Lollapalooza: What Critics Say

Cambria Harkey/Flickr

Foo Fighters provide "the most cinematic moment" of Chicago fest with rain-soaked performance, Eminem "slays massive crowd."

Music fest Lollapalooza wrapped up in Chicago Sunday night with a much-lauded performance by Foo Fighters in the pouring rain. The sold-out festival was celebrating its 20th anniversary (Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell started it in 1991), and attended by a record 270,000 people.

Didn't make it to the show? Here's a sampling of reviews and observations by critics.

"On Day Three of Lollapalooza, most of the festival’s approximately 90,000 attendees didn’t look like mere concertgoers – they resembled war casualties. Two punishing rainstorms yesterday turned Grant Park into a giant mud pit, leaving fans drenched, dirt-caked, and, in especially dire cases, shoeless," Nicole Frehsee writes in Rolling Stone.

"Unlike Lolla’s previous two days, where the masses fanned out among the festival’s eight stages, it was clear who most people came to see on Sunday: the Foo Fighters. And for good reason: less than 24 hours after their epic after-show for an audience of 1,150 at Chicago club Metro, the alt-rock kings hammered out another blazing performance," she adds.

"Led by Dave Grohl, the band unleashed ferocious riffs and equally loud choruses on everything from new tracks ("Bridge Burning," "Rope") to throwbacks ("My Hero," "Monkey Wrench"). As rain began to pound down once again (perhaps summoned by Taylor Hawkins’ Earth-shaking drumming?), the crowd sang along with Grohl on "Learn to Fly." The lyric, "I’m looking to the sky to save me," was apropos," she went on. 

USA Today's Piet Levy thought the Foo Fighters "perfectly symbolized both the festival's origins and its likely evolution. On one end, Foo Fighters represented the alternative rock stylings Lolla began championing 20 years ago, while DJ Deadmau5 on the other end symbolized the festival's transition into a hotbed for electronic dance music.

"But Mother Nature had a hand in making what should go down as one of the most memorable shows in the band's history," added Levy. "Thick, freezing drops soaked the masses and the grounds within seconds, transforming sections of the park into mud soup, as muscular guitars and Taylor Hawkins' powerful percussion created its own sonic storm on stage. The weather doesn't faze the band one bit; it actually energizes it. Soaked through and through, Grohl banged his head to the beat, getting down on his knees at one point to shred, and when the song allowed, struck a silly heroic pose with beaming smile and fists to hips, and blew a big kiss to the crowd with his fingertips like an Italian chef out of central casting. Hawkins too powered on, drops of rain exploding from his kit as he pounded the skins of the drums. A film director couldn't have staged this any better. This was by far the most cinematic moment at Lolla this year, if not in its entire Chicago-based history."

Gil Kaufman of MTV News was a fan of Eminem's Saturday performance, which closed the night.

In a story titled "Eminem Slays Massive Crowd At Lollapalooza," Kaufman writes, "Nimble and focused, Marshall Mathers crisscrossed the stage and played off hype man Mr. Porter during 'Square Dance,' with each man weaving seamlessly in and out of each other's lines. Like most of the tunes, the rubber-band snap "Kill You" had the crowd singing along to the murderous chorus gleefully before the tune ended abruptly with a startling shotgun blast."

"By the time the lights went down after a heated 'Lose Yourself,' there was no doubt that Eminem came, saw and conquered his Lollapalooza debut," Kaufman added.