Fans crush on Dua Lipa, want Lolla to stay in Chicago

The second day of Lollapalooza opened with questions swirling outside the Grant Park gates about the music festival’s future in Chicago, and about contract talks between Texas-based producer C3 Presents and the city. Inside, the focus was on the experience and the music.

Headliners Friday were Machine Gun Kelly, Bob Moses, Rezz and Dua Lipa. Unlike in pre-pandemic summers, single-day general admission tickets are not yet sold out, and are available through Sunday on the festival’s website. (Tickets can also be found online, some at discounted prices.)

Lollapalooza has played in Grant Park since 2005. Its current contract, signed in 2012, was set to expire after last year’s festival, but both sides agreed to a one-year extension. Before 2005, Lollapalooza was a touring festival founded by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell. It has since grown to six other countries and, recently announced, will add a Lollapalooza in Mumbai in 2023.

Of the fans at Lollapalooza who spoke with the Tribune, all said the music fest should stay in the city.

“I think it should be here,” said Laura Tenney, a Texas transplant now living in Chicago who was decked out in glitter and a flowing white robe. “It advertises the city so well, it’s a beautiful city. I think without Lollapalooza, the draw to the city would be less.”

She was with friends from San Antonio who were in town for the fest. They were off to see Whipped Cream on the Solana X Perry’s stage. “We know nothing about them but we’re excited.”

Aubrey and Abby Rivera got to Grant Park at 8 am Friday. But when the gates opened three hours later, the sisters split up: Abby stuck to the path. Aubrey cut through grass and trees. Both sprinted half a mile to be front row for dance pop megastar Lipa’s late-night headline show.

The two got a spot right along the metal barrier, where they sat on a blanket and waited through the sets of artists they didn’t know well. And it was all worth it.

“I just like her confidence in her songs. I have a crush on her,” Abby, 22, said.

This seems like the most expensive Lollapalooza yet, said Abby, who has been four times. But she doesn’t want the show to leave. “It would be disappointing, because I don’t really know what else I’d have to look forward to music festival-wise,” the Edgewater resident said.

When cinematic indie rock act Flipturn played its hit song “Chicago,” the audience went predictably crazy. The Florida band had dreamed of playing the tune here.

“That was definitely a big bucket list thing, to play that song at Lollapalooza,” said bassist Madeline Jarman.

Flipturn will release its first full-length album, “Shadowglow,” in August.

As fans clung to beachy guitar notes, smoke from the crowd mixed with smoke from the stage and caught projected purple light, and Norah Buss didn’t miss a word.

“I went crazy,” said the 18-year-old South Loop resident who had white sequins on her forehead, green sequins over her eyes and pink eye shadow below them. “I was just elated. It made me so happy. I’m from here!”

The joy on her face evaporated when she heard talks to keep Lollapalooza in the city after this year hit a snag. Her heart had already broken when COVID-19 halted live concerts, she said.

“I hope Lolla’s back. I think it means a lot to a lot of people,” Buss said. She gets to be with other music lovers when the big show comes to Grant Park every year, she said. The noise in her neighborhood doesn’t bother her one bit. “I feel like, when I’m at Lolla, I like people more,” she said. “It’s like a little community here.”

Valentine Koprowski, of Glen Ellyn, has been to Lollapalooza a few times. As a vaccinated attendee, he said COVID-19 wasn’t a concern for him. He said he enjoys Lolla when compared with the city’s other festivals because it attracts more popular artists. Though he hadn’t heard about the ongoing contract negotiations, he said it would be a shame if the fest left Chicago.

Outside of the concerns about Lolla’s future in Chicago, artists and concertgoers pressed on.

Ohio-born rapper Jasiah was the opening act on the Bud Light Seltzer stage, at one point interrupting his set to stage-dive and jump down into the crowd.

“Y’all know what a circle pit is?” he asked. “OK. When I say run, y’all run around me in a circle.”

He launched into his next song. “Now run! Run!” In the packed mosh pit, a crowd of teenagers five rows deep swirled around him in a circle, a sight projected on the video screens.

Over at Kidzapalooza, the Chicago Bulls mascot, Benny the Bull, danced with the crowd. Festivalgoers formed a circle, dancing to songs such as Missy Elliott’s “Lose Control” as part of the Happiness Club, which offers free performing arts education for Chicago’s youth. Some of the festival’s youngest attendees danced and cheered.

Meanwhile, as the crowds dispersed in various directions at the Discord stage, Wes Johnson of Berwyn was relaxing in the shade by the statue of Abraham Lincoln right after Wet Leg, for whom he was up front, finished playing.

“It brought me back to some concerts I’d seen in my youth,” he said.

The Lolla first-timer said he was also excited to see Idles on Saturday.

“It’s a good atmosphere,” he said. “I don’t know if it gets more crowded than this, but it seems comfortable right now. I feel like I have plenty of space.” He added that there were plenty of spots around the park where you can take refuge from the crowd under some shade or on the grass.

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