As with any music festival, after Lollapalooza is over, it always takes us a few days to digest everything and snap back to reality. For locals, the festival serves as a three day escape within our own city. For outsiders, it provides them with a completely unique way to experience Chicago. The magic of Lollapalooza is simply unmatched, and despite a weather scare on the final day, Lollapalooza 2015 turned out to be just as memorable as years past. On the next few pages we’ve broken down some of our lasting impressions from Lolla.


WhatSoNot Is In Capable Hands Without Flume

Back in February when Flume first announced his departure from WhatSoNot, fans started to mourn the inevitable end of the project even though Emoh Instead had been touring solo for quite some time already. Now that the initial sting of the announcement has finally begun to wear off, we can take an objective look at the situation and say that all is not lost yet. Bringing together an eclectic mix of classic remixes and unreleased material, Emoh’s set was captivating from start to finish. A surprise appearance from George Maple was the cherry on top, as she strutted out to perform their recent single, “Gemini”. Though it remains to be seen what will happen after the release of the EP, we have full confidence that WhatSoNot will continue to thrive.

@georgemaplemusic making a surprise appearance at @lollapalooza with @whatsonot_certified. #lolla #chicago #tbt

A video posted by The Music Ninja (@the_music_ninja) on

Lollapalooza 2015

(Image Credit: © Jack Edinger)

The Weeknd Is Ready To Become A Full-Fledged Pop Star

As the most prominent face of the alternative R&B movement for the past five years or so, it still seems odd to see The Weeknd‘s name accompanied by the words pop star, but deep down I think we all knew this was a possibility from the very beginning. Though shy and reserved earlier in his career, as Abel’s voice has evolved so has his larger than life persona. Now that he’s nearly a household name, The Weeknd found himself at a crossroads Friday night. With perhaps his most anticipated album right around the corner, the Canadian crooner managed to strike a balance between old and new, catering to both his Day 1 fans and those who just discovered him within the past year. As much as I loved hearing such lowkey classics as “High For This” and “The Morning”, it was clear that Abel was just as comfortable dancing around on stage to more over-the-top numbers like “Can’t Feel My Face” and “Love Me Harder”. With the recent announcement that features on Beauty Behind The Madness are slated to include Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Rey, it’s clear that 2015 will be a landmark year in shaping the trajectory of The Weeknd’s career, with his set at Lollapalooza serving as a glimpse into the future.

travis scott lolla 2015

Travi$ Scott Gives No Fucks

Travi$ Scott is one of the more polarizing figures in hip-hop: you either revere him as a creative genius or you believe he’s massively overrated. No matter where you fall on the spectrum though, it’s common knowledge that the one place to get the true Travi$ Scott experience has always been at his live shows; the man simply knows how to get wild. The Houston native certainly wasted no time in doing just that, leading fans in a chant of “We Want Rage” and urging the audience to jump the security barricades to join him on stage. Chaos quickly ensued and his set was cut short after about only five minutes, where he was then arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. There were definitely some other likely candidates to incite a riot on Saturday (Tyler, The Creator, Carnage and Metallica come to mind), but Travis decided to grab that title (and the headlines) early on in the day during his 2:15 PM performance.


(Image Credit: Alex Reside)

Toro y Moi Needed A Longer Set

It’s not until you try to pack Chaz Bundwick‘s catalogue into a one hour set that you realize just how expansive it really is. Toro tried to please everyone, playing classics from throughout his five year run, but the crowd surrounding the Palladia stage was still left wanting more by the end. A group close to me tried their best to convince their friend to leave early to head over to the next act on their schedule, but he kept pleading with them to stay because as he put it, “There’s still so many good songs he hasn’t played yet! He has too many hits!” Forced to start late because Sturgill Simpson‘s performance across the way ran over the limit, Toro’s set was plagued by sound balancing issues early on. The band began to hit their stride midway through though with their live rendition of “Rose Quartz”, carrying a funky groove with them right up until their rambunctious finale.


(Image Credit: Greg Noire)

Kid Cudi Is A Rockstar

Even since the early days of his career, I never felt comfortable labeling Kid Cudi as a rapper. Though his roots are certainly in hip-hop, he never really fit the mold of your traditional rapper and it seemed as if he always aspired to be more. Much has been made about Cudi’s demise in recent years, from his failed side-project WZRD to the lackluster reviews of his last album, Indicud. The Cleveland native has faced endless criticism from fans and detractors who complain about him experimenting with live instrumentation and abandoning his synthy, space-age sound.

If you saw the crowd at Lollapalooza though, you wouldn’t believe any of that negative chatter ever existed. Cudi easily drew in one of the largest audiences of the weekend, a fact that he took notice of early on which seemed to fuel his energy. It was clear Cudi was in his zone throughout, as his eyes would light up with a fire and intensity like no other at the beginning of each song. He remained enigmatic as he cycled through hit after hit, including select standouts from the first two Man On The Moon albums as well as more recent tracks from Indicud and Satellite Flight like “Just What I Am” and “Going To The Ceremony”. Humbled by the entire experience, yet as charismatic as ever, a boyish grin was plastered on Cudi’s face as he raced through the middle of the crowd during a spirited rendition of “Pursuit Of Happiness”. He kept everyone captivated right up until the epic conclusion, where he busted out his guitar and channeled his inner Kurt Cobain while performing an acoustic version of his new single “Confused” live for the very first time. That is when things finally clicked for me. Although Cudi’s rock ambitions have long been heavily scrutinized, those “failures” were absolutely necessary for him to push himself forward in new and exciting ways. Though I admit I’d began to lose a little faith myself, witnessing Cudi at Lollapalooza has made me a believer again and I simply cannot wait to hear what he has in store for Speedin’ Bullet to Heaven.


