There's always a lot going on at Lollapalooza; take a look at what you might have missed.

Say what you want about Lollapalooza, but this festival will always have a special place in my heart. Having grown up as one of the many suburban teenagers to descend upon this electrifying event for the better part of the last ten years, I now blend in seamlessly with the crop of older observers at this annual Grant Park gathering. You might be quick to think that that might tarnish my overall experience, but that negative sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. Were there a lot of kids wearing questionable attire? Yes. Were there bands/acts that I couldn’t care less about seeing live? Of course (It’s bound to happen with 100+ acts). And did it rain like it always does for at least one day of festivities? You betcha! And guess what? It wouldn’t have felt like the same Lolla that I’ve come to love without all of those essential aspects.

For a Chicagoan like myself, nostalgia is the key term when Lollapalooza is the topic of discussion. I’ll never forget the 2008 event, when headliners like Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, & Kanye West changed my perspective on live performances forever. Heck, it wasn’t even all that long ago that Perry’s (the EDM stage) was just a miniscule installment among a grouping of massive stages. However, with the dance music spotlight now shining brighter than ever before, Perry’s has, out of necessity, ballooned to nearly the size of a main stage and plays host to big name acts on a nightly basis. Between the 100,000+ people on hand each day, the festival’s skyline-bathed backdrop, and a multitude of non-musical related attractions, Lollapalooza strives to create an unforgettable weekend year in and year out.

As we shift our sights towards this year’s get together, there are a couple of matters that demand our immediate attention. Some of you may have heard the rumors, and yes, they’re true. Rihanna did show up for part of Eminem’s set on Friday evening. The hip-hop/R&B goddess performed three songs in total with Em, one of which was a revival of “Stan.” Unfortunately, I was watching Zedd while all of this was going on, so I clearly dropped the ball on that one. In addition to that remarkable rap cameo, Chance The Rapper was accompanied by R. Kelly for a small portion of his Sunday night show. To put it simply, Lolla is never short on the surprises.

Now, while headliners like Artic Monkeys, Calvin Harris, & Kings Of Leon didn’t intrigue me much at all, there were a couple of primetime acts that still managed to win me over with their stellar performances. If you take a gander below, you’ll notice that I’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of my top five sets from the entire weekend. With fan favorites like Krewella, Flosstradamus, & Iggy Azalea falling just short of the cut, it’s safe to say that I thought each and every one of these acts brought their A game. After perusing through my list, feel free to leave a comment and let us know which act(s) you enjoyed the most at Lollapalooza 2014.

My Top 5 Lollapalooza Acts:

5. Above & Beyond

If I were a bigger fan of trance music, I have no doubt that Above & Beyond would’ve obtained one of the top three spots on this list. However, this intriguing genre is still slowly growing on me, and I have Above & Beyond to thank for that. After watching them perform live for the first time at Electric Forest in 2013, I kind of expected their Lolla set to be a complete joke in comparison. Well, boy was I wrong. It may have been early on Friday evening, but that did not deter their loyal fan base from turning out in huge numbers. Even more importantly, the set itself was absolutely flawless. Truth be told, I’m not very familiar with this group’s extensive catalog of music, but I can assure you that there was not one dull moment during their entire set. Above & Beyond essentially set the pace for the wonderful weekend that lie ahead.

4. Outkast

It’s no secret that these guys are hip-hop legends, and even though I had seen Big Boi live a couple times prior to this night, I had never had the privilege of witnessing Andre 3000 spit hot fire into the microphone. Initially, I was hanging out backstage for the first 15 minutes of their set, but the muffled sound and lack of a decent view weren’t really doing much for me. It was pretty obvious that if I was going to get the most of this experience, I needed to immerse myself in the ridiculously enormous crowd. Oddly enough, that ended up being the best decision I made all weekend. I found myself standing right smack dab in the middle of the audience when Outkast effortlessly guided us through classics like “Ms. Jackson,” “Roses,” & “So Fresh, So Clean.” On top of that, they also busted out personal favorites like “Crumblin’ Erb,” “Hootie Hoo,” & “The Whole World.” I honestly can’t recall the last time I saw a rap show that resonated with me this much, but Outkast was far and away one of the best non-EDM acts that Lolla had to offer.

3. Skrillex

Going into Lollapalooza weekend, if you had asked me who I was most looking forward to seeing, the answer was easy. Skrillex. Skrillex. And more Skrillex. Now, I won’t go as far to say his Sunday night set disappointed me, but when you’re assigned with the difficult task of closing out a festival this large, you’ve got to be prepared to go hard. He hopped around constantly from genre to genre, mind you, with some of the best mixing I’ve ever seen from him (he used to be an atrocious DJ), however, the set still didn’t leave the lasting impact on me that I was so sure it would. The dubstep was too scarce and the trap was excessive at times. I know there’s a need to “play to the crowd” at a festival of this magnitude, but the whole performance felt like a stripped down version of what I was actually expecting. Had Skrillex busted out more of his own original works, you likely would’ve found him firmly planted in my #1 slot. Due to a very up-and-down performance, I dropped him down the list a couple spots.

2. Chase & Status

There may have been about 10 people total at Chase & Status’ set. Okay, I’m exaggerating just a bit, but if you had seen the crowd that Martin Garrix just packed in the hour prior (on the exact same stage), you’d be on the verge of crying too. Look, I get it, “Animals” is a very popular song, and clearly these younger kids eat that stuff up, but Chase & Status are dance music legends. It was easy to tell that 95% of the festival’s attendees were elsewhere during the duo’s time on stage, and guess what? That was the biggest mistake they made all weekend. These EDM icons didn’t miss a beat, literally. Busting out classic tunes like “Eastern Jam,” Rusko’s Jahova, & Nero’s “Innocence,” it seriously felt like I had hopped in a time machine and set the date for 2010. Also, according to the schedule, their set ran 30 minutes long, which just made it all the better. Chase & Status were quick to remind me why I feel in love with bass music in the first place.

1. Flume

The one thing I heard over and over leading up to Lollapalooza weekend was that I couldn’t afford to miss Flume. After seeing both musicians and fans constantly rave about the quality of his live shows, I had my concerns about him living up to the immense hype. Well, after a Sunday that was full of mediocre trap music and on-and-off rainstorms, Flume was the ray of sunlight that every festival-goer so badly required. He brought out what was by far one of the largest crowds that The Grove stage had seen all weekend and then proceeded to blow the minds of every individual in attendance. The audio was perfect, the visuals were stunning, and the electric atmosphere was precisely what I had been struggling to locate all weekend. Part of me wished that Flume’s set would never end, but at the end of the day, I’m just honored to say that I’ve now had the opportunity to watch this gifted musician put on a priceless performance.    

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