J. Cole’s charisma, Lana Del Rey’s charm launch Lollapalooza a day earlier than usual

J. Cole Photos by Daniel DeSlover

In honor of its 25th birthday, Lollapalooza set up shop in Grant Park a day earlier than usual, giving faithful a full day’s worth of sets from a slew of familiar and burgeoning faces. Leading the charge at opposite ends of the field were hip-hop heavyweight J. Cole and dreamy chanteuse Lana Del Rey, while the under card may have started out a bit slow in the morning, but gradually picked up its prominence as the afternoon arrived.

Alongside a full band and soulful background troupe, Lana Del Rey offered such a welcome breath of beauty from the evening’s more aggressive overtones that the seemingly soft-spoken set seemed to cast a glorious spell on her enraptured attendees.

J. Cole kicked off his headlining slot fifteen minutes earlier than his figurative competitor, rising up to the challenge with tunes from his modern day masterpiece “2014 Forest Hills Drive” and beyond. Clad in a Chicago Bulls jersey and oozing with charisma, the rapper ensured the throngs he was ready for a party, racing around the mammoth stage and bouncing to the throbbing beats as he dropped both celebratory and socially-themed rhymes.

J. ColeOn the way to Lana Del Rey, Flosstradamus had everyone’s fists in the air to his EDM explosions, while The Last Shadow Puppets served as the effective vehicle for the baroque pop stylings of Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and his current cohorts. Del Rey couldn’t have been further from all of the above, looking and sounding like she stepped right out of the film noir scene from the 1950s with her white dress, flowered hair and hand fan all accenting a gentle croon.

Alongside a full band and soulful background troupe, the co-headliner offered such a welcome breath of beauty from the evening’s more aggressive overtones, she appeared to cast a soft-spoken spell on her enraptured attendees. The crowd was almost as thick for The Arcs (most likely to see Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys), though rather than radically shuffling up his sound for the side project (such as the many times Jack White’s abandoned garage rock), he merely prodded along a similar psychedelic path to lukewarm results.

On the other hand, G-Eazy rose to the entertaining occasion, ditching his shirt in the scorching sun and seeming incredibly sincere with appreciation over having a super-charged audience. Of course, the hip-hop star is no stranger to the big leagues after a string of all-star collaborations and massive (albeit sometimes shallow) singles that on this particular show culminated in the insanely infectious “Me, Myself & I.”

English electro poppers Bastille certainly have an explosive sound on record, but weren’t exactly exciting to watch for most of a set split between “Bad Blood” staples and new tunes. However, once an afternoon drizzle set in, front man Dan Smith leapt off the stage, high fived fans pressed against the security barricades and soon jumped aboard some scaffolding. Thankfully, the bursting “Pompeii” eventually brought down the house and not only helped turn a lackluster presentation around, but served as a pulsating primer for the rest of day one.

Click here for more day one photos of Lollapalooza at Grant Park.

For additional information on Lollapalooza, J. Cole and Lana Del Rey, visit Lollapalooza.com, JColeMusic.com and LanaDelRey.com.