Eminem capped Lollapalooza's uneven first day with more unevenness. Doling out a 30-song set that spanned hits and misses that began with some scene-setting verses ("Bad Guy," "3 a.m.," "Kill You"), Eminem floated through all of them with an unflagging manic energy, making his anxious stage charisma seem mannered rather than sustained. The obvious high points were the prime-era Dre-produced tracks, which were the only songs he truly seemed to inhabit. When Rihanna showed up for a Top 40 trifecta of "Monster," "Love The Way You Lie" and to fill the Dido spot on "Stan" she was a respite, but there was little palpable connection between them. Rihanna seemed like a phenomenally glamorous stranger who had happened to waltz up on stage — an object for Eminem to orbit around. (The brief appearance by perdurable sidekick Royce Da 5'9" for "Fast Lane" was a strange reminder of what it looks like when an audience connects with a performer's energy, not merely their songs.)
Two issues plagued the set, one being uneven sound (vocals were almost inaudible post-Rihanna); the other was the casual use of thundering and sudden gunshot samples used to end songs and mark changes throughout the set. It's a cheap trick to get the audience's adrenaline up and one that had fans both screaming and hitting the deck in well-founded fright. It's been suggested that this was a particularly callous idea in a city that in 2014 has logged 1,254 shooting victims (as of Lollapalooza weekend), but Eminem is two decades into a career built on caustic, myopic regard of his own problems — why would he suddenly care about ours?