Lolla 2016 Day 3 recap: With perfect weather and strong lineup, only Lolla downside is fatigue

This is the day that the Lollapalooza faithful were hoping for: no rain, sunny skies, an occasionally cool and needed breeze throughout and a bunch of great music. While the big headline-getters were the marquee acts of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chicago's Vic Mensa and Disclosure, the undercard was also incredibly strong. On the north side of the festival grounds, a revelatory Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats made Petrillo put on its dancing shoes, Leon Bridges covered "Pony" at Bud Light stage and Chris Stapleton filled out Lollapalooza's token country slot swimmingly.

Other notable sets included a stellar, '90s-indebted dose of indie rock from Potty Mouth, an airy-pop spectacular from Chairlift and a magnetically glitchy performance from Grimes. Tom Morello also showed up to guest on a song or two from X Ambassadors (I hope he also shows up for Vince Staples). Personally, sets from Big Grams and Jane's Addiction were kind of lackluste, but that didn't put a damper on the day as a whole. Read RedEye's recap below.
—Josh Terry, music reporter

 

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats (3:45 p.m. Petrillo)

Powerful folk-blues rockers Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats were easily the best show I've seen all weekend. The energy was riding high with "I Need Never Get Old" from the band's namesake record, heavily loaded with Americana and gospel vibes, that came out last year. Formerly a solo artist, the Denver musician garnered attention after forming The Night Sweats, and the band was just as electric as Rateliff, who showed off by tossing his guitar in the air to a crew member off to the side of the stage several times. He slowed it down with a soulful delivery of "Wasting Time," but the show didn't lose steam as they seamlessly slid into "Shake," a smooth, sultry groove that allowed the band to jam a bit. It was a show both the crowd and the band couldn't sit still for, and the new song, a bluesy call-and-response number, is a good indication that more move-and-groove tunes are on the way. They closed out the set with the hit "S.O.B." that naturally generated an enormous audience response, with jumping and dancing. Crooning in his gruff voice, the revival tune is so lively and fun, you'd never know it's about alcoholism if you weren't listening to the words. While I certainly have an appreciation for his sad boy folk solo work on his 2010 record "In Memory of Loss," Rateliff has certainly grown as an artist with The Night Sweats. He told us today to expect a new record by the fall, so get ready for more fiery Americana.
—Heather Schroering, nightlife reporter

Leon Bridges (4:45 p.m Bud Light)

Opening with "Smooth Sailin'," Leon Bridges' set opened on a high note. Plopped straight out of a different era, Bridges lit up the Bud Light stage with his groovin' and croonin', the perfect addition to a sunny afternoon at Grant Park. Though his band seemed less than enthused to be there, Bridges himself had enough energy to bring the entire field ahead of him alive. Despite a lull midway through his set, causing him to ask the crowd, "Are you still with me, Lolla?!", Bridges brought it back with a sped-up version of his popular "Twistin' and Groovin'." And in a surprise twist nobody saw coming, he covered Ginuwine's "Pony" near the end of his set, causing everybody, for lack of a better phrase, to straight up lose their [bleep].
—Shelbie Bostedt, social media coordinator

Jack Garratt (5:15 p.m. Pepsi)

Jack Garratt was unfortunately scheduled during that Day 3 Lolla lull. He was an incredible performer to see live, singing and playing on a full range of instruments. Though he was very into his set and brought high energy, most of the members of the audience were more concerned with catching their breath in that stretch of time before the big acts began. There was a core group near the front of the stage that was very into what Garratt was bringing, but the rest of the crowd spent the set talking, texting and even playing cards. Still, the singer was aggressively adorable, introducing his final piece with, "Chicago, I have one more song if that's all right?"
—Lauren Chval, assistant entertainment editor

Chris Stapleton (5:45 p.m. Petrillo)

Country music is not my forte or preference when it comes to music, but if Lolla has taught me anything beyond "bring a poncho," it's that this is the one time of the year you should set aside all preconceived notions about any type of music and approach each stage with an open mind. The first time I heard about Chris Stapleton, and I suspect I'm not the only one, was when he performed with Justin Timberlake at the Country Music Awards. Since then, the country singer has crossed over into mainstream music awareness, and his set at the Petrillo stage showed why: While keeping his country identity intact, Stapleton also has songs that sound more rock than country, keeping well within Lolla's comfort zone. Surprisingly, my favorite song of his set was his rendition of "You are My Sunshine" with wife Morgane, which was perhaps one of the country-est of the songs he played Saturday afternoon (with the exception of closer "Tennessee Whiskey"), but it was a sweet showcase of how in-tune and talented the pair are. Stapleton chose to close out his set with a trio of slower songs—"Traveller," "Fire Away" and "Tennesee Whiskey," but instead of killing the energy that he got going earlier in the hour, it just turned it down to a slow but still intense and intimate simmer. I don't think he's made me a country fan, but if he performs at a few more award shows in the future, I won't be mad about it."
—Elise De Los Santos, executive editor

Houndmouth (6:30 p.m. Pepsi)

