The third day of Lollapalooza 2023 highlighted the big presence of several South Korean acts this year, including Tomorrow x Together headlining for the first time on Saturday (they performed earlier in the day in 2022) and the fest also featured its first-ever K-pop girl group NewJeans on Thursday, marking the group’s first-ever U.S. performance. It also featured great hip-hop sets, including headliner Pusha T.
The day also featured a steady course of rain, which muddied the fields and likely contributed to it feeling not as crowded throughout the day as Thursday and Friday. Still, it fueled some artists’ sets, such as the Linda Lindas. Here’s a roundup of some of the best acts we saw — including J.I.D, Alex G, and more.
Tomorrow x Together Stake Their Claim as a K-pop Band Unlike the Others
Tomorrow x Together aren’t your average K-pop band. Between the consistently cheerful mood of the music and their natural showmanship onstage, the most apt comparison for Saturday night’s headliner isn’t a fellow K-pop act like BTS, but rather a crowd-pleasing artist like Bruno Mars. The five-piece stacked their set list with bright, melodic songs like “Farewell, Neverland” and brought out Coi Leray for a surprise cameo during “Happy Fools,” holding the attention of curious onlookers who eventually took a seat to watch its entirety.
Even the night’s ballads, from the glitchy “Lonely Boy” to the soft trap beat beneath “Anti-Romantic,” aerated hooks to keep the mood light. “This feels unreal for me,” Soobin said of their headlining status, a bit slack-jawed. TxT shared that feeling with the rest of their crew, too, inviting backup dancers into the spotlight one by one and introducing each band member by emblazoning their name and instrument across the screen as they soloed. Fans who queued early, blue cross-adorned light sticks in hand, got to prove their adoration by singing along to TxT’s unreleased track “Blue Spring” and witness a band who didn’t take any part of the experience for granted. –N.C.
Pusha T Transforms Perry’s Into Yayopalooza
While one end of Grant Park took in cheerful K-pop from Tomorrow x Together and the other got down to Odesza, Pusha T held court to close out Perry’s stage, where fans screamed along to his fiery rhymes about cooking crack and selling drugs. More than a decade after going solo, the former dope dealer continues to find clever ways to tackle the high-stakes game he long ago left behind, with clever metaphors, wry delivery, and continually inventive ways to tackle his favorite subject. At Lolla, he expounded on the topic visually, with a set that included a bank of “snow” alongside a snow globe that welcomed everyone to Yayopalooza.
“Cocaine’s Dr. Seuss” — as King Push declared himself on opening track “Let the Smokers Shine the Coupes” — covered a lot of ground from his three-decade career, despite a bit of a late start and a set that ended before the rest of the headliners. Another standout from 2022’s It’s Almost Dry included made-for-summer banger “Neck and Wrist:” “We fishscale n—–, like we all Pisces,” he spit in a metaphoric reference to purer flaky cocaine. He also dropped the hook-laden bop “Diet Coke.” Beyond his own solo songs, he showcased his features (“Move That Dope,” “Runaway,”) and brought it back to his roots performing “Grindin’” from Clipse, the duo he formed with his brother Malice. –A.L.
The Linda Lindas Battle Rainstorms With Their Own Booming Anger
After more than a year on the road, with pauses to resume school, the Linda Lindas are frustrated by what they’ve seen. Bassist Eloise Wong’s face-painted whiskers suggested she’s a docile 15-year-old, but she introduced “Fine” by rightly ranting about the problems that persist in America: LGBTQ+ rights, racism, climate change, subpar gun control. “A lot of people will say it’s fine, but you know what, it’s not,” she decried. “We have to do something.” Their entire set — from hit “Racist, Sexist Boy” to new single “Resolution/Revolution” and their Bikini Kill cover — was dark and brooding, their power-pop hooks drenched in punk-rock frustration. Soaked from the rain and revved up, the poncho-laden crowd was feeling it, too; they chanted the Linda Lindas name long after they left the stage, eager to vent some more. –N.C.
