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40 Best Things We Saw at Lollapalooza 2014

Chicago turns up with Eminem, Outkast, Skrillex and some heavily costumed fans

lollapalooza

Drew Reynolds

With the skyline in the background, Lollapalooza once again brought three days of music to Chicago's Grant Park. Kings of Leon and Artic Monkeys rocked out, Skrillex and Calvin Harris kept the crowd dancing, Outkast and Nas rapped some of the greatest verses ever written, Iggy Azalea played her song of the summer and a few dedicated people dressed up as those inflatable tube-men that wave outside car dealerships. Here the best things we saw.

Jagwar Ma

Jagwar Ma

Drew Reynolds

Best Reason to Dance in the Rain (Light Spray Edition): Jagwar Ma

Jagwar Ma came out as Friday's only rainfall was finishing up and the Australian indietronica act's house vibes and echo-y vocals made for a perfect soundtrack to the light sprays causing festivalgoers to put on their ponchos and whip out their umbrellas. Beginning with Howlin' opener "What Love" was either a perfect coincidence or an appropriate setlist change with lead singer Gabriel Winterfield in full unhinged mode and repeating the lyric "waiting for tomorrow brings another day another sun" as the light started to peak through the clouds. The group kept their set upbeat, highly danceable, and Nineties alt-esque for its entirety with tracks like "Uncertainty" and "Let Her Go" serving as crowd-pleasing favorites for the packed audience at the shaded Grove stage.

Bomba Estereo

Bomba-Estereo performs at Lollapalooza in Grant Park on August 3rd, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Credit: Alex Reside

Alex Reside

Best Reason to Dance in the Rain (Heavy Downpour Edition): Bomba Estereo

It is a testament to Bomba Estéreo's showmanship that their crowd doubled in size as buckets of rain doused Lollapalooza on Sunday afternoon. The psychedelic electro-poppers from Colombia shrugged in response, paint-streaked singer-rapper Li Saumet shaking her blue headdress toward the grey sky and continuing to sing her bilingual preachings of peace and goodwill, shouting the ebullient chorus of "Pure Love" (from their great 2012 disc Elegancia Tropical) over piercing synths and heart-rattling percussion. The faithful flung up their hands and remained in her thrall, dancing through the worst of the day's storm; tellingly, those who'd queued up across the field for Delta Rae scrambled for cover like they were steerage class on the Titanic.

Meg Myers

Meg Myers performs at Lollapalooza on August 2nd, 2014 in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. Credit: Alex Reside

Alex Reside

Best Bad Girl: Meg Myers

Myers has had some minor success (the corny "Monster," the explicit "Desire") in the last two years with videos that present her as more unhinged Fiona Apple — which is not a necessarily a bad look. Myers' career seems like it stands a chance if only she (or, perhaps, her label?) could figure out what kind of artist she is going to be beyond a jumble of bad-girl clichés. However, Myers has a tremendously powerful voice that most immediately recalls Evanescence's Amy Lee, and much like Lee, you have to wonder what Myers is doing with this band. In Myers' case, she's in a sometimes-pop, sometimes metal-ballads band with an electric cello. With an occasional EDM-lite drop in the chorus. And Myers playing an acoustic guitar and singing sweetly, nervously tugging down her crop top and swimsuit bottoms. And then closing the set like she's auditioning for a screamo band, flinging her body around in a way that make's Lorde's stage moves look like that of a sedated Tai Chi master. Get thee to a proper metal band, Meg Myers!

 

Gramatik

Alex Reside

Best Use of Flute: Gramatik

Even money that Slovenian EDM DJ-producer Gramatik is a huge Anchorman fan: He began his Saturday afternoon Perry's Stage set with a piercing, interminable flute trill. Gramatik (real name Denis Jasarevic) favored cuts from his 2011 album Beatz & Pieces Vol. 1, including his zydeco-influenced "The Drink Is Called Rakija" and the reggae-leaning "Break Loose," and he also paired live sax and trumpet with those heavy dubstep beats and glitchy bass drops. A mid-set highlight: He seamlessly mixed "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder with "Digital Liberation Is Mad Free" by Grizmatik (Gramatik's side project with the producer Griz) — and no flutes were harmed in the process.

Delta Rae

Alex Reside

Best Irony-Crushing Earnestness: Delta Rae

"This is a Christian band, right?" a gent in a neon Cool Story Bro tank asked us urgently. "They have to be." He said this just as the singer-guitarist Ian Holljes let out a roaring "We're so fucking excited to be here," complicating the case, but the question was understandable: Throughout their set, Delta Rae projected a freshly-scrubbed enthusiasm bordering on Ned Flanders levels of earnestness. ("We live together in a house in the woods," cried singer Brittany Holljes at one point. "It's great!") The North Carolina folk-poppers led a stomping, stirring a capella take on "Bottom of the River," a single from 2012's Carry the Fire, but it was a cover of "Because the Night" (written by Bruce Springsteen and Chi-town native Patti Smith) that most roused their audience — and was delivered by singers Holljes and Elizabeth Hopkins with beaming smiles, of course.