Lollapalooza 2019: Night one in review

Julian Casablancas of The Strokes performs on day one of Lollapalooza in Grant Park on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, in Chicago. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Grant Park is a what feels like a mile-long venue for Lollapalooza, the incredible four-day stretch of a variety of musical acts, which Thursday featured new artists like Cautious Clay, Jackie Foster, Des Rocs and Lauren Daigle.

With my time limited to the evening for day one, I trudged from the 11th Street entrance all the way North, to check out a few minutes of Chicagoan SABA. He’s 25 and beloved by many in the Chicago area. Chicagoans are noticeably loyal to their neighbors, whether it’s Chance the Rapper, Jennifer Hudson, Mavis Staples or so on.

The audience for SABA was a great combination of young and old, trying to get a good touch of the vibration from the young rapper’s speakers, which emanated colorful piano riffs as he spilled his story. With American Eagle being one of the smaller stages of Lollapalooza, SABA mega-fans stood towards the middle to be hit more properly with his words and accompanying instrumentation.

But another small stage stood between the trees and like a sanctuary, as it was the setting of new New York artist Des Rocs. Deep, dark guitar riffs sounded through this sanctuary, where Des brought old school rhythm back to the BMI stage. That’s with the help of the words of an outlaw of life. Des Rocs played the guitar behind his back for some of his performance, a skill to marvel at, and perhaps an ironic message about life. The singer expressed gratitude for the opportunity, after sharing that something had happened three years ago at Lollapalooza, leading him not to believe he’d be back.

And finally, a five-minute walk landed me next to the sound booth of the T-Mobile stage, where soon, The Strokes would finally, officially, show their faces to anxious Chicago fans. The crowd at T-Mobile quickly transitioned from a majority of up-and-coming music fans, who praised Hozier, to an audience of spectators ranging from 20-40 years old, ready for The Strokes.

No one I spoke to before, at and after this headliner, had ever seen the band live. I include myself, a 27-year-old, a 20-year-old woman who waited three hours at this stage, and a 25-year-old man on the red line home.

Each piece of The Strokes has performed solo projects, but so many Strokes fans just wanted to see it all come together, to be what started their love for each member. They wanted to hear the combination of Julian Casablancas’s creamy, deep, innocent voice with Albert Hammond Jr.’s light, feathery guitar riffs that made The Strokes famous. And they did.

Finally, Chicago The Strokes lovers bounced to the bass of “On The Other Side”, to run in place to the racing guitar of “Whatever Happened” and punched their fists to the Earth to every part of “Hard to Explain.” It’s safe to say the band catered to every living Strokes semi-fan, by ending the set with “Someday” and “Last Nite.”

And Casablancas entertained the crowd between  tracks, cracking jokes about how bands praise their audiences, and demonstrating drummer Fabrizio Moretti’s shyness. Some laughed at the jokes, while others marveled at the opportunity to get to know the band up close.

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