Three days into Chicago's Lollapalooza, the festival offered up perhaps its most satisfying daily roster as Grant Park seemed especially full compared to the previous two days.
Of course, the festival was buzzing with excitement for the later acts such as Post Malone, Megan Thee Stallion and Journey. But it's impossible to escape what should be a simple fact: Megan Thee Stallion should have been a headliner. (More on that in a bit.)
The day opened up strong. Los Angeles trio CANNONS, who have been a Variance favorite, opened up the T-Mobile stage with a blissful pop set ahead of their full tour, where they'll be supporting lovelytheband and Sir Sly. For their first time in Chicago, they made quite the good impression, as the crowd was singing and dancing along by the time the band wrapped.
Also, early in the afternoon, New York-based Porches delighted fans at Tito's Handmade Vodka stage with a brisk, mesmerizing set, while newcomer Rence conquered the BMI stage with an affable, dreamy performance.
Over at the Grubhub stage, Bia showcased why she continues to build buzz with big collaborations with the likes of Russ and Nicki Minaj. Her intense, theatrical set was a hit with onlookers watching from under the shade of the surrounding trees.
Cautious Clay, whose debut album Deadpan Love recently dropped, came ready with a slate full of songs—and almost just as many instruments. When we saw the singer a couple years ago at SXSW, it didn't work to have so many moving parts. But on the Lake Shore stage Saturday, it was incredible. As an artist known to wear his feelings on his sleeve, he seemed to quickly connect with the crowd, and they stayed with him.
Next, Tate McCrae was a big draw back to the Grubhub stage, and it was clear she had a number of devoted fans in the crowd waiting for her performance. Showcasing collaborations with the likes of Khalid and Troye Sivan was certainly no surprise, as an artist fast on the rise, but her skillset on her own was center stage, deservingly so. And as she closed with her breakout hit "you broke me first," it was definitive proof of her rising star as the crowd sang every single word back to her.
Meanwhile, over at T-Mobile, Young the Giant was technically priming the stage for Megan Thee Stallion, an unusual combination to be sure. But the band attracted their own massive crowd, as the grounds surrounding the stage were packed tightly, as the alt-rock favorites delivered a whimsical, summer-friendly performance.
Freddie Gibbs was perhaps the lone disappointment on Saturday, arriving late for his set and at times skipping over large chunks of verses and apparently mumbling some of the words. Granted, most artists haven't performed live in months (or years, in some cases), so we'll give Freddie some grace here.
Later on, Angels & Airwaves performed on the Lake Shore stage, with frontman Tom DeLonge raving about how excited they were to be back performing live music for actual fans. Perhaps it was a matter of being out of practice, but his introductions between songs were slightly awkward and reminiscent of a band performing their first club show. The music, however, made up for the chatter, as the crowd was rewarded immensely with plenty of nostalgic fan favorites. And the band sounded great.
The final act of the night, of course, was Post Malone, who arrived mostly on schedule, kicking off a massive string of hits with a big one, "Wow." By the time he made his grand entrance, the crowd surrounding the T-Mobile stage was already thick, and the throngs of fans were exuberant as soon as the music began and everyone recognized the song.
As many others have done over the weekend, Post Malone also joined in and celebrated the fact that he was able to be performing live once again. But he preemptively apologized for any gaffes. "If I suck ass, it’s not my fault," he said, adding: "It’s fucking Covid's fault, man!"
Thankfully, Posty found his groove quickly, offering up just the hits. It was clear he knew that's what fans were expecting, and he delivered.
And while Post Malone was certainly deserving of a headlining spot after previously performing in undercard slots and finally reaching unreal success on top 40 radio, it was Megan Thee Stallion who stood out as being in a league of her own.
Even before she took the T-Mobile stage, fans were cheering her name. And the moment she entered, the crowd was absolutely electric. This entire weekend so far, there has yet to be another act who has received the kind of enthusiastic reaction as Megan did.
There were groups of girls dancing, older ladies dancing, really feeling themselves. There were couples getting hot and heavy. A 20-something dude working his way through the crowd swiped by me and gave me a frontal grind. "I'm just looking for my girlfriend and I'm horny," he said. He chuckled. I chuckled. And from there, it was clear that not only was Megan entertaining the massive sea of fans, but she had completely changed the atmosphere.
After being homebound for over a year, many people just needed to let loose. And dance. And feel themselves. And Megan was just the person to lead the charge, as she twerked on stage, turned her back to the crowd and shook her backside at the fans, multiple times. And each time, the crowd went absolutely wild.
Some would argue the set was overtly sexualized. And sure, she managed to get some grandmas turnt. But as the Houston rapper delivered banger after banger after banger, the simple truth was obvious. Megan Thee Stallion is a magnificent entertainer. Yes, she encouraged everyone to check on their friends' well-being and keep up with their mental health, but she was there to entertain—by delighting, amusing, maybe simply distracting the crowd from the world outside Grant Park, if even for one hour.
And she succeeded. She countered any argument over her recorded vocal abilities with a mighty, confident live delivery. Case closed. And she proved that at this moment in time, there is no one hotter, no one more relevant, no one with the star power of Megan Thee Stallion.
The next time Megan Thee Stallion plays Lollapalooza, she will be a headliner. And she'll probably have even more hits and more bangers. But for us, she was our headliner. And we dare you to tell us otherwise.
See photos from Lolla day 3 below.