Young love and teen spirit were fully on display for the first day of Lollapalooza on Thursday.
The 2018 edition of the Chicago-based fest saw performances from a number of acts, but many of the standouts were on the younger end of the age scale, such as Travis Scott, Khalid, Billie Eilish, Jaden Smith, LANY, Camila Cabello, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. Combined, the aforementioned acts have a median age of 22.
Pop trio and Variance favorite LANY drew an adoring crowd for their afternoon set, with thousands of young fans singing every word along with frontman Paul Klein. When he announced the band was about to perform their new song "Thru These Tears," which has only been out for about two weeks, onlookers didn't even flinch before quickly joining in.
On the other side of Grant Park, newcomer Billie Eilish—one of Variance's 2018 FutureSounds picks—was treating an ecstatic gathering of fans to a riveting, high-energy performance, as she flowed seamlessly from intimate pop ballads to head-banging thrashers. Some might think rock is dead, but 16-year-old Eilish seems to be proving that opinion to be a little bit premature.
Over on the American Eagle Stage, Jaden Smith delivered an intense, at times emotional performance, while also showcasing sharp verses. Of course, he also brought out guests like Norwegian producer Lido as well as buddy Harry Hudson, before suddenly disappearing from the stage.
Later in the day, Camila Cabello dazzled the Grant Park Stage, wearing a layered pearl choker necklace with a velvet blue jacket, giving off some serious Prince vibes, as she conquered the stage with dominance, proving to any doubters why the former Fifth Harmony member (who has been opening for Taylor Swift's stadium tour) continues her steady rise to what seems like a mammoth pop star future.
Continuing the youthful representation was A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, whose tour DJ repeatedly reminded fans escaping the heat under the many surrounding trees that anything is possible and, like the 22-year-old rapper, your dreams can also come true. It was an encouraging reminder as A Boogie treated the crowd to quick renditions of his numerous fan favorites.
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One of the biggest reps of teen spirit was easily Khalid, the young El Paso, Texas singer who has rocketed to stardom over the past two years—and whose debut album is literally titled American Teen.
He opened his set on the massive Bud Light Stage with "8TEEN," on which he declares: "I've never fell in love / I saved those feelings for you / So let's do all the stupid shit that young kids do." And perhaps rather appropriate for the "American teen," it was a young and diverse crowd gathered to watch—and dance. So many kids twirling around as if they didn't have a care in the world.
Coming just hours after White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders outright declined to say the press is not the "enemy of the people" as concerns over America's longterm future continue to swirl thanks to the activities of the current Oval Office occupant, it was a refreshing reminder that there's an entire generation coming up whose hopes and dreams have yet to be realized.
The whimsical, carefree mood continued into the night as Travis Scott followed Khalid just after nightfall, only hours before releasing his incredible new album Astroworld. As the music began, there was a thick anticipation in the air. In addition to the looming record, the headlining performance marked a huge, full-circle moment of redemption for Scott, who just three years earlier was arrested at Lollapalooza for disorderly conduct after encouraging fans to climb over security barricades and storm the stage.
In a wild reversal, Scott, who is now a father, actually stopped mid-performance Thursday night when he noticed a fan had collapsed, demanding the crowd clear the way for paramedics to come through. Later during his set, he let a fan propose to his girlfriend onstage.
Considering Lollapalooza started 27 years ago and frequently draws headliners like Radiohead, The Cure and Red Hot Chili Peppers, the youthful day 1 experience was a notable one. Even over at the Grant Park Stage, Arctic Monkeys perhaps repped for the rock crowd, closing out the stage for the night, though frontman Alex Turner isn't exactly a baby boomer at just 32.
See photos from Lollapalooza day 1 below and follow Variance festival coverage here.