Mavi Keeps It Real By Staying Mellow
There was something disarming about Mavi’s set that made you trust him. The 23-year-old rapper from Charlotte, South Carolina writes confessional hip-hop that’s verbose and reflective; he chalks it up to the impact of everything from Zora Neale Hurston to collaborating with Alchemist. Drawing inspiration from MF Doom and Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, Mavi’s flow was unbroken and mellow, like a puff of smoke curling into the air. That delivery explained why Laughing So Hard, It Hurts cuts like “Reason!” and “Doves” hypnotized the crowd. By the end, Mavi climbed into the crowd to rattle off the lengthy 2019 track “Selflove” where people absorbed his lyrics like revelations. Mavi doesn’t just learn from his life lessons; he shares them. –N.C.
Suki Waterhouse Channels Her Inner Daisy Jones
As an entertainment jack-of-all-trades — model, actor, and, after releasing her debut album and EP last year, singer-songwriter — Suki Waterhouse had fans in the palm of her hand before stepping onstage in a white jumpsuit and matching boots. The 31-year-old Daisy Jones & the Six star reveled in her own band spotlight akin to the TV series. Less Fleetwood Mac and more Mazzy Star doing the Walkmen, Waterhouse charmed with retro-pop on breathier numbers like “Devil I Know” and “Johanna.” (The latter was dedicated to “women’s rights, and also women’s wrongs.”) Her real fan service was lending them the illusion of influence. While introducing a new song, she asked for their honest opinion: “Will you let me know if this should be my next single? I’m bad at choosing them.” As soon as Waterhouse hit its prolonged high note, their answer was obvious based on freakout shrieks alone. –N.C.
Sylvan Esso Freshen Up Their Greatest Hits
Although singer Amelia Meath was writhing around in a neon green leotard and tropical joggers with dozens of friendship bracelets on both wrists, Sylvan Esso’s stage presence this year was quite minimal: a raised platform for producer Nick Samborn and their simple logo projected on a screen. The duo left the spectacle to their singular version of electro-pop. It was a festival set in that it was back-to-back hits — “Radio,” “Hey Mami,” “Coffee,” “Echo Party” — but Sylvan Esso knew their crowd. Onlookers got lost in the moment to each one, dancing in place, hands twirling in the sprinkling rain, heads rolling with eyes closed. Sylvan Esso may be a festival favorite in that way, delivering a typical set, but it never felt dialed in the way Meath danced across the stage or Samborn broke into reactive smiles so often that wrinkles formed around his eyes. –N.C.
J.I.D Takes Fans On a Journey
“This shit’s gonna be a fucking journey,” J.I.D told the crowd at his set. “There’s gonna be highs and lows.” And the ride was a great one, ranging from chest-rattling bangers to pretty, piano-buoyed tracks that highlighted his gifts as a rapper, singer, and wordsmith. The swinging “Bruddanem” and the poignant tribute to his friend’s son that died “Kody Blu 31” and “Stars” — all from last year’s The Forever Story — spotlighted the more chill moments. Meanwhile, the rapid-fire “Off Deez” and “151 Rum” turned-up the heat and the crowd. He also repped his label Dreamville, delivering “Down Bad,” and “Stick,” his collab with label founder J. Cole. –A.L.
Maggie Rogers Puts in the Vocal Work
Performing “Want Want” so early in her set was a bold move by Maggie Rogers. More rock than folk-pop as far as her catalog goes, the song serves as a launchpad for one particularly massive vocal note. Rogers nailed it, using both lungs to belt it out, and her big singing moment served as a calling card pumped through the speakers for fans to come running closer. Rogers sounded best when showing off what her trained vocals can do, be it the wordless scales on “Give a Little” or segueing into the inevitable falsettos of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” from “Retrograde.” Even the punched-up acoustic track “Love You for a Long Time” got extra vocal trills. Given the space and built-in audience size of the second main stage, those moments hinted at just how big Rogers could become if she keeps exploring how far her voice can go. –N.C.
Alex G Hits His Stride
For the majority of his career as a musician and producer, Alex G has created a raw, swoon-worthy world of lo-fi indie rock whose warmth is immediately identifiable. Translating his albums into a live setting, however, was notoriously a weak point until recently. Beneath the glow of a rainbow, Alex G and his bandmates delivered massive, emotive renditions of God Save the Animals tracks “Runner,” “Miracles,” and “Mission.” Even older favorites like “Mary” (which he jokingly introduced as deep cut “Treehouse” before apologizing for getting hopes up) recreated the crackling warmth of the recorded version. What a welcome treat to see his live show not just replicate that sound, but, come the jammy outro of closer “Forgive,” expand upon it into something beautiful and all-encompassing in new ways. –N.C.