Lollapalooza 2022 Day Three: J. Cole Thanks Day Ones, Willow Ends Early, TXT Test Waters

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Photo-Jul-30-9-19-36-PM - Credit: Steven Nunez for Rolling Stone
Photo-Jul-30-9-19-36-PM - Credit: Steven Nunez for Rolling Stone

Lollapalooza 2022’s penultimate day wrapped-up with headliners Willow and J. Cole. Day Three also included Chicago-bred Lil Durk and South Korean K-pop group Tomorrow x Together, two acts that were recently added to the lineup, rounding out Saturday’s festivities in Chicago’s Grant Park.

Alexander 23 Brings His Music Back Home
“I’m from Chicago,” said Alexander Glantz, who performs as Alexander 23 and has become a go-to industry collaborator. “So this is extra special for me.” Funny, Glantz’s harmlessly generic pop-rock didn’t feel that special. Glantz was at his best with heart-on-sleeve power ballads like “Cry Over Boys” and “Somebody’s Nobody,” but the most memorable moments of his set came with safe covers of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.”

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Meet Me @ the Altar Usher in the Next Generation of Pop-Punk
Amid a lineup touting Willow and Machine Gun Kelly, Meet Me @ the Altar showed that pop-punk isn’t just for major label headliners. The lively emo group formed online in 2015, penning songs together while living apart in Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey. Onstage, singer Edith Victoria, guitarist-bassist Téa Campbell, and drummer Ada Juarez thrived off their natural chemistry and the bubbly energy of their 2021 EP Model Citizen. It was Victoria who stole the show with crystalline vocals that dodged the whiny tone haunting the genre, her neon green and turquoise updo blurring as she moved.

Fletcher @ Lollapalooza - Credit: Steven Nunez for Rolling Stone
Fletcher @ Lollapalooza - Credit: Steven Nunez for Rolling Stone

Steven Nunez for Rolling Stone

Fletcher Shows Off With Impressive Pop Vocals
Fletcher can sing. The New Jersey-born rising pop star could’ve coasted on the force with which fans belted out “Undrunk” and “Becky’s So Hot.” Instead, she earned her spot on the main stage with a mashup of “Fuck You for Ruinin’ NYC for Me” and Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever.” As she scaled the vocal peak of the single, Fletcher went toe-to-toe with Eilish, letting her voice soar in strength and tenor. With flushed cheeks and modest surprise at the size of her crowd, she no doubt heightened the anticipation for Girl of My Dreams, her upcoming debut album.

Dashboard Confessional Dabble in Nostalgia
As a beloved emo band, Dashboard Confessional are used to relishing in nostalgia. Frontperson Chris Carrabba led the Florida group through a series of iconic singles (“Vindicated,” “Stolen,” “Screaming Infidelities”) and deep cuts (“The Brilliant Dance,” “Again I Go Unnoticed”) that ended with the whole crowd singing along, the lyrics embedded in their brains. “I think some of you are way too young to know these songs,” said Carrabba. As if determined to prove him wrong, audience members lovingly sang along to older hits, including the fan-requested “Saints and Sailors” and closer “Hands Down.” Fans old and young alike swooned.

Lil Durk Returns to His Roots
Growing up on Chicago’s South Side gave Lil Durk a lifetime of stories from which to draw, and all these years later the rapper’s latest 7220, which catalogs several personal tragedies and setbacks, explores how hard it can be to escape the gravitational pull of the streets. So many people pressed in to hear songs like “Shootout @ My Crib” and “What Happened to Virgil?,” both of which hinged on Durk’s trademark auto-tuned hybrid of singing and rapping, that the show had to be stopped more than once to give the packed crowd some breathing room.

Lil Durk @ Lollapalooza - Credit: Steven Nunez for Rolling Stone
Lil Durk @ Lollapalooza - Credit: Steven Nunez for Rolling Stone

Steven Nunez for Rolling Stone

Wallows Offer Up Winning Indie
Dylan Minnette and Braeden Lemasters of Wallows have been making music together for about as long as they’ve been working in Hollywood, which is to say, quite a while at this point. A recent hit like “13 Reasons Why” (Minnette starred in the series of the same name) plus the requisite TikTok magic certainly doesn’t hurt prospects, but if all that you knew of the band was its confident set of hooky California indie-rock gems like “Scrawny” and “Pictures of Girls,” you probably wouldn’t guess the group still has day jobs.

