Day one down, three more to go. Lollapalooza celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with four full days of festivities as opposed to three. True to Lollapalooza form, the doors for the first day opened nearly one hour late due to threatening weather, though on the bright side the extra day allowed for more music than ever, and while day one included only a handful big name draws such as J. Cole and Lana Del Rey — whose soft-spoken vocals had the large crowd clinging to her every whispered word, it was the emerging talents who stole the show.
Lucy Dacus, an alternative singer/songwriter from Virginia, had a humbled start as her early morning set drew a somewhat large crowd, to which she said was “very weird” considering just four years ago she too was watching a band perform on the very same stage. Dacus proved to be a multi-dimensional artist, as many songs started slow and tender before building in power and momentum, while never sounding the same. She told the crowd that, “If we could [play longer] we would,” before stating “Today is the best,” as her set came to a close. Hours later, on the same stage, another artist had his breakout moment. The trio known as firekid proved within seconds they are well on their way to a successful career, as mastermind Dillon Hodges created a sonic sundae of instrumentals and his uniquely toned voice was the cherry on top. Firekid delivered a set that can largely be defined as vibrant bluegrass, with undertones of soul and some electronic production. The feel good set came on the heels of the festival’s first rain (which at this point is inevitable), to which Hodges said, “A little rain can’t put out a firekid,” before booing his own bad joke.
The little bit of rain was nothing more than that, scattered showers that never amounted into a full-blown storm — a relief to both attendees and promoters, as day one made it through without the need for an evacuation. As the sun struggled against the dense and dark clouds, performances ran as planned with solid sets from Bastille — whose clear and voluminous sound paired well with the large and open festival environment — and Kurt Vile — whose mellow vibe eased the audience from the cruel heat of the day into the breezy and comfortable night, which saw a set of performances from two bands who share similar stories in the sense that both feature a pre-made star: The Arcs and The Last Shadow Puppets.
The Arcs, a side project of The Black Keys vocalist and guitarist Dan Auerbach, delivered a rock heavy set thick in texture. Considering the band landed an evening slot having only released one debut record, Auerbach’s already established and faithful following proved to help The Arcs gain one as well. And while the delicacy of their softer songs such as “Put a Flower in Your Pocket” was lost in a flurry of overdriven instrumentation, the set as a whole delivered nothing less than rich and resounding rock, as did the headlining set from The Last Shadow Puppets. The supergroup, which consists of dynamic duo Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys and Miles Kane formerly of The Rascals, proved they have both the skill and stage presence necessary to deliver an all around superb set. The two frequently swapped out the front-and-center position on stage, illustrating their equality as partners and proving neither to be a better singer than the other; meanwhile the symphonic instrumentation inherent on their sophomore record, 2016’s Everything You’ve Come to Expect, came alive with the help of a string section situated in the back corner of the stage. The juxtaposition of Kane’s bold attitude with the more classically reserved persona of Turner results in intriguing songs that balance both bad and good, best heard on “Bad Habits,” in which the two managed to make even a series of bad habits sound oh so good. And as they closed down the first night of Lollapalooza with a near perfect set, they left with their heads, and expectations for day two, held high.