Festivals Show Reviews

Staged Haze Goes International: Our Lollapalooza Chile Experience

Chicago’s iconic festival Lollapalooza expanded in Santiago, Chile back in 2011. Due to the success of the Chilean version of the festival, it was eventually brought to Argentina and Brazil.  

Growing up in Santiago, this was the one weekend that I would look forward to every year; although there is a decently sized music scene in the country, not a lot of foreign acts come to the region. Lolla helped change that.

Chilean music fans usually find themselves with two options: going to small local concerts at bars, or paying huge amounts of money to see artists like Harry Styles or Coldplay, who will most likely only come back once in the next five years. But Lollapalooza breaks that rule. Besides the headliners, it brings artists that would