YG Loves a Questionable Peepshow
YG split his set between rapping hits and encouraging women to flash him. The Compton rapper broke out “BPT,” “Fuck Donald Trump,” and “Big Bank.” If minutes passed with nothing but music, though, YG demanded “more titties.” “We love to see it,” he said, yet he rejected one girl for having “mosquito bites” and mocked another, saying “her shit looks about ready to milk.” One of the biggest slices of Lollapalooza’s demographic pie chart is high schoolers. After a long stretch screaming for boobs, a shirtless guy yelled, “Dude, mine are out!” YG then clarified he wasn’t interested in male nipples.

Idles Set the Stage for Revolution
Idles singer Joe Talbot looked like he was ready for a fight before the band played a note. No question the U.K. group relishes its confrontational reputation, reveling in making a big racket that sometimes appears to be teetering on the brink of chaos. In fact, after just a couple of songs most of the band was already drenched in sweat, and the modest but energetic crowd was churning in front of the stage. Talbot seemed genuinely appreciative for the eyes and ears between songs, taking some time to underscore the anguished fight-for-your-life messages  and political themes coursing through the relentlessly lacerating post-punk assault.

Turnstile Carried the Hardcore Torch Onwards
Hardcore is rarely represented at major music festivals. As the chosen crossover act, Turnstile carried that torch with poise and passion to make good on the opportunity. Glow On songs were greeted by a surprising amount of singing along and moshpits-turned-pogo pits where beers erupted mid-air like volcanos. While his bandmates segued between tracks with shoegaze drones, singer Brendan Yates waved the microphone stand in the air and encouraged people to dance. Most impressively, Turnstile broke out “Canned Heat” from their 2013 EP Step 2 Rhythm, perhaps in a strategic move to further immerse newcomers in the hardcore world.

TXT @ Lollapalooza - Credit: Steven Nunez for Rolling Stone
TXT @ Lollapalooza - Credit: Steven Nunez for Rolling Stone

Steven Nunez for Rolling Stone

TXT Take Off
The screams preceded Tomorrow x Together right on cue. Not yet as well known in America as their friends BTS (member J-Hope headlines on Sunday), Tomorrow x Together have been testing the waters to see if there’s room for another Korean boy band here and their short tease of a set came mere weeks after the group launched a whirlwind U.S. tour in Chicago. The five-member group’s perfectly orchestrated Lolla appearance, which showed off such wholesome, ready-to-wear would-be pop juggernauts as “Good Boy Gone Bad,” the English-language “Magic,” and “Valley of Lies” (which featured guest Iann Dior) felt as much brand launch as performance.

Willow Leaves Fans Wanting More (Literally)
Greeted by a crowd chanting her name, Willow opened her headlining set with “Transparent Soul.” The 21-year-old daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith rocked the confidence of an artist twice her age, as she should; she’s got an incredible voice. However, after exploring her catalog (“Lipstick,” “Wait a Minute,” “<Maybe> it’s My Fault”) and charming the crowd with jokes (“Government’s coming! I knew they would!” she laughed when a helicopter flew overhead), Willow ended her set 15 minutes early despite a discography that’s four albums deep. She had the presence of a headliner, but the setlist of an opener.

Willow - Credit: Griffin Lotz for Rolling Stone
Willow - Credit: Griffin Lotz for Rolling Stone

Griffin Lotz for Rolling Stone

J. Cole Season Hits Main Stage
With six studio albums, and all six hitting Number One under his belt, J. Cole’s bonafides as a Lollapalooza headliner have been long established. Still, like the inspiration behind much of his music, he hasn’t forgotten from where he came. Like fellow headliner Dua Lipa the night before, J. Cole recalled performing a side stage at the festival, a “special stage” where aspiring artists and fans bond and Day Ones are solidified. He opened with a run of songs from his latest album, 2021’s The Off-Season, and his subtle jumping as he dropped his verses mirrored an athlete’s warmup befitting the LP’s themes. He also shared the spotlight with his Dreamville cohorts, bringing out Bas for “100.mil’” and later J.I.D joined them for “Down Bad” and “Stick.” Other highlights came by way of his performances for the Day Ones who packed the main stage field, including “Nobody’s Perfect,” “Power Trip,” and rousing closer “No Role Modelz.”

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