Playing in front of a large audience from the Lake Shore Stage at Lollapalooza on Saturday night, the Lumineers made every attempt to bring fans closer to the action.
Tactics like playing toy pianos, acoustic guitars, or using a single kick drum helped keep things intimate without feeling small.
But frontman Wesley Schultz went several steps further — several steps into the crowd. In the middle of the Lumineers’ set, Schultz parted the seas and marched several yards into the mass of humanity and stood on a chair with a microphone stand to perform two bonus tracks that will come off the upcoming deluxe release of their self-titled debut album (Aug. 20).
After he strummed through “Darlene,” which actually featured percussionist Jeremiah Fraites on a xylophone solo, and “Eloise,” Schultz made his way back up to the stage seemingly unscathed.
Those were hardly the only high spots of the show, however.
The Lumineers came out of the gates strong, playing the ubiquitous “Hey Ho” a few moments into their setlist. Aided by the vocals of multi-instrumentalist Neyla Pekarek, “Hey Ho” had the entire crowd singing along, as did the summer anthem “Stubborn Love.”
Schultz also tabbed his inner Bob Dylan when he played the troubadour’s classic “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”
As the sun went down in Chicago, the Lumineers verbally expressed their gratitude for those who gathered to watch them play. But it was really obvious by the way they went about pulling everyone they could into their performance.
If Sharon Van Etten had her druthers, she would have played Lollapalooza 15 years ago.
That was the sentiment she shared during a mesmerizing set Friday afternoon in Chicago’s Grant Park.
Taking the PlayStation stage at 3 p.m., Van Etten gushed about fulfilling one of her dreams.
“It’s funny that you’re a teen when you want to play Lollapalooza and now you’re 30,” she joked.
Judging by her performance, Van Etten deserves it. Culling mainly from her 2012 ode to relationships gone bad, Tramp, Van Etten weaves personal tales (she has sometimes wondered if they are too personal) with her haunting vocals and heartfelt lyrics.
On stage, though, there’s always that funny banter in between songs, which seems to suggest that performing is a means of therapy for Van Etten.
One can’t help but be charmed when Van Etten talks excitedly about all the bands she wants to see at Lollapalooza.
“Black Keys! The Shins! Michael Kiwanuka!” She basically gave the crowd their marching orders for Friday.
“This is a time when I wish I could be in two places at once,” she noted with a smile.
Throughout her show, there are both the folksy strums of an acoustic guitar and a bow taken to an electric guitar to create an atmospheric landscape.
But the most-powerful instrument Van Etten carries in her arsenal is her emotion, whether dealing with heartbreak or pure joy.