(Image Credit: Jamie Bernstein)

BANKS Is A True Goddess

I understand it may be cliche to make the above statement, considering it’s the name of her album, but I’m really at a loss for words at a better way to describe BANKS‘ mystifying command of the stage. The hazy atmosphere was perfect for a late Saturday evening set as she glided effortlessly across the stage, while her crisp, hypnotizing vocals rung out through the air, carrying us into sunset. Though the entire performance was relatively low-key, I don’t think anyone captured my attention from start to finish quite the way BANKS did as she scrolled through her fantastic library of singles from “This Is What It Feels Like” to “Beggin’ For Thread”. As with most live shows, the addition of a band only enhanced the experience further; if you have a chance to catch BANKS sometime in the near future I highly suggest you take advantage of the opportunity.

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ODESZA Knows Exactly How To Cater To A Crowd

Despite hailing from Seattle, you’d be forgiven for mistaking ODESZA as Windy City natives on Sunday afternoon. The dynamic duo called in a favor from the Chicago Bulls Drumline team to help them open up their set in epic fashion, while decked out in some custom jerseys of their own. It was a perfect way to welcome people back to the festivities after a potential thunderstorm prompted an evacuation of Grant Park hours earlier. Saddled with the daunting task of being the act proceeding A$AP Rocky, the crowd was filled with countless rap fans who were caught scratching their heads beforehand as they puzzlingly asked “What’s an ODESZA?” Luckily those same patrons were shuffling their feet moments later as Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight commanded the stage for a full hour with a mix of funky beats and live percussion. ODESZA ended their set the same way it began, bringing out the Chicago Bulls Drumline again to help them close things out with an unreleased remix of Alex Addair‘s “Make Me Feel Better”.

2015 Lollapalooza - Day 3

(Image Credit: Josh Brasted/FilmMagic)

A$AP Rocky Came To Party

I’ll admit that after three full days at Lollapalooza, I was already pretty exhausted to the say the least. In fact, ahead of A$AP Rocky‘s set on Sunday evening, an overwhelming amount of the audience was sitting down in the grass as they waited for him to take the stage. Once the speakers started blaring to the tune of “Hella Hoes”, you can bet all that weariness was quickly forgotten as everyone was up on their feet and ready to rage. As the final hip-hop act of the festival, Rocky made it clear he had only one goal in mind: to throw the best party anyone had ever seen. With the A$AP Mob in tow, Rocky managed to reinvigorate the crowd with an electric performance that included covers of House of Pain’s “Jump Around” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as well as a surprise appearance from Vic Mensa who stormed out onto the stage to play his hit single “U Mad” (more on that later). It didn’t take long for the spectators to get “Wild For The Night” as mosh spits sprang up by the third number while a man in a wheelchair crowd-surfed his way to the front to Rocky’s amazement. The whole affair was rather turnt to say the least, and for all the flack Lollapalooza took this year for not having a “marquee” hip-hop headliner, Flacko’s impressive performance put all those doubts to rest.


(Image Credit: Gary Brannan)

Vic Mensa Was The Surprise Guest Of The Weekend

Despite not being on the bill at Lollapalooza, Vic Mensa still managed to leave a lasting impression at this year’s festival. The Chicago native made his presence felt during all three days, surprising fans during sets with Dillon Francis, G-Eazy and A$AP Rocky. No matter how many times fans heard “U Mad” over the course of the weekend, they proceeded to get lit as Vic brought boundless amounts of energy with him wherever he showed up. At one point during his appearance with Dillon Francis on Friday, Vic dangerously dove off of the DJ booth, rolling to a halt and hobbling back up to his feet before continuing the performance like it was no problem (see footage below). Releasing a freestyle titled “Heir To The Throne” last week, it only makes sense that Vic would represent his city more than anyone at Lolla, Chicago’s largest event of the year, as he prepares to take the reins for himself.

A video posted by Sandra Vargas (@sandra_veee) on

@vicmensa took the stage with @asvpxrocky at @lollapalooza on Sunday to perform “U Mad”. #lolla #chicago #tbt A video posted by The Music Ninja (@the_music_ninja) on


(Image Credit: © Drew Gurian/Red Bull Content Pool)

Hip-Hop’s Future Is In Great Hands

When the lineup for Lollapalooza was first announced, one of the major gripes revolved around the perceived lack of a true heavyweight hip-hop headliner a la Eminem or Outkast from the year before. While this may have been true, the genre was still very well represented at this year’s festival. The bill was dominated by young up-and-comers who should be mainstays for years to come. Daye Jack opened the weekend up with a rousingly soulful performance, while Mick Jenkins commanded a sizable hometown crowd during his early slot on Saturday. Raury brought a raw, youthful exuberance of his own, scissor kicking his way onto the stage with the backing of a live band to “Chariots Of Fire”. Other memorable moments include Pell scoring a cameo from G-Eazy for a rendition of their collaborative track “Got It Like That” and Logic kicking a two minute freestyle at the EDM-heavy Perry’s stage on Sunday. These are just a few of the highlights from a weekend that also included standout sets from Young Thug and Tyler, The Creator as well. 2015 has been a landmark year for hip-hop, and while the perceived star power may have been lacking at Lolla this year, the quality of music was second to none.

By the way, make sure to check out this neat infographic from Spencer Stein that details Lollapalooza’s colorful history when it comes to hip-hop.

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Vic Mensa