Kurt Vile & the Violators- When Kurt Vile initially toured to support his latest solo endeavor, B’lieve I’m Down, he primarily focused on the acoustic elements of his performance. This direction suited his pair of dates at Thalia Hall last October, since it’s an intimate venue that can donate the silence needed to fully digest their introspective nature. That atmosphere is more difficult to capture in a festival environment, though. In an interview with 93XRT at Lollapalooza on Thursday, Vile confirmed that, stating, “The songs that seem kind of simple, they’re deceptively tough to play live.”
As a result, Vile and his Violators assembled a setlist of their loudest rock songs that showed off the sound system of the Petrillo Music Shell very well. Vile never took a solo acoustic moment during the set, but showed off a variety of tracks from many of his albums, even some material released before his breakthrough album Smoke Ring for My Halo drew critical acclaim in 2011. The set’s most peaceful moment, “Goldtone”, satisfied the gloomy atmosphere from the rain storm and gave the audience an opportunity to explore the “deep, dark depths of [their] soul tones.” He dedicated its craziest moment “to all of the kids out there” with “Freak Train”, a track that abandons Vile’s chill demeanor for a crazed and whacky one.
AlunaGeorge– If you take a look at the press for AlunaGeorge’s new album, I Remember, George is nowhere to be see in most press photos, aside from the ambiguous male silhouette on its album cover. That absence was also observed during their Lollapalooza performance Thursday afternoon, but Aluna and her live band played an impressive and dancey set to distract you from focusing on the small details.
Aluna’s new artistic direction shows her off as a strong, independent woman that’s “in control”, and her voice successfully towered over the loud EDM beats built into many songs from I Remember. The electronic focus surely appeased Lollapalooza attendees and shows that she’s capturing a perfect market for her next album, given her most successful collaboration to date on Disclosure’s “White Noise”. Her live band fueled these beats with enough life to create an entertaining live performance, which included a live drummer, keyboardist/DJ (most likely George’s tour replacement), and two dancers who twerked during many of her celebratory girl-power anthems.
One odd piece of the performance were Aluna’s performance of tracks from Body Music, AlunaGeorge’s debut album. “Attracting Flies” and “You Know You Like It” were performed using the DJ Snake and Baauer remixes, respectively, which makes this writer assume that their original compositions may be lost in the past. While nothing is confirmed of George’s involvement with the group, let’s hope his sexy R&B production will still be apart of the duo’s excellent pop direction in the future.
Cashmere Cat– Even though Lollapalooza was often celebrated for being a premiere rock music festival in the past, this year’s lineup show’s that the tables have turned in favor of EDM. It seemed like an EDM act graced the stages of Thursday lineup for a majority of the day. Not every act was loaded with gnarly bass drops, though, and Cashmere Cat played a fun set that explored a variety of electronic moods.
As black-and-white videos of gorgeous mountains and hidden caves played on the screen behind him, Cashmere Cat played tracks by TNGHT, PartyNextDoor, Arianna Grande, and Kanye West (he produced the Arianna and Kanye tracks). The most impressive piece of the set was how he manipulated “Wolves” and “Waves” from West’s recent album, The Life of Pablo. The opening vocal line from “Wolves” was twisted into many different keys to accommodate the new beats Cashmere Cat included in the mix and served as one of the most memorable elements of his set.
Lana Del Rey– In the nine years I have attended Lollapalooza, Lana Del Rey is the slowest headliner I have ever seen take the stage as a headliner, and for that, it was stunning. Lana is an artist built on her natural calm and beauty, and everything about her set allowed those elements to glow and be admired in a new way.
Considering these peaceful elements, Del Rey’s headlining set required more focus than the evening’s other artists to fully absorb and appreciate. She sings like she breathes— she performs effortlessly, even when she explores the very lows and high of her range. Her song’s lyrics of “summertime sadness”, heartbreak, and unique femininity definitely didn’t pick up the mood of the crowd, but it seemed like everyone was okay with ending the night on a sullen note.
The movement on stage was also beautiful and sexy, which was simply built. Del Rey and her back-up singers exhibited sexy hip swaying and seductive hand movements that caressed the air as they would their lovers. The backing band provided the stage presence to keep the stage alive, since Del Rey stood on stage as if she were a piece of still art.
Subtlety also help Lana Del Rey define the higher points of the set. There were only two upbeat tracks, one in the middle featuring some sexy booty shaking, and the other at the end to help her set end on a high note. The crowd went wild when she picked up a guitar for “Yayo”, where she stood on stage alone and required the most silence, and “Video Games”.
Del Rey ultimately rewarded her fans for some needed patience at the end of her set, where she spent five minutes taking selfies and signing autographs for fans in the front row. Even though she isn’t most fitting artist to headline a festival loaded with partying acts, she rewarded them and everyone in attendance with the most sincere of thank-yous and a luxuriously alluring air in Grant Park.
-Sam Willett / (photo’s courtesy, Lollapalooza)