On the scene at Lollapalooza Day 3: Florence and the Machine, J. Cole, Childish Gambino and more
Below, a few quick takes on some of the most memorable sets from the final day of the festival:
FLORENCE + THE MACHINE
There’s no higher praise at Lollapalooza than the Mayor himself, Rahm Emanuel, coming to check out your set. Rightfully, Florence + the Machine seemed like the act to watch early Sunday evening, drawing an impressive crowd at the festival’s north end. Florence Welch emerged appropriately majestic in a flowing red dress, looking like a celestial Gryffindor princess and stretching her arms out like she was trying to control the weather (a gift we could have used during Saturday’s stormapalooza).
Running in front of the stage with surprising agility — festival security could barely keep up — the English siren put her soaring voice to good use on highlight “Shake It Out.” She switched up the fan favorite by adding a rave-y remixed finale, but the booming addition was actually her most commanding performance — so much so that the rest of her setlist, including “Cosmic Love,” “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up),” “No Light No Light” and Machine signature “Dog Days Are Over,” almost paled in comparison.
The Jay-Z protege runs a well-oiled stage show, in part thanks to his backing band, which fleshed out his set with piano solos, arena-ready guitars and drums that gave an extra kick to tracks like “Grew Up Fast” and the Missy Elliott collaboration “Nobody’s Perfect.” Near the end of his set, a guest DJ came out and played Big Sean’s “Dance (A$$),” which wouldn’t have been a problem if it hadn’t been the most applauded and hooted-for song of the entire set.
Cole has the stage presence, but it looks like he could use a few more hits: Even his most straightforward clubs-girls-bling track, “Work Out,” gets help by sampling Kanye West’s “The New Workout Plan” and Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.”
Seattle rapper Mackelmore and his DJ Ryan Lewis were one of the first acts to grace the Google Play stage on Sunday, but the two drew a crowd easily the size of Frank Ocean’s, who headlined the same stage the night before. It’s no surprise that fans have caught on to the wide appeal of Mackelmore: He alternately samples The Killers and Rick Ross and raps about David Bowie movies from the 1980s, thrift stores, drug addiction, Air Jordans, and being Irish, probably in that order.
He also got the audience to do just about anything he wanted, from waving their hands wildly to shouting back “zabadabingba” in a nonsense call-and-response game. The best moment, however, came when he introduced his pop star alter ego — an adopted British child of Samuel L. Jackson and Lady Gaga with a hair-metal blonde wig — for the epic party-starter “And We Danced.”
DUM DUM GIRLS
The California garage minxes delivered a steady stream of jangly alt-pop and, of course, matching black outfits. Sometimes the group’s dreamy, wall-of-sound songs felt too flimsy, but as the band loosened up the songs got more memorable — or maybe as the songs got more memorable, the band loosened up. Either way, by the end of the show, frontwoman Kristin Gundred was showing off her range on the woozy “Coming Down,” and the band had officially found its stride.
When dreamy electro-lite outfit Miike Snow made their Lollapalooza debut three years ago, they took the stage wearing masks and barely spoke between songs. Now frontman Andrew Wyatt has turned downright chatty, introducing the band and asking the crowd to sing along to the whistling “Bavarian No. 1 (Say You Will).” Wyatt and his bandmates — Swedish production duo and Britney Spears hitmakers Bloodshy & Avant — also picked up tips on how to throw a killer sunset dance party, evident during the piano-smashing “Paddling Out” and the pulsing “Animal.”
If Frank Ocean’s Saturday headlining set quickly proved why he deserved the time slot, the Sunday closing act from Childish Gambino, perhaps better known as Community star Donald Glover, was a much harder case for the 28-year-old rapper to win.
Childish Gambino’s headliner status isn’t an issue for him as a performer — the set was full of raw, scrappy energy from the get-go, with Gambino’s ever changing delivery and shouty enthusiasm readily on tap. But there were doubts considering he spent his first few songs trying so hard with his origin story: He used to be a loser, he can get any girl now, he’s still Gambino from the block, he’s not like these other rappers, he uses Facebook just like us, and so on. (He also told the crowd he was playing 200-seat theater shows a year ago, and put all the lyrics to “Freaks and Geeks” up on a screen because he knows not everybody knows the words.)
Thankfully, it stopped feeling awkward and started being fun when he got things popping on the Lil Wayne-esque “Yes” and a drum-heavy performance of his “Rolling in the Deep.” “You See Me,” with its “Asian girls everywhere, UCLA!” hook provided some of the day’s better laughs, and “Heartbeat” set his account of it’s-complicated relationships to his danciest beat.
So what’s the take-away from Childish Gambino? Look no further than his own song, “All the Shine”: “What’s the point of rap if you can’t be yourself?” If he keeps heeding that advice, we’ll be back next time.
More on EW.com:
On the scene at Lollapalooza Saturday: Stormy weather leads to good vibrations for Frank Ocean and Red Hot Chili Peppers