Metallica returns to Chicago as Lollapalooza 2022 kicks off in Grant Park

Nothing brings a festival to a halt faster than a storm. But despite the rain early Thursday in Chicago, Grant Park was in good shape and mostly dry when Lollapalooza’s first day kicked off with headlining performances from Bay Area thrash metal legends Metallica, rapper Lil Baby, singer-songwriter Caroline Polachek and electronic musician and producer Zhu.

Zhu, who performed Thursday night at Lollapalooza ahead of a slated Saturday night aftershow at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom (capacity 5,000), has the rare luxury of staying in town and soaking up the atmosphere at the instead of going immediately to the next stop on the tour.

“One of the things I like about festivals is unknown acts and random things. So I’m going to leave it up to chance,” said Zhu, who released a new mixtape this morning, of his plan. of the weekend.” When I was kind of anonymous and wrapped up — which I always love — there was that kind of sense of intimacy. Now I think stages like this – with so many people – it’s a really tough challenge. But I still want that feeling to exist.

Like fellow electronic artists deadmau5, Marshmello and Daft Punk, Zhu began his career behind a mask, opting for the anonymity it provided. With an ongoing goal of connecting people and emphasizing a spirit of togetherness, the unmasked challenge now is to recreate the spirit of a club in front of tens of thousands of fans in a field on the festival stage. .

“It’s very different. I think deep in my heart I would be anonymous 24/7 if I could. There’s something really nice about being able to be in the club, to be a person in the crowd and also ride [and perform]. People didn’t even know who was walking behind them,” he explained. “I think if you’re still up there [on stage], you have trouble seeing what the ground is in, you know? I really care about the dance floor, so I need to know what moves people.

Liverpool indie rockers The Wombats perform early Thursday afternoon in Chicago, thumping their latest studio album Fix yourself, not the world for an hour on the Coinbase stage.

“It was hot! It was very hot. But we handled it well,” singer and guitarist Matthew Murphy said. “My wife is from here, so I know how nice the people of Chicago are. and it’s always a pleasure to come back here, so it’s great.

“This is our third time at Lollapalooza and I think it was the best so far,” confirmed drummer Dan Haggis. “I think it was the first time we were here, we played the set – beautiful blue skies – and then there was some kind of crazy storm. A thunderstorm. And the whole site was evacuated,” he recalled. “We ended up walking into a bar down the street and we got sparred with some locals – shots of tequila. Then we went back and continued the festival. So it was a moment.

Thursday’s Lollapalooza slate featured a slew of international rock acts. Irish rockers Inhaler played for sixty minutes on the Bud Light Seltzer main stage at the northern end of the festival after an aftershow on Wednesday night.

“It’s a bit of a fever dream for us. Because we used to watch some of our favorite bands on the livestream doing Chicago Lollapalooza. It was really a big problem. And now we do it here, which is kind of weird,” vocalist/guitarist Eli Hewson said, pointing to previous performances of Lolla by artists like Cage the Elephant and The Strokes. “People have recently asked us what our goals are? Well, it was one of them. And Glastonbury was one of them. So we will have to update it very soon.

Eli Hewson is the son of U2 frontman Paul Hewson, better known as Bono, and Inhaler’s performance was available to stream via Hulu’s Lollapalooza livestream, with two channels throughout the weekend.

At Grant Park early in the day before their 3 p.m. performance, Inhaler took the opportunity to catch some more acts.

“Just today we got to listen to a bit of Sam Fender’s set from our dressing room,” said drummer Ryan McMahon. “What a great way to get motivated for our gig by listening to some of his music. We’re huge fans.

Lollapalooza has a nearly flawless track record of getting bands on stage on time and without a hitch. But things are not always perfect. Scheduled to perform for an hour Thursday on the Tito’s Handmade Vodka stage at the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park, Fender missed nearly half of it due to technical issues. But the rising English rocker persevered, nonetheless delivering a fiery set in the remaining time.

“Well, we had a fucking nightmare. We had a nightmare,” Fender said, shaking his head over a cold beer after the shoot. “There was a problem with all the equipment. The crew did not understand. But then we got on stage and it ended up being a great show – for what we got to play,” he said. “Before all the gear was working, I went solo, played, and managed to get a song out. The 25 minutes that we managed to pull off, however many songs we were able to get, was amazing, you know?

Since his second album of the same name, Fender’s “Seventeen Going Under” went viral on Tik Tok last year and amassed nearly 110 million streams on Spotify, proving a viable source of income in a time when it’s par elsewhere difficult to monetize recorded music.

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“It is absurd. I remember the label telling us to get on Tik Tok and use that as a platform. And, at the time, I was like, ‘I’m 26. I feel a bit old for being on Tik Tok. It’s such a young platform – it’s 14 years old. So I really hesitated. I didn’t want to do it,” Fender admitted. “And then the f–ing single blew up. We have a top 3 single. For an indie band – a guitar band – to get into the singles charts, even top 20, in the UK is almost impossible. The last time someone got a top 10 single for a guitar band was in 2013 and it was Arctic Monkeys. So that’s to put into perspective how crazy it was. It was special for me, you know?

“26 years ago, in 1996, Perry Farrell took a chance on inviting Metallica to Lollapalooza for the first time – there was a bit of an as-t show that followed,” Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich recalled. of the band’s placement on Lollapalooza 1996. “You know what, Chicago? Every time it gets better.”

In 1996, Lollapalooza was in its sixth year as a traveling festival and creator of tastes and trends for alternative music. Metallica, already heavy metal icons, were a curious booking alongside Seattle grunge’s Soundgarden and punk rock legends The Ramones, a polarizing choice among some fans as the headliner when the festival moved to larger rooms.

Standing today as one of America’s premier rock bands, Metallica makes perfect sense as a headliner, returning to Grant Park for the first time since 2015.

“Lollapalooza! vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield shouted as Metallica returned to their debut album Kill them all nearly 39 years later, to the day after its July 25, 1983 release, kicking off their Chicago comeback with “Whiplash.”

“Good singing, y’all,” Hetfield told the giant festival crowd after “Nothing Else Matters.” “Not me, you. I need all the help I can get.

Thursday night’s set wasn’t perfect. And it belies the level of difficulty involved in recreating precise, complex and passionate thrash metal masterpieces 40 years after they were written and recorded by men approaching their 60s.

Thursday’s performance was warts and all, refreshing in a concert era dominated by backing tracks and other lies. And it was great.

“We are very lucky after 41 years to still be here kicking your ass and you kicking us,” said Hetfield, whose voice grew stronger over the course of about two hours.

The band boasted one of the most unique stagings in recent Lollapalooza history, bringing their snake pit ramp, allowing the band to weave their way through the crowd for a more intimate performance than which is usually possible on a festival stage.

Guitarist Kirk Hammett, dressed in glistening and sparkling black Chuck Taylors, stepped on an effects pedal as Hetfield surveyed the festival crowd. “Are you alive?!” he asked rhetorically as the band ripped into “Enter Sandman.”

Hetfield advocated for mental health awareness and a more open conversation about suicide as Metallica presented “Fade to Black”. Bassist Robert Trujillo spun his guitar as the fireworks soared, “Battery” opening the encore.

Pyro exploded from the stage as Metallica headed for the finish line with ‘One’ and ‘Master of Puppets’, with the band returning to the stage long after the set was over, waving and talking to an adoring crowd who simply refused. to leave.

“Are you having fun? Is the Metallica family here?” Hetfield joked. “I’m just checking.”

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