Lollapalooza entered the Swedish market with a bang, that´s for sure. The announcement back in May 2018 got significant media coverage and the hype leading into the festival grew by the hour. And why shouldn´t it? One of the major international festival were approaching a festival market that has been a tough business the last years.
In December 2018 the first artists were revealed, and among them were Foo Fighters, which felt both like a given and a shoe-in; with such a headliner, with real mass appeal, the festival should be alright. Because with a festival like this, it seems to be all about the headliners to draw a crowd. Us nerds might look further down, into the fine print, to find smaller, interesting acts, but the general public (totally elitist to make this distinction, I know) it´s another thing. That was pretty evident over the years in Bråvalla, that it became more difficult to book them and thus to draw the crowd necessary to make it financially viable. For example, the last year of Bråvalla, around the same weekend, Coldplay played a Ullevi in Gothenburg and Guns n´ Roses played in Stockholm the same day as the festival. It´s not a long-shot to guess that Bråvalla had their eye on these bands.
Speaking of Bråvalla (and moving back to Lollapalooza, I promise!), there were some smaller hiccups the first year and it was clear that it took some time to get everything running smoothly. When arriving the first day at Lollapalooza, everything both surprisingly and impressively organized and under control. That was one of the main things over the weekend, how well organized it all was, even the staff was very friendly, which is not at all the case in most other festivals. I was overhearing a manager giving the staff in one of the food stands some pretty tough feedback, that they had not really been as friendly and helping as was expected of them, it was clear that this was a clear policy and something they was aware of in order the create a nice atmosphere. Another aspect that surely added on to the atmosphere was that kids were allowed in, and as in the other Lollapalooza festivals around the world, an area was designated just for the youngsters (more about Kidsapalooza in the Saturday report). People just behave a little bit better when kids are around.
The area was very well planned, with four stages and the Kidzapalooza area, and they used the height differences in the field well, creating natural grandstands facing the two main stages. One could be a bit cynical in how aware the organizers are about creating great sites for insta-posts, very much Coachella-style, but on the other hand, the area looks really good, considering it’s ”just” field in the central Stockholm.
Concerning the lineup, with acts that are pretty much in the genres of pop, rock, hip hop and DJs, one might even say more “mainstream” than other festivals. And that is clear, the target group is not the indie kids. It´s not the traditional festival crowd. It´s basically city kids and 30-somethings with some considerable dispensable income (it´s a rather expensive festival, even though the prices have increased in general in recent years for concerts and festivals). One thing that struck me when I left was how no one I spoke to talked about how the festival collided with the first days at Roskilde. Sure, it´s “just” the warmup-days, but when that was the case with Bråvalla, it was a bigger discussion. It just seem to be two totally different crowds.
Well, about the music the first day then. Junior Brielle was one of the first bands out at one of the two main stages. We (me and Photographer Wilson) saw them at Park Sounds a month ago, and they seem to grow with every show. They have a large audience in their adopted hometown, that´s certain, and they fill out the large stage surprisingly well; they have moved fast from small club scenes to these kinds of settings. Among the greater songs were VM 94, the sort of celebration to the men’s World Cup in 94 when Sweden got bronze, which seem fitting this year, as the women has reached semi-final.
Imenella have moved fast in hip hop-Sweden. She won Best New Artist at the Swedish grammy-awards in 2019 and is going on a large tour this summer. At Lollapalooza she shows of a really vibrant sound that totally forces the audience to move their feet. She us backed up by the great dance group Unruly Gang, adding dynamic to an already great set.
ALMA is such a rare thing as a Finnish very successful music export. Out neighbors in the east has not spoiled us over the years (except Darude, HIM and, of course Lordi, to mention a few), but ALMA is rare breed, moving effortlessly between genres. She put on a great show, with Chasing Highs as the absolute peak, of course.
American Halestorm has been around a while. Siblings Lzzy (vocalist) and Arejay (drums) started out writing songs already as kids basically in 1997. The first EP was released in 2006, and four albums later (the last one, Vicious, released last year), they enter the Lollapalooza stage. They are among the rather few rock acts (yes, “rock” without any prefix at all), and draw a pretty large crowd. The setlist is filled with songs from all records, and they save the hit I Miss the Misery for last, of course.
BROCKHAMPTON was one the main hypes for the festival. The Texas-bound hip hop collective have been on a fast track for success over a long time, with a rather diverse soundscape, moving between “pure” hip hop and more soul-inspired songs. It sounds like very little else today, and it´s pretty awesome live.
We have saluted Swedish Hurula before, he´s one of the best rock acts in Sweden today. With the latest album Klass he has moved into a little different direction. It´s a bit slower and heavier, in every meaning of the word, with lyrics about a pretty rough upbringing. And even though it´s a record worth listening to, the setting for the show was not perfect. Show opener Ont som jag is just a kick in the head, but on a perfect summer day, on a festival, the heavy lyrics and songs from Klass does not come to its full right. The fall tour will probably a better time to see him.
The main acts of the day were an American triple; Billie Eilish, Lana Del Ray and Travis Scott. We should mention that Hellacopters were sandwiched in their, which was a bit tough placement in the schedule, but they did not seem to mind. Rock, without a prefix, is not too shabby. Seeing them mean that we missed Lana Del Ray, but how many times will we have the chance to see Hellacopters (OK, pretty many more times, but the heart wants what the heart wants).
Billie Eilish is basically a massive, MASSIVE, star already. She enters the stage to bad guy and basically takes over with such confidence that´s just so impressive. The sound was not great, to be honest, but the crowd does not seem to mind. It´s a generation thing, that’s for sure, which all the smart phones in the air throughout the show is a testament to, but she transcends everything.
Travis Scott ended the day. And the way he did it. Holy moly… goosebumps and SICKO MODE is almost more than the crows can handle, and after seeing the rather mixed performance at Super Bowl (well, it was honestly Maroon 5´s fault), this was such a different thing. It was a greater closer to the first day.