. 

Before he introduced his song “My Dawg,” Lil Baby encouraged the audience to drape a hand around the companions they came with before proclaiming, “That’s my dawg,” for all to hear. 

Lighters and joints were passed among strangers, partners and friends. Some people went out their way to make sure the experience they were having could be shared equally with others. 

A stumbling attendee shook hands and exchanged a pat or two on the back and some friendly words with a fan in front of him near the middle section of the field. 

Someone asked the fan, “Do you know that guy?” 

The fan shook their head and smiled. 

Fans say they hope Ashnikko plays her most mainstream tunes during festival set

Ashnikko dances on stage during her performance on the Coinbase stage at Lollapalooza on Thursday. (Sydney Laput)

As Julia Mosier and Zhia Martin sat near the Coinbase stage in preparation for Ashnikko’s evening performance, Mosier talked about what it was like to attend Lollapalooza for the first time. 

“It’s crazy,” she said. “I’m getting pushed around everywhere, but it’s fun overall.”

Martin said her favorite Ashnikko song is “Daisy” but said she’d be happy to hear any of her tunes during the set. Some fan favorites include “Slumber Party” and “Deal With It (feat. Kelis).”

“Anyone (of them) will do,” Martin said. “Anyone will do. I hope she plays, like, a lot of her mainstream songs because they’re the best ones to me.” 

Ashnikko started off her set with some of her most popular tunes, like “Tantrum,” “STUPID (feat. Yung Baby Tate)” and “Working Bitch.” Her animatronic-like dance moves evoked cheers from the audience, as many sang along to the lyrics. 

Ashnikko paused her set before changing the stage’s backboard to say, “F*** The Supreme Court,” expressing her anger and frustration at the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade. 

Metallica brings heavy metal to Lollapalooza, fans return same energy 

Rafaci Rodriguez said he’s been listening to Metallica for more than 15 years, yet Thursday night was his first time seeing the band live. 

“I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve kind of always wanted to see them. I’ve never really had the chance to before.”

Luckily, the band played his favorite song of theirs’ — “Enter Sandman” — and some other tunes Rodriguez said he was hoping to hear, like “Master of Puppets.” 

Metallica played a head-banging set with songs like “Whiplash,” “Dirty Window” and “Fade to Black.” Lead vocalist James Hetfield also brought his humor to the stage, making jokes like, “Hello, are you having fun? Well, knock it off.” 

The members of Metallica tricked the audience near the end of the band’s performance by acting as if the set was done for the night. After a few chants of “encore, encore,” the band returned to the stage to play a few more tunes. 

Metallica ended the night with a fiery outro complete with a fireworks display, showing that the band’s ‘surprise encore’ was definitely planned. 


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