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Lollapalooza 2016: 25 Best Things We Saw

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Lollapalooza celebrated its 25th anniversary by becoming bigger than ever before: The music festival expanded from three to four days at its home base of Chicago's Grant Park and packed in as many newcomers and Lolla vets as possible over the decade-spanning weekend. Beyond the performances, the festival grounds were filled with fun activities and delicious food for fans who needed a break from dancing and singing along at the many stages of Perry Farrell's long-running summer celebration. Here are 25 of the best things we saw at Lollapalooza 2016. 

Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw, Harold's Chicken

Andy Keilen for Rolling Stone

Best Taste of Chicago: Harold’s Chicken in Evanston

A true Chicagoan knows that the best fried chicken in and around the city comes from Harold's. Visitors from out-of-town and locals alike were able to partake in the suburban delicacy in Lolla's Chow Town South where a stand was erected for the hungry festivalgoers. Both the chicken and the fried okra were popular meals, breaking up the choices between more unusual fare like lobster corndogs and the several pizza stands. 

Da Beers, Craft Beer, Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw

Andy Keilen for Rolling Stone

Best Hideaway: Da Beers

Over near the Pepsi stage in the northern half of Grant Park, Lolla's craft beers tent — Da Beers — served as the perfect spot to escape both the rain and the heat. The main, huge bar area featured a large space covered with a roof where hoards of unprepared roamers camped out during the heaviest rain on Thursday and Friday. By Saturday and Sunday, the shaded area filled with benches and games like cornhole and ping-pong became a popular reprieve from the heat between treks across the lengthy grounds.

Haim, Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw

Koury Angelo for Rolling Stone

Best Drum Solo: Haim

Haim are festival pros, with their brand of throwback-y California rock basically existing to be performed outdoors and for large crowds of music-lovers. Sisters Alana, Danielle and Este are natural, now-seasoned performers, breathing new life into songs off 2013's Days Are Gone, like "The Wire" and "If I Could Change Your Mind." They debuted new songs like the Peter Gabriel-meets-Wilson Phillips "Nothing's Wrong," but really revved up the exhausted Sunday crowd with a drum solo featuring all three sisters and drummer Dash Hutton who all banged in unison for a few minutes of heart-revving bliss towards the end of their set.

Vic Mensa, Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw

Andy Keilen for Rolling Stone

Best Use of Platform: Vic Mensa

Chicago's very own Vic Mensa turned his set into a protest, speaking out on the water crisis in Flint and the inaccessibility of such an expensive music festival to the poorer communities of the city where it takes place. Much of his performance featured a team of dancers sporting the type of riot gear typically worn by police officers and featured an on-stage wedding between two of the dancers during the LGBTQ rights song "Free Love." A pantomime of Mensa being held down by the officers during the song "16 Shots," recalled the death of Laquan McDonald. After the raucous "U Mad," the officers pointed their weapons at Mensa as he stood on top of a platform above the stage, a powerful image for the rising rapper.

Alessia Cara, Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw

Koury Angelo for Rolling Stone

Best Future Headliner: Alessia Cara

Alessia Cara was placed on a side stage this year, but judging by the crowd that was spilling out into Chow Town, the 20-year-old will soon be gathering those fans for a spot on a main stage in prime time. Cara's voice sounded like it was filling up the entirety of Grant Park as she blazed through songs off her debut album Know-It-All and EP Four Pink Walls, showing off all the tricks she's learned opening up for Coldplay on their stadium tour. In between songs, Cara was a natural at offering empowering anecdotes and advice, especially before singles "Scars to Your Beautiful" and "Here" that got the entire space singing along.

The 1975, 1975, Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw

Koury Angelo for Rolling Stone

Best Sunset Soundtrack: The 1975

The 1975 took the stage just as the sun was preparing to go down on Thursday, and the indie pop act was the perfect group to usher in a cooler, dryer evening. Singer Matty Healy took the stage in a pastel suit, introducing the 1975 as "your new favorite band," which may have proved to be true for some lingering around to catch them before Lana Del Rey performed there later that night. Using the massive towers that are featured in their current stage show, the 1975 filled the Bud Light stage with pinks and purples for a sleek, gorgeous set while dancing to sweet, catchy tunes like "Love Me," "Ugh!" and "Girls." 

Vince Staples, Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw

Andy Keilen for Rolling Stone

Best Crowd: Vince Staples

Long Beach, California's Vince Staples drew not only the most diverse crowd of the festival's entire weekend, but he also kept them in check better than any other artist. Staples lightly teased and threatened his fans, noting that he would risk arrest to beat up anyone who threw things at him, even telling one fan he would "slap" him for his annoying antics in the front row. All of Staples comments were — mostly — in jest and delivered in the same dry, off-the-cuff style that makes his Twitter a standout and songs so brilliant. 

