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Lollapalooza covers Bruno Mars, LL Cool J and queer musicians
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

Grant Park has hosted Lollapalooza Music Festival since 2005—and this year, the Aug. 2-5 event was bigger and hotter than ever.

There were more than 100,000 festivalgoers walking through the park each day, even with temperatures climbing to higher than 90 degrees at times. While there were the usual fence-jumpers, a few arrests and some hospitalizations, the sheer amount of the crowds decreased from last year. Watering stations and cooling buses helped combat the blazing heat for baked festival goers. At least there was no electrical storm this year to force an evacuation, so the weather was an improvement, in some ways. Some people now watch the festival on livestream broadcasts in air conditioning, but there is still nothing like experiencing it live and in person.

This year, there were noticeably more pop artists in the lineup, with headliners Bruno Mars and The Weeknd drawing in tons of teens Aug. 2-5. Khalid, Camila Cabello, Dua Lipa and Bebe Rexha packed their individual stages with eager young listeners, thanks to the musicians' radio-friendly hits. ( It just doesn't get more pop than Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." ) Top Ten Post Malone should have been booked as a headliner he was so popular and seemed clearly touched by the overwhelming turnout.

Out and proud queer acts over the course of the festival included New Jersey's FLETCHER, songwriter Morgxn, and one member of The Aces all girl rock band. Chance the Rapper did not crash his bisexual brother Taylor Bennett's set who played his new EP Be Yourself with rapper Twista as a surprise guest.

A rainbow of fans turned up and were not afraid to express themselves in style and attitude over the course of the festival. A makeup smeared St. Vincent aka Annie Clark gave a shout out to all gender types for the song "Slow Disco" including non-binary people.

Many performers identified as straight but were strong allies when talking backstage with Windy City Times. Singer MAX made a surprise appearance to perform with electronic duo Galantis and said how excited he is to play Market Days the weekend after Lolla.

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Another star heading for bigger things is Justin Bieber protege Madison Beer, who fanned out about RuPaul's Drag Race and Drag Con. Beer also mentioned having a gay grandfather.

Minneapolis rapper/singer Lizzo covered TLC's "Scrubs" at the Tito's Handmade Vodka Stage after a long night performing at Berlin Nightclub the previous evening. She described her late-night performance as a great time, then English crooner James Bay ( recently interviewed in WCT ) walked up to catch up about his travels to Australia. Speaking of the land Down Under, Australian singer Amy Shark chatted to our publication about how important it was for her to have her tune in the gay film Love, Simon.

Michigan rockers Greta Van Fleet have many saying they were a highpoint to day two with some solid playing, sounding like Led Zeppelin.

Rapper Logic made several fans feel special as he asked the crowd to call them by name since they had waited since 6 a.m. to see the show.

Nineteen-year-old producer Oshi played music before The National who failed to compete with the fireworks and fun of Bruno Mars across the park. Closing down the festival on Friday night had the same feeling of a Super Bowl halftime show with Mars sporting a Bulls jersey. The Hawaiian native has a smooth and polished act that was full of "Finesse."

On day three, things heated with rising temperatures and rap acts like LL Cool J, who followed young fan favorite Lil Pump. After his DJ's laptop overheated, Pump left the stage with a shortened set that left the huge crowd disappointed and frustrated. Throwing water bottles at the stage only seemed to stir the already heightened security in attendance at the lip of the stage. Saving the day on the neighboring stage, LL showed what a seasoned professional can do with a crowd pleaser like "I'm Bad" and a proper DJ.

Later, R&B singer Daniel Caesar sang over smooth beats under the trees of the American Eagle stage. Newcomer Lauv lit up his new EP the day before on the same stage for a respectable set. This is area is one of the best spots to relax on the grass and listen to music at a sometimes frenzied festival.

Dueling set times had indie band Vampire Weekend competing with The Weeknd on a larger stage. Fresh off the LGBT music festival LOVELOUD, poor Zedd had to compete with both weekenders at Perry's stage during the same time slot.

Sunday ( Aug. 5 ) continued to boil with high temperatures throughout the day. The BMI Stage was nicely shaded for acts like rockers The Wrecks and the smooth solo act Grace Weber, who sang Michael Jackson's "Human Nature."

It was just too blazing hot to head-bang with The Vaccines at the Bud Light Stage, leaving only the most devoted punk rockers.

Jack White closed and cooled down the massive music festival. With a special show at Metro the night before when he started 1:30 a.m. makes one wonder when the talented man sleeps. Maybe he's a vampire on the weekend.

With so much hot music over a long four days, I might not be able to feel my melted face either, Mr. Weeknd, but I still love it!

Keep watch on lollapalooza.com for early tickets to next year's festival.

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