Lollapalooza stretched into day three with sets from rap icon Megan Thee Stallion, emerging singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun, Chicago’s band Whitney, indie artist Michigander, R&B rising voice Jac Ross among others. Read about the performances below, and check out our coverage of Days One and Two.
The emerging R&B crooner Jac Ross opened the Lakeshore stage to kick off Lollapalooza’s third day. Accompanied onstage by a lone modern dancer and his keyboard, Ross wowed the audience with vocal gymnastics. The stripped-down aesthetic allowed spectators to appreciate his voice, the show’s main draw.
Ross sailed through chilling riffs on his gospel-informed single “Saved,” and amid his set, played a cover of “If I Ain’t Got You” that would make Alicia Keys proud. Strapped with Sam Cooke pipes and an arsenal of original songs, it’s clear Ross will be an R&B artist to pay attention to.
Jason Singer, better-known by his stage name Michigander, played an afternoon set that affirmed his knack for writing and performing anthemic indie pop songs. The audience went berserk when the familiar synth hook on Singer’s opener “Better” flooded the area. Singer’s robust band, which included a trombone and three guitars among other instruments, made the music feel rich, even on quieter songs like “East Chicago, IN.” A live synth would have been icing on the cake.
In true Midwestern fashion, Singer, who hails from the small town of Midland, Michigan, was humbled by his adoring fans. “I wrote this song in high school when I only dreamt of playing Lollapalooza,” he said before diving into his song “Fierce.”
Evidently, Singer’s affinity toward his fans is mutual. The audience sang along to every single song, and before Singer closed with the banger “High Hopes,” someone yelled “I’m proud of you!”
On the BMI stage, singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun delivered one of the day’s most memorable performances. Buttery harmonies, gritty blues guitar and Oladokun’s authentic stage presence set her apart. After opening with her bouyant indie pop song “smoke,” Oladokun explained “That song’s about pot and my girlfriend. That’s my life – pot and cute girls.”
Singing about her identity as a queer woman of color, Oladokun has become an important voice in the Black and LGBTQ+ communities. Her song “i see america,” which Oladokun performed in an earth-shattering medley with Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” is a meditation on the 1992 Rodney King Riots and last summer’s George Floyd protests. “As a near-30-year-old, it’s fucking exhausting” to continually mourn Black death, Oladokun said before launching into the song that marries folk and R&B influences.
Oladokun closed with a medley of her song “Sunday” and Prince’s “The Cross,” an easy synthesis between songs that deploy measured beats and deal with religious themes. “I would love for you to forever associate me with Prince, how he can make you think and dance at the same time,” Oladokun mused. But with her deliberate lyrics, propensity for writing catchy songs and electric energy, an association with the musical icon isn’t unwarranted.
Chicago’s band Whitney lit up the Tito’s stage with their brand of pastel rock that combines folk and country influences. Whitney doesn’t do much except stand onstage and play, but what they lack in histrionics they make up for with musicianship and an ability to emanate chill vibes.
Though Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek comprise the heart of the band, they play live as a seven-piece equipped with three guitars, bass, keyboard, drums and a horn. They were backed by a small strings section during Saturday’s set, giving songs like their hit “No Woman” a gentle, bask-in-the-sunset feel.
In the evening, Megan Thee Stallion drew a crowd that rivaled Miley Cyrus’, definitively confirming that the rap icon should have been slated as a headliner. “If you love yourself, make some mother fuckin’ noise!” she shouted before uttering her signature “drop that shit” and diving into a set chocked with hit after hit.
Megan stopped the familiar intro of “Savage” mid-chord to ask the savages in the audience to make some noise, one of the many times she beseeched the crowd to celebrate self-acceptance and female empowerment.
Unsurprisingly, Megan and her back up dancers twerked their way through “W.A.P” and “Body,” hits that rip suggestive lyrics from male artists’ mouths in an act of sexual reclamation. The lyrics “Pay my tuition just to kiss me / On this wet-ass pussy” rang especially significant, as Megan announced she’ll graduate from Texas Southern University this fall.
Megan, who identifies as queer, touched on LGBTQ+ themes as well. “If you like girls make some noise! If you like boys make some noise!” she called to the crowd. “If you like boys and girls, make some noise!” The latter elicited the loudest cheers.
If anything, Megan’s jaw-dropping set served as a reminder that Lollapalooza should continue to diversify its lineup by slating acts that amplify BIPOC and queer voices.
Featured image: Erika Goldring for BMI.
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.