Hailing from New Albany, Ind., right across the river from my hometown Louisville, I've been following Houndmouth since their 2013 debut, "From the Hills Below the City." While some bands lose it with their sophomore record, the Americana country rockers nailed it on "Little Neon Limelight," which came out last year, and I'm not at all surprised to see them at Lollapalooza this year. With a true rock 'n' roll style and a vintage bad boy appeal, not unlike James Dean, Houndmouth delivered on rugged country jams like "Black Gold" and upbeat sing-along "Say It." While I miss the vocal harmonies from keyboardist Katie Toupin, who left the band earlier this year, the two saxophones made up for it, especially on the delightfully twangy "Hey Rose." I had the pleasure of catching them at Double Door last night, and I have to say this band of good ol' boys puts on a rockin' show in a smoky, gritty venue, but on both occasions, I'd argue that Houndmouth sounds even better live than on record.
—Heather Schroering, nightlife reporter

Grimes (7:30 p.m. Lake Shore)

Grimes set was incongruous in the best way. The tiny fireball of a musician has all of the spunk of a pop star akin to Carly Rae Jepsen, but with a sound as far from that trope as possible. As energetic a performer as you could hope for leading into the headliner hours, Grimes commanded the Lake Shore stage, getting a rise out of the crowd with literally anything she did. No, really, she tied her shoe and everybody lost their minds as she giggled into her microphone. With energy rivaling that of the Energizer Bunny, Grimes fed the crowd the enthusiasm they needed to immerse themselves in her music, and they fed it right back to her, not showing the wear and tear of having endured three days of Lolla thus far.
—Shelbie Bostedt, social media coordinator

Red Hot Chili Peppers (8:30 p.m. Samsung)

The area around the Samsung stage was full long before the Red Hot Chili Peppers' start time. The band I loved in middle school seems to be popular with everyone from teenagers to moms and dads, so the area was packed beyond a comfortable level. In fact, so many Lolla-goers appeared to be at the festival for the band that RHCP shirts overtook the ubiquitous basketball jerseys for the day. For a while, they seemed to be jamming white noise, making it all the more satisfying when they kicked into "Dani California." Other favorites like "Scar Tissue" and "Californication" kept the crowd going, as did the energy of the 40-something musicians, who didn't shy away from walking handstands and other onstage shenanigans. After the band wrapped, the crowd began cheering for an encore—"Five more songs!"—and the guys came out to play another two, ending with "Give It Away."
—Lauren Chval, assistant entertainment editor

Disclosure (8:30 p.m. Bud Light)

The crowd that was gathered at the Bud Light stage near the beginning of Disclosure's set seemed a bit thin, with both Lana Del Rey and Major Lazer attracting larger numbers of people on Thursday and Friday nights, respectively. But from the sluggish movements of the people that eventually made their way to that end of Grant Park, I think general festival fatigue was a major contributing factor to the relatively low turnout. Another contributing factor: the fact that the electronic music duo were playing at the same time as legendary rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. About 30 minutes into the set, a wave of festgoers departed, making no secret of the fact that "we gotta get to Red Hot Chili Peppers, bro!", but the hula hoop-wielding, baton-twirling, light-up-shoes-wearing crowd remained faithful to Disclosure, and the crowd began to fill out a little during the second half of their set as they steadily upped the tempo. Guest appearances by Kwabs for "Willing and Able" and Brendan Reilly for "Moving Mountains" changed what would have been a pretty undynamic stage show (though Howard and Guy Lawrence did step out from behind their tables at one point to play guitar). Knowing the crowd, Disclosure closed out their set with a stretched out version of their hit "Latch," which brought out the loudest cheer and all the cellphones. But there's nowhere more fitting than Chicago to play house music, and it was a great gesture by Lolla planners to have them close out a night of the fest. If only more festgoers had been more appreciative.
—Elise De Los Santos, executive editor

Vic Mensa (9 p.m. Pepsi)

Tom Morello may have joined X Ambassadors onstage earlier in the day, but it was Vic Mensa's much-deserved Pepsi stage headlining slot that kept the spirit of Rage Against the Machine alive. "I almost died when I was 17 trying to sneak into this festival," Mensa said before correctly adding "this isn't really accessible to people on the South Side. I wish it was free." Besides noting the inherently steep prices of major music festivals, his set often doubled as a politically charged, emotionally resonant sermon. During "16 Shots," a protest song that references the number of bullets Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke fired into Laquan McDonald's body, killing him, he brought out several "dancers" dressed up like militarized police. It was a more than powerful visual.

It wasn't just police brutality that Mensa set his justice-minded sights on. When he played recent number "Free Love," he focused on LGBT equality, even bringing out Chicago drag queen Lucy Stoole, who graces the track's single artwork. Be it the Flint, Mich., water crisis ("Shades of Blue") or his own demons ("There's Alot Going On"), he left no stone unturned. The Chicago Reader recently speculated whether Mensa could radicalize Lollapalooza, and he might have because I can't think of a more necessary message for a corporate platform like that.

The biggest rumor going into tonight was that Mensa would bring out his idol and collaborator Kanye West. He didn't, but Joey Purp did join him for an excellent banger the two just recorded on tour. It features the lines "773 that's the code" and "if you ain't from the city then we know." That, plus a touching and raw tribute to his late friend Killa Cam, were the highlights of the night. As he proved tonight, Mensa is undoubtedly an artist who knows he can take over the music world. He's hungry enough to do it. Just watch.
—Josh Terry, music reporter

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