Lollapalooza wrapped up at Chicago's Grant Park on Sunday with its third straight day of sold-out attendance. An estimated 75,000 people from around the nation strolled the lakefront taking in rock, hip-hop, DJs and more on eight stages spanning the entire length of the park.
For music fans, the allure of the city's "destination" music festival outweighed this summer's economic woes. Both of the evening's headliners, Chicago hip-hop megastar Kanye West and industrial rock godfathers Nine Inch Nails, pulled eager crowds. Neither audience was as destructive as those who smashed through a perimeter fence (and each other) during Rage Against the Machine's Saturday finale, although both groups certainly seemed more awake than Radiohead's reverent crowd Friday.
West's show was like his music: flashy and slick, lots of lights and smoke, but somehow still personable. He worked the hometown crowd like a pro, especially during his Auto-Tune abusing rendition of Young Jeezy's single "Put On," on which West cameos. This included a lengthy ad-lib that saluted Chicago, his late mother and his own sales power but waxed self-indulgent as he griped about problems his fame has caused. Melodic, dramatic, bombastic hits "Diamonds from Sierra Leone," "Gold Digger" and "Jesus Walks" went over big nonetheless.
Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor held his own, though, opening with a few tense, steely electro-rock tunes from the band's recent "The Slip," released as a free download to fans' delight. Reznor flashed his fangs with the frantic techno-thrash of "March of the Pigs" and the white-knuckled push/pull of "Gave Up" before airing the group's biggest hit, "Closer," the gyrating audience singing along with every dirty word.
Other big draws Sunday included Gnarls Barkley, whose eclectic soul/rock hybrid was occasionally overpowered by Cee-Lo Green's piercing wail. Mashup DJ du jour Girl Talk jammed foot traffic with his booming, sample-laden mixes, though he was barely visible behind a wall of fans dancing on stage.
Flogging Molly provided an ethnic folk/punk party nearly as frenzied as Gogol Bordello's on Friday, albeit with stouthearted Celtic pride. Most fascinating of all was Saul Williams' confrontational industrial/hip-hop hybrid. "Race is a social construct," said Williams, proving it with a clattering, genre-bending primal scream.