By Frank E. Lee

The clouds turned out to be the “ice cream castles in the sky” variety and not the kind that got in the way, so the ponchos stayed stuffed and it was time for me, after three days of wrangling live reports from Marty and Jason on the radio, to get some eyewitness action in Grant Park.

New mom Kara was my daughter date and, fortified with some Big Star bean and squash burritos, Publican mac and cheese and some Tito’s vodka lemonades, we enjoyed one of Lolla’s singular delights: a fantastic band that I had never heard of. Highly Suspect, from Massachusetts, playing blues rock in an exciting, how is that possible? new way.

Next, it was a burst of pop from Vance Joy, looking like a cross between John Mayer and the Hemsworth boys, with a mid-tempo set augmented by a small but vibrant horn section and lots of big singalong hits. Then it was time for the traditional walk across Lollaland (the shuttle line was too long) where we caught the last (terrific) 30 seconds of Electric Soul and settled in at the south end for alt J who delivered a spidery, hypnotic performance with chanting and Giger-like organic snaky video of teal and black.

Banks was a little hard to hear from our vantage point (kind of like watching the TV in the next room) but there was lots of fog, soulful singing and excellent synchronized dancing. One of Lolla’s biggest crowds greeted local hero Chance the Rapper, who took the stage to a medley of television intros that included Michele Obama and his answer on Jeopardy!

He jumped around the stage with his trademark 3 baseball cap and a Champion sports shirt with his longtime horn man Nico Segal and a children’s choir pushing him along. The crowd started to press and the prospect of the long walk back combined to send us homeward with the sounds of the xx guiding us along down Madison Ave.


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