My experience of night two at Lollapalooza 2019 kicked off with a dancing queen in pussy pants, a military jacket and hat and a long African mud cloth jacket. That jacket was black and white – and that’s a symbol of Janelle Monáe. It’s possible that Janelle Monae is conveying that there is no gray area in life, that one is either content and proud, or not.
Costume plays a significant role in a Janelle Monáe performance. She claims her power in her red and black military style jacket at the start of her set, leading into songs like “Screwed,” in which Monáe even asserts the equivalence of power and sex. In so doing, Monáe makes direct eye contact with her audience – or with the jumbotron camera, in this case.
Monáe focused on her singing and dancing until it became time for “Make Me Feel,” a breezy number about someone who – simply put – makes you feel all sorts of good inside. At this point, mid-dance, a guitar was thrown around Monae’s torso and she effortlessly glided across those high, recognizable notes.
Janelle Monáe is well known for her statements on self-love and those notes sung of how it felt that someone else could feel the same way about her. But, she makes the self-love part look easy. It may be advisable to attend a Janelle Monae concert regularly as a form of therapy.
As Monáe’s set wrapped up with the famous, “Tightrope” some of the crowd melted down, either to claim a middle spot for Tame Impala at the opposing Bud Light stage, to check out NF at Lake Shore, or maybe Bishop Briggs at American Eagle on the other side of the fountain.
As irresistible as the opportunity to see Childish Gambino was, Tame Impala was my personal pick for the night. Lollapalooza needs to do their research on fans’ music tastes. It has been a trend that this particular festival places artists who speak to music lovers across the board on the same night.
Though Tame Impala and Childish Gambino are not similar in style, those who stay informed want to see “This Is America” live, and may have been getting to know Donald Glover since. In the same way, Muse and Coldplay played at the same time in 2011.
Regardless, Tame Impala was my top pick for the night, having followed their music the longest. The band looked like aliens standing in a UFO, thanks to the giant halo-shaped lighting instrument above their heads, and their most recognizable ethereal sounds. The group made sure to include fan favorites, including “Elephant,” “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” and “Let It Happen.”
But fans in this small crowd (compared to that with with I crossed paths in transit to the T-Mobile stage) reacted excitably to tracks off Tame Impala’s newest “Currents” album. Those included “Borderline,” “The Moment,” and “The Less I Know The Better.” And, the band’s new single, “Patience,” which is an ode to an audience, speaks to the band’s MIA status since 2015.
But perhaps it even speaks to the patience of older festival goers this year. That is especially true, given those anticipating The Strokes’ appearance, in contrast to the younger demographic Lollapalooza has begun catering to more lately when it comes to the headliners.
But the much-awaited Summer Chicago fest does continue to illuminate influencers, or changers of music, like Upsahl, Idles, Dreamers, Janelle Monáe, Men I Trust and many more.