Lollapalooza 2015 Photo Gallery, Day Three: Florence + the Machine, FKA Twigs + More
Between standout sets from Marina and the Diamonds, Wild Belle, Bully, Halsey, Of Monsters and Men, FKA Twigs and Florence + the Machine, the third day (Aug. 2) of Lollapalooza was most certainly ruled by women. Though early on, it looked for a moment as if the day’s most notable appearance might be by a severe thunderstorm. With high winds driving the threat of lightning and heavy rains speedily toward Grant Park around 2:30PM, festival organizers evacuated all attendees to nearby parking garages functioning as shelters.
Thankfully, it was less than an hour later that the winds shifted, an all-clear was issued and music fans poured back in. The delay did mean most sets would need shortening, but if anything, the constraints motivated artists across the board to pack as much punch as possible in the time afforded.
Some fared better than others. To stretch his time on the main stage, 22-year-old British singer-songwriter George Ezra decided to forgo his band’s setup and performed a rare electric solo set. The result was a mixed bag: Hit singles “Blame It On Me” and “Budapest” sounded significantly weaker without a full-band treatment (and steady gusts kept mucking up otherwise pristine vocals); conversely, the stripped-down nature of Bob Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country” revealed a deep richness in his voice that might’ve been downplayed with full amplification.
In contrast to that lazy-Sunday display, following appearances by Wales’ Marina and the Diamonds, gypsy punk outfit Gogol Bordello and Columbus, Ohio’s Twenty One Pilots felt like feral bursts of unstoppable energy. Though the fans for the former two acts were rabid by their own rights, nothing compared to masses that turned up to watch the latter duo.
It’s sometimes difficult to understand what vocalist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun are going for musically with Twenty One Pilots – the sounds on new album Blurryface shift from piano rock to reggae to hip-hop and often a cross-section of all three – but there’s no denying their power as performers. Backflips, ultra-high jumps, drumming on a mini-kit while crowd-surfing … all these antics added volumes to the palpable excitement of a throng several thousand deep that roared along to every last word.
By the time Of Monsters and Men took the main stage around 7:15PM (nearly an hour delayed), another severe weather warning was issued for the fest’s final two hours and the possibility of evacuation again loomed large. Yet grey skies and high-speed winds only complemented the often stormy indie-folk pulled from the Icelanders’ recently released sophomore album Beneath the Skin. Opening track “Thousand Eyes” in particular played like a perfect rain dance soundtrack with it’s down-tempo ambience and heavily percussive layers.
FKA Twigs likewise served up a dark and sultry spectacle that mirrored the impending tempest in its own way. Surrounded by bright white strobes and twisting smoke, her smooth yet sudden movements on new track “Figure 8” and fan favorite “Papi Pacify” struck like lightning. Her pitch-perfect yet slightly pained vocals on “Pendulum” “Give Up” stung and soothed simultaneously like a fierce, cool rain.
Miraculously, not a drop had fallen by the time British pop-rock powerhouse Florence Welch and her mighty Machine -- back for the first time since their 2012 Lolla debut - strode out into the warm glow reflected by their massive glitter-textured backdrop. On cue, as the band launched into a highlight from third album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, “What the Water Gave Me,” chain lightning began to sweep across the downtown skyline.
“Will you be our choir?” asked Welch, ignoring the bright electric flashes. The following one-two-punch of “Ship to Wreck” and “Shake It Off” – during which the fiery-headed frontwoman galloped, leapt and hair-flipped across the stage without pause – sent a message: Flo & co. would make every second count. Their music wouldn’t merely help fans weather the storm, it was intended to beat it back.
Welch tackled the task with the gusto of a young star destined for greatness. The serene yet commanding fullness of her voice on “Delilah” and “St. Jude” resounded with unmatched passion – the sort of moxie that will make the 28-year-old a lifelong star. And at the moment, she has the advantage of carefree youth, so apparent when she shed her blouse and ran through the audience in her bra to round out the finale of “Dog Days Are Over.”
Even with one of the weekend’s thickest crowds singing along at thunderous volumes, the song’s spirit of youthful defiance wasn’t enough to ward off the weather, which ultimately forced the band to leave with 10 minutes to spare after playing for only 50. But this festival was founded with music inspired by a similar temperament. With bands like Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, and Jane’s Addiction. Sunday night’s show sealed the deal: it’s time to count Florence + the Machine among Lollapalooza’s historical badasses.