Day 2 Recap : Lollapalooza 2014 : Grant Park, Chicago, IL

Written by Ryan Hickey

While the prediction of low 70s weather turned out to be a little off, the warmth was not to be hated by this blogger. Day two brought beautiful sunshine and a highly anticipated lineup, both of which we took head on.

Our first stop was at the Samsung Galaxy stage for Jungle, a relatively new modern soul group from London. Jungle has been around since early 2013, and gave the day two early bird crowd a smooth start to the day with their blend of old school funk and sample-laced trip hop beats.

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After Jungle’s set, we made the park-wide trek over to the Palladia stage to see Parquet Courts. They took the stage and introduced themselves with a brief “We’re Parquet Courts from Brooklyn, New York” and jumped right into their set. This band is also relatively new to the scene, forming in 2010. Interestingly enough, their sound reflects a heavy influence of 80’s punk, and I would be surprised if they did not absorb some inspiration from the likes of Sonic Youth in their formative years.

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We took the next of many trips back across Grant Park to catch the grimey, southern rock sounds of Phosphorescent. Led by singer-songwriter Matthew Houck, whose voice has Springsteen-like qualities, Phosphorescent’s musical topics are often similar to other southern/country songs, covering addiction, heartbreak and other facts of life.

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Following the first mini marathon of shows, we nestled into the press area to recharge and prepare for an excellent second phase of day two. Fitz and the Tantrums started this next round. The enthusiastic neo-soul act runs their shows with lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick in perpetual motion. Their message is all positive and the band leads by example when it comes to making music fun. In addition to a plethora of originals, the band also covered the Eurythmics classic “Sweet Dreams” and during another jam, saxophonist James King played the chorus lick from Jason Derulo’s current club hit, “Talk Dirty.” If you enjoy dancing and having a good time at a show, do yourself a favor and see them when you can.

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Back across the park we walked again to the Palladia stage for the highly anticipated performance from legendary New York rapper Nas. Considered by many fans and critics to be one of the most gifted MCs to ever put out a record, Nas came out (on time) and jumped right into his first song without any gimmicks or delays, incredibly refreshing for a rap performance. A huge crowd had gathered and old school heads joined in yelling lyrics to the opening “New York State of Mind.” Nas celebrated the 20th anniversary of his smash record Illmatic and delighted the crowd by playing nearly every song from the record. Before going into “It Ain’t Hard to Tell,” Nas acknowledged Michael Jackson as his musical inspiration (the song samples MJ’s “Human Nature”). Nas absolutely ripped it and it was great to see.

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We made a quick stop to see a few songs from Spoon, the 20+ year-career band from Austin. Their straightforward approach to rock has been churning out albums since the early 90s, including their newest release, They Want My Soul (August 5th, 2014). While the crowd seemed to be showing signs of fatigue from the long day, Spoon rocked and rolled the crowd back into action.’

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Finally, we reached the Samsung Galaxy stage for our Lolla 2014 ‘manifest destiny: OutKast. It seemed as if the entire city of Chicago showed up with a plus one for this show, and rightfully so. The Atlanta rap duo’s return to the stage this summer after a long hiatus has been the talk of the town along with the headliner at many major festivals. Unlike many of their rap brethren, though, OutKast does not mail it in when it comes to performing. Their show comes complete with live band (including the same horn players who have recorded on their studio albums), DJ and backup singers and is absolutely electric. Not only carrying the torch with hip hop tradition, their live band is able to layer elements of Motown, rock and funk into their sets, almost completely separating them from their competition (which they alluded to in “Rosa Parks” by telling their fellow rappers to “move to the back of the bus”).

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OutKast began their set with an energetic “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” and proceeded to play every hit song they ever created, in which there are many. The crowd sang along to classic jams from all of their records, as well as solo work from Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Both rappers wore interesting attire, with Big Boi in a unique ‘short suit’ and Andre donning a blonde wig and a jump suit that read “Across cultures, darker people suffer most. Why?” on the chest. Andre’s suit also sported a “SOLD” tag dangling from the waist, presumably referring to slave trade, but perhaps also a knock on the music industry. While OutKast has never been afraid to address such controversial topics, they also know how to keep their shows ‘for the people’ and are the consummate crowd-pleasers. It felt great knowing this may be the one and only time I get to see these rap legends, and that they could not have been more impressive on stage.

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