After a first day anchored in young love and teen spirit, day 2 of Lollapalooza on Friday saw the magic shining through.
The day featured a wide scope of acts, from Bruno Mars to BROCKHAMPTON, from Dermot Kennedy to Tyler, the Creator, and from Lizzo to Lauv to Jungle. With the sun shining bright above, Grant Park was all lit up with an impressive display of talent.
The strength was first on display early in the day as newcomer Clairo dazzled fans with her small but impeccable catalog. Currently in the middle of her first headlining tour, she buzzed around the Tito's Handmade Vodka Stage as delivered a blissful performance, likely marking the first time both devoted fans and the uninitiated had seen her perform live.
Continuing with a magic of his own, rising singer Dermot Kennedy offered up an entrancing set, including a number of his standout cuts such as "Glory," "Moments Passed" and "Young & Free." He's undoubtedly on track to follow in the paths of predecessors like Hozier and Sam Smith, all with their own massive, powerhouse vocals.
Friday afternoon was bursting with pop, as Bebe Rexha took a break from her busy schedule and staggering recent 35-week record atop the country music charts to take over the Lake Shore Drive Stage. Meanwhile, Lauv made his Lolla debut, coming as his single "I Like Me Better" has become a fast-rising radio hit, giving fans a magnetic performance which was at times intimate and rowdy.
Pop continued its reign as Lizzo took Tito's Stage and gave a performance that was beyond "Good as Hell." Clearly having grown accustomed to the crown she has rightfully earned, she delivered a lively, colorful performance, coming as this week she confirmed her new album is officially done.
Later on the same stage, The Neighbourhood performed for a massive, overflowing crowd as they treated fans to some of their earlier material as well as offerings from their new, self-titled album, which was released in March. Fans sang along with frontman Jesse Rutherford and then welcomed him with open arms as he later crowd surfed wearing only a pair of jeans and boots.
In a somewhat magical moment of its own, Tyler, the Creator helmed an afternoon slot on the main stage (Grant Park) and revealed a seemingly more subdued version of himself compared to some past festival appearances. It was a more mature artist commanding the stage on Friday, frequently conversing with the crowd, at one point stating his appreciation for fans enduring the heat to join him.
Over at the Bud Light Stage, even more fans braved the heat and lack of shade to crowd in for Post Malone, who came in wearing a two-piece graffiti-covered jumper-like outfit, while offering up low-tempo and noisy renditions of his most familiar songs, while also giving onlookers a preview of what they might expect should he return in a few years to headline on the same stage.
Meanwhile, over the American Eagle Stage, BROCKHAMPTON made one of their first live appearances following the departure of Ameer Vann, who left the band after multiple sexual misconduct and physical abuse allegations. Coming after a string of recent new releases, it was a moment for the ensemble to prove to fans the magic isn't lost. And the crowd seemed to approve.
Making their return to Lollapalooza after a four-year gap, British outfit Jungle perhaps had a similar but very different task of proving themselves, having not lost a member but instead growing from a duo into a seven-piece since their last visit to Grant Park. Ahead of their upcoming new album, the band showed why they're undeniably one of the most underrated bands right now. Unfortunately, they were opposite one of the biggest acts on the planet.
And that brings us to Bruno Mars, who was most certainly all about the magic—the 24K Magic, specifically. And while some might argue his presence on the festival circuit is an odd match, he proved to be more than worthy as a Lolla headliner, especially as it skews younger and more pop-friendly, drawing an incredibly massive audience to the Grant Park Stage, perhaps as large as Chance the Rapper's audience last year. Maybe even larger.
Mars wisely opened with "Finesse," surrounded by colorful flashing lights and fireworks, getting the song out of the way at the top of set and making clear Cardi B—who appears on the remix but is still on maternity hiatus—wouldn't be making a surprise appearance after dropping out of Mars' upcoming tour to continue her recovery and stay with her newborn baby.
About four songs into his set, he made a crack about getting political, dividing the crowd into left and right sides and then challenging the two sections to compete with cheers. But Mars wasn't there for politics. He was there solely to entertain. And that he did, with an hour-and-a-half set running through hit after hit after hit, attracting the overwhelming majority of Lolla attendees to pack into any crevice with even a slight glimpse of the stage.