Third Eye Blind, Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw

Koury Angelo for Rolling Stone

Best Throwback Sing-Along: Third Eye Blind

The Petrillo Bandshell was ill-equipped for the number of fans that crowded the area to see Third Eye Blind, a band who hasn't charted a pop hit in more than 15 years. The stage, adjacent to the much larger space of the Bud Light Stage, faced a consistently growing number of fans to catch 3EB's Lolla debut. The set-up and placement of the bandshell — the sole pre-existing stage in Grant Park — made it difficult for some audience members to see and hear the stage from certain angles but that did not deter them from sticking around to belt out the lyrics to classic songs like "Jumper," "Semi-Charmed Life" and "Never Let You Go."

Marshmello

Andy Keilen for Rolling Stone

Best Mystery: Marshmello

No one seems 100% sure who Marshmello really is but the mystery of his identity mixed with his sweetly chaotic blend of EDM makes him festival gold. One of the weekend's biggest crowds for the Perry's Stage formed for the white helmeted DJ on Saturday as he powered through pop and hip-hop hits like Jack Ü and Justin Bieber's "Where Are Ü Now," Fetty Wap's "Trap Queen" and Desiigner's "Panda" above pure bass. At one point, A$AP Ferg popped on stage for a performance of "New Level" that made the entire crowd go bonkers.

Justice 4 Harambe, Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw, Harambe

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Best Meme for Bros: Harambe

The death of Harambe the gorilla — who was shot after a child fell into his enclosure at the Cincinatti Zoo— has gone the way of many other shocking news stories: It has become an internet meme. Harambe jokes litter Twitter and Tumblr and have crossed over into festival season, with many tank-top bros sporting signs emblazoned with "Justice 4 Harambe" and other notes to the late gorilla throughout the weekend. It was one of the weirder festival props in a weekend filled with Steve Buscemi heads and Disney character balloons.

Snakehips, Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw

Koury Angelo for Rolling Stone

Best Sunday Come-Down: Snakehips

U.K. electronic music duo Snakehips provided one of the more soothing dance parties of the weekend. It came with perfect timing on Sunday afternoon as the weekend began to wrap up. Snakehips eased the crowd into the evening with their silky, dreamy beats and remixes, while featuring cuts like Baauer's "GoGo!" and Soulja Boy's "Crank That" in full. Naturally, they wrapped up their time with "All My Friends," their hit collaboration with Tinashe and Chance the Rapper, though the latter, sadly, did not show up for the song as he had done throughout the weekend for other sets.

Leon Bridges

Andy Keilen for Rolling Stone

Best Cover: Leon Bridges

"Y'all mind if I take it back to 1996 for a minute?" Leon Bridges asked before launching into his slowed-down take on unofficial Magic Mike theme song "Pony" by Ginuwine. He probably had to ask since his Sam Cooke-reminiscent sound is so deeply indebted to the early Sixties. Bridges dedicated the sexy "Pony" to all the bachelors looking for a partners across the festival grounds. The cover was a brief moment for the rising star to take a break between running across the stage and shimmying between his band members on songs like "Lisa Sawyer" and "Twistin' and Groovin'."

MØ, Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw

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Best Trooper: Mø

The rain was hitting hardest during Mø's Friday set, making for a muddy ground and several technical difficulties. The Danish singer handled all of it in stride, graciously thanking her audience for sticking with her as her microphone cut in and out. For the finale, she gave her all, performing her Major Lazer collaboration "Lean On" as fans danced in the downpour and she made her way to the barricade. Once there she performed the song's final chorus while crowd surfing over the first few rows of the audience. Later, Major Lazer experienced even worse technical difficulties — experiencing two power outages during their headlining set — but all was resolved just in time for Mø to reprise "Lean On."

Kiiara, Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw

Andy Keilen for Rolling Stone

Best Sad Girl: Kiiara

Lana Del Rey may be the reigning Sad Girl Queen of pop, but even with LDR's Thursday closing set, Kiiara took home the crown for the weekend. The Illinois native and musical newcomer performed her set in an oversized raincoat under grey clouds, which meshed wonderfully with her Kitty Pryde-esque cloud-rapping and minimalist beats. Between tracks off her debut EP Low Kii Savage, Kiiara debuted new material from her upcoming album, which showed that she more coming in the vein of her left-field alt-pop hit "Gold."

Kehlani, Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw

Andy Keilen for Rolling Stone

Best Reason to Brave the Afternoon Rain: Kehlani

Kehlani's Thursday afternoon set was peppered with rain and audio issues, but the singer pushed forward and gave a spirited performance early on in the weekend. After a tough personal year, the R&B star proved that it's possibly to triumph over tragedy. She was all smiles as she blazed through songs off her 2015 mixtape You Should Be Here, like standouts "Jealous" and "The Way."

Miley Buns, Lollapalooza, 25, Best Things We Saw

Andy Keilen for Rolling Stone

Best Hair Trend: Miley Buns

For many attendees, the perfect festival 'do meant throwing it all the way back to 2013. People tied up all or parts of their hair to sport a duo of top-knots recalling Miley Cyrus' hairstyle from the 2013 VMAs where she twerked her way out of a large bear and all over Robin Thicke. The Miley Buns were seen in every crowd, most likely because even as the weather soaked everything in sight, the hairstyle seemed to still be holding up for most of the attendees.

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