Lollapalooza 2022 was a Dance Music Oasis

Aug 4, 2022

5 min read

Aerials shot of Lollapalooza 2022 Aerials shot of Lollapalooza 2022

Roger Ho for Lollapalooza 2022

Lollapalooza brought hundreds of thousands to Chicago’s Grant Park this past weekend, sweeping through the city with buzzy excitement. From Thursday to Sunday bejeweled and glitter-painted attendees flooded into the landmark festival, which took over the city for four days to offer an incomparable musical utopia.

The C3 Presents festival is a seasonal highlight for the city, which hosts the event smack in the middle of downtown Chicago. Anchored by Buckingham Fountain — one of the largest fountains in the world — folks flock to Lollapalooza for the scenery, the music, and frankly, the weather. As a city, Chicago spends half the year cooped up with snow and bone-chilling temperatures, so it explodes once warm weather hits. And with the week complimented by mild temperatures, the constant hum of cicadas, and rain-free afternoons (a rarity for the fest), energy was at an all-time high. Yes, “summertime Chi” is very much a thing.

Buckingham Fountain at Lollapalooza 2022Buckingham Fountain at Lollapalooza 2022

Taylor Regulski for Lollapalooza 2022

Dance music fans were able to dot around and watch acts across the festival’s myriad stages — Kygo on Bud Light Seltzer, Polo and Pan on Discord, and Com3t on Tito’s — but as usual, the home base for all things dance was anchored at the Solana x Perry’s stage.

For those not in the know, the stage (formerly known as just Perry’s) started several years ago as little more than a pop-up tent, mostly hosting open format DJs, Chicago locals, and Hype Machine-endorsed blog haus stars. Now, it’s a full-production behemoth, and the coveted centerpiece for all things electronic, featuring big names like Zhu, MK, and Rezz, along with hot up-and-coming acts like LP Giobbi, Wreckno, and Biicla.

Chicagoans love Chicago, and many artists leaned into hometown love, with nods to the city’s musical history lacing the week’s performances. Local acts took the spotlight in both straightforward and surprising ways, always met with roars and whoops from the audience.

John Summit at Lollapalooza 2022John Summit at Lollapalooza 2022

Taylor Regulski for Lollapalooza 2022

Crowds rallied for hometown names like Kaskade and John Summit, each making sure to spotlight collaborations with other Chicago artists. Summit included tracks like “Trip” with Tombz and “Summertime Chi” with Lee Foss and Hayley May, while Kaskade threw love back to Summit, playing his remix of “Escape,” by Kaskade’s side project with Deadmau5, Kx5.

Then, there were the surprise guests. No matter where you were or who you saw, chances are, you saw something unexpected. Wreckno brought Dev on stage for a live performance of her hit 2010 song with Far East Movement, “Like a G6.” 

In a neck-snapping appearance, Jim Peterik — from legendary Chicago-based ‘80s band Journey — performed a remix of “Eye of the Tiger” with SIDEPIECE (Party Favor and Nitti Gritti). Meanwhile, on the Bud Light Seltzer stage, Chance The Rapper hopped on Kygo’s set to perform “No Problem” from his album Coloring Book.

Wreckno at Lollapalooza 2022Wreckno at Lollapalooza 2022

Shea Flynn for Lollapalooza 2022

Although Lollapalooza plays no favorites when it comes to genres (big draw names spanned everything from Italian glam-rock band Måneskin to BTS rapper and singer-songwriter J-Hope), dance was consistently a winner during the week. Yes, evening acts saw bursting crowds that bled out into walkways, but even early acts like Habstrakt packed the dancefloor, a rarity for any stage.

Other highlights for dance music fans: Duke Dumont getting clever with wordplay by mixing Pirupa and Leon’s “Now Walk” (which samples RuPaul’s “Covergirl) into his song “Runway,” Rezz getting loose midway through her set by teasing throwback crowd-pleasers like Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing In the Name” and The Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up,” and Clozee pulling deep into the archives with RJD2’s “Ghostwriter,” a song that is now 20 years old.

(Speaking of Rezz and Clozee, it’s worth noting that this year’s Solana x Perry’s stage was one of the more diversified in recent memory: about one-third of the lineup was women.)

Rezz at Lollapalooza 2022Rezz at Lollapalooza 2022

Shea Flynn for Lollapalooza 2022

Aside from the music, there were plenty of new things to see and do at the fest. Brand activations allowed a respite from the heat or simply a way to pass time between sets. You could get a lipstick or highlighter refresh with Halsey’s about x face makeup line, try and win free VIP passes from an oversized claw machine (thanks, T-Mobile!), or make a customized friendship bracelet over at the Toyota Music Den that included “power beads,” said to hold various crystal-like energies.

Lollapalooza also doubled down on its foray into NFTs, bringing the experience to the festival itself. Last year, the focus was on debuting an NFT marketplace and a Solana Foundation partnership that turned Perry’s stage into Perry’s x Solana. This year, Lollapalooza and the Solana Foundation teamed up again, offering an on-site NFT scavenger hunt. Collect QR-activated goodies through the week, and redeem them for prizes like backstage passes or exclusive experiences.

Also new: Giant numbered “mile marker” flags flanked the sides of the fest, making it easier for groups to find their friends (and for medical staff to find those in need). Considering end-to-end the festival is almost a mile long, anything that helps with ease of navigation is a welcome addition.

LP Giobbi at Lollapalloza 2022LP Giobbi at Lollapalloza 2022

Brandleighh for Lollapalloza 2022

As Lollapalooza came to a close on Sunday evening, the festival saw perhaps its biggest surprise guest of the week: Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Just before J-Hope’s history-making performance, festival founder Perry Farrell brought Lightfoot on stage for a momentous announcement. The city reached a deal with Lollapalooza organizer C3 Presents that ensures the fest will stay in Chicago for at least another 10 years. And as part of the deal, Lolla will also be able to expand its capacity from 100,000 per day to 115,000 per day.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the deal a way for the city to “share in the wealth” and to be “partners in this together” with C3 Presents. “I think having that stability, so frankly, they can book their artists years in advance, really is to the benefit not only to them, but also a benefit to us,” Lightfoot said in a news conference.

The announcement was met that night with raucous screams and cheers — another Lollapalooza is in the books, and it looks like there’s at least another decade to look forward to.