More than 400,000 music fans took in the enormity of 170 bands across 115 acres of Grant Park in downtown Chicago for the festival to end all festivals — Lollapalooza.
The annual music festival — which was celebrating its 25th anniversary — hugged The Windy City as a whole, from the mayor’s traditional welcome letter inside the programs to the Chicago skyline emblazoned on the uniquely-designed Lollapalooza beer cans.
Here are the highlights of the four-day extravaganza.
Dwayne Wade’s Chicago Debut
“It feels good to be home in Chicago,” the NBA’s Dwayne Wade announced, while making a surprise entrance on Thursday night.
He joined fellow locals Flosstradamus on Perry’s dance-themed stage. Despite growing up in Chicago idolizing the Bulls, Wade spent his entire professional career playing in Miami. He shocked the NBA by choosing to come home to the Bulls earlier this month.
Flosstradamus played the championship-era Bulls’ entrance music — “Sirius” by Alan Parsons Project — as Wade made his entrance.
Wade rolled the moment forward, bringing out another Chicago local, Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child’s, to sing “Survivor.” He then rounded out the super group with Chance the Rapper, making this an all-Chicago homecoming.
In coordinating this sports, rap, pop and EDM collaboration, Bud Light Music actually scooped the Bulls themselves, who had Wade’s official introduction to the city planned for the next morning. Like Michael Jordan before him, Wade’s announcement signaled a clear message: “I’m back.”
Malia Obama Likes Cashmere Cat, Future
Speaking of Chicago celebrities, first daughter Malia Obama was spotted in the pit Thursday watching Cashmere Cat. On Friday, she joined one of the most popular events of the day, Future’s twilight set.
Obama, 18, was the one stray celebrity noted on the grounds and definitely the only one with a Secret Service detail in clumsy plaid and khakis.
Major Lazer’s Brings New Year’s Eve Revelry to Soho House
Diplo, Jillionaire and Walshy Fire — the Major Lazer trio — put the “club” in the “club floor” of Soho House Chicago on Thursday night for a party thrown by managers, TMWRK. With Diplo in a “In Memory of Taylor Swift” T-shirt, they took over the decks at 2:07 a.m. and ignited an immediate attitude adjustment in the room.
In the West Hollywood or New York Soho Houses, there is no fifth gear, dance hall mode like seen here in Chicago. Even on New Year’s Eve and Halloween, two of the house’s most festive nights, a baseline of guarded, discrete protocol for the members-only enclave rumbles on. For Lolla, it’s a different city and different rules — except for the no cell phones policy, that persists.
Less than 24 hours later, Diplo reprised one of his great stunts: the hamster ball.
Highlight: Radiohead’s “Karma Police” Closer
After playing their first U.S show in four years earlier this week at Madison Square Garden, Radiohead and frontman Thom Yorke closed out the second day of the festival on the Samsung stage with an encore of two classics: “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” and “Karma Police.” Critics called it “perfect.”
Seen Around Town: 5 Seconds of Summer, Actors-Turned-Rockers
Pop rockers 5 Seconds of Summer and their management were spotted chowing down on seafood towers at RPM Steak on the same night Diplo dined in. Before playing the United Center with Drake, Future also came through. For the second year in a row, Danny Masterson and Michael Pena‘s side-project band Grandpa vs. Prowler played Bub City during Lolla weekend. Just like real bands, they took their after-party to Studio Paris, where DJ Ruckus spun. Emile Hirsch joined them on Friday night.
Social media star, The Fat Jew, and Rosanna Arquette both hit up RPM Steak, albeit separately. Bulls legend Scottie Pippen and wife Larsa, who are regulars on the Miami social scene, were spotted noshing nachos at Hub 51 late night Friday, as Chris Masterson deejayed downstairs.
“Expendables” actor Kellan Lutz, a festival regular, checked out the Dobel Piano Tequila Bar in the north VIP section in between sets. Isabella Summer of “Florence and the Machine” climbed to the top of the Renaissance for the It’s So Miami cocktail party on Saturday afternoon.
Who Knew Third Eye Blind Had a Huge Millennial Following?
Third Eye Blind, the 90’s pop rockers behind “Jumper” and “Semi-Charmed Life” drew a massive crowd to the puny Petrillo Bandshell on Sunday afternoon, filling the field intended for Future and Ellie Goulding on the adjacent Bud Light main stage area .
“We had no expectations on this gig,” lead man Stephan Jenkins told the huge throng. “We are absolutely floored by how many of you came out.”
Their mid afternoon positioning on Day 4 turned out to be an “underplay”. Instead of aging Gen-X’ers and those from the over-30 set, their audience was predominantly millennial.
“How do you even know these guys?” TheWrap asked of a trio of three 19-year old festival bros.
“They have a few good old songs,” one said. Younger audience members knew all the words to the hits too.
Matchbox 20, call your booking agent.
96 Hours of Media from a 44-Hour Festival
Red Bull TV had about 200 staff working around the clock to translate the energy and music of the scene above into the Lollapalooza Live Broadcast shown below.
From trailers and trucks tucked behind the Lakeshore Stage, they produced three distinct 8-hour live streams each day of Lollapalooza sets, artist interviews and lifestyle programming related to the festival. By comparison, the festival gates were only open 44 hours total over all four days. This dive was deep.
With two full-scale production trucks (above, top right), they pumped out content hosted by former E! and ESPN host Sal Masekela. Execs noted that the viewership trend was for fans to tune in on schedule for specific artists, not just to browse the festival. Last year’s Metallica set ranks amongst the most popular.
A “Slam Dunk” for Valentino Khan and Skrillex
Beyond Dwayne Wade and the sea of Bulls jerseys in the mix, Valentino Khan extended the basketball theme.
The “Deep Down Low” producer dropped a surprise new track with Skrillex, “Slam Dunk.” R
“Let’s Get Sweaty and Gross”
That’s the command sister-rockers Haim issued as they began a midnight DJ set for a weary post-festival crowd on Sunday. While opening with Prince’s “1999”, they closed down the weekend at Cerise rooftop lounge at the Virgin Hotels Chicago for a select group of diehards unwilling to kiss off the four-day festival.
As they spun a few hours after the gates closed on 2016, Lollapalooza put out a message on the festival app that the festival will be four days long again next year, August 3-6, 2017.