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Lollapalooza Day One: Artists, fans celebrate live music’s return under enhanced safety protocols

 
Even Miley Cyrus seemed awestruck by Thursday night’s crowd at her Lollapalooza headlining performance. An audience more than three football fields-deep amassed to watch the mega-star perform a fiery 90-minute set, which featured celebrity guests including Billy Idol, The Kid LAROI, Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa and Chicago’s G Herbo. 

Cyrus performed hits spanning her lengthy career including tracks from her most recent album Plastic Hearts, as well as an array of covers from Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” to a shredding rendition of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” Her choice to open with the 2013 hit “We Can’t Stop” suggested a primal desire to play and listen to live music — even in the face of a global pandemic.  

The singer said it was her first experience performing in front of so many people since COVID-19 obliterated touring schedules.  

“Playing in front of this many people can really jerk-off your ego,” Cyrus said. “But without you guys, [artists] are nothing,” Cyrus said of live music’s 18-month hiatus. 

While performing her song “SMS (Bangerz),” which features Britney Spears, Cyrus flashed “Free Britney” across the jumbotrons in support of the conservatorship-bound pop star. The crowd erupted in support. 

 Cyrus wasn’t the only artist to express gratitude toward Thursday’s crowd. An overwhelming sense of relief and comradery in having survived COVID-19 permeated throughout Grant Park on Thursday.   

Amid the hit “Colors,” Black Pumas’ frontman Eric Burton stopped the music and jumped off the stage to personally greet members of the audience.  

“It’s just you and me,” he said, finishing the song a cappella.  

Performers from the rock group All Time Low and the emerging indie pop outfit Almost Monday said they never expected such large crowds. Singer and songwriter LP, the creative force behind countless hits including Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That),” mused on how wonderful it felt to play live again.  

LP by Mickey Pierre-Louis for Lollapalooza

Spectators, long-starved of a good party, emerged in full fanfare. Glitter and fringe abounded, with attendees arriving as early as 8:30 a.m.  

Some, however, fear music fans might be exhaling too early as the Delta variant spreads throughout Illinois. The CDC declared Cook County an area of “substantial transmission” Thursday, and advises residents in such areas to wear a mask indoors in public. 

Festival attendees must bring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of entry, and those unvaccinated must remain masked.  

Lollapalooza reported on social media that more than 90% of attendees brought proof of vaccination and 8% brought proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The festival turned away 600 attendees that lacked paperwork. 

Even Miley Cyrus seemed awestruck by Thursday night’s crowd at her Lollapalooza headlining performance. An audience more than three football fields-deep amassed to watch the mega-star perform a fiery 90-minute set, which featured celebrity guests including Billy Idol, The Kid LAROI, Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa and Chicago’s G Herbo. 

Cyrus performed hits spanning her lengthy career including tracks from her most recent album Plastic Hearts, as well as an array of covers from Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” to a shredding rendition of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” Her choice to open with the 2013 hit “We Can’t Stop” suggested a primal desire to play and listen to live music — even in the face of a global pandemic.  

The singer said it was her first experience performing in front of so many people since COVID-19 obliterated touring schedules.  

“Playing in front of this many people can really jerk-off your ego,” Cyrus said. “But without you guys, [artists] are nothing,” Cyrus said of live music’s 18-month hiatus. 

While performing her song “SMS (Bangerz),” which features Britney Spears, Cyrus flashed “Free Britney” across the jumbotrons in support of the conservatorship-bound pop star. The crowd erupted in support. 

Cyrus wasn’t the only artist to express gratitude toward Thursday’s crowd. An overwhelming sense of relief and comradery in having survived COVID-19 permeated throughout Grant Park on Thursday.   

Amid the hit “Colors,” Black Pumas’ frontman Eric Burton stopped the music and jumped off the stage to personally greet members of the audience.  

“It’s just you and me,” he said, finishing the song a cappella.  

Performers from the rock group All Time Low and the emerging indie pop outfit Almost Monday said they never expected such large crowds. Singer and songwriter LP, the creative force behind countless hits including Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That),” mused on how wonderful it felt to play live again.  

Spectators, long-starved of a good party, emerged in full fanfare. Glitter and fringe abounded, with attendees arriving as early as 8:30 a.m.  

Some, however, fear music fans might be exhaling too early as the Delta variant spreads throughout Illinois. The CDC declared Cook County an area of “substantial transmission” Thursday, and advises residents in such areas to wear a mask indoors in public. 

Festival attendees must bring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of entry, and those unvaccinated must remain masked.  

Lollapalooza reported on social media that more than 90% of attendees brought proof of vaccination and 8% brought proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The festival turned away 600 attendees that lacked paperwork. 

Featured photo: Miley Cyrus by Pooneh Ghana for Lollapalooza

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arts, culture

Kira Leadholm View All

Kira Leadholm is the co-editor-in-chief of Redacted Magazine. Kira recently returned from a year living in Kazakhstan where she reported on the climate crisis, LGBT+ rights, labor issues and the arts. Currently, she studies social justice and investigative reporting at Medill School of Journalism, and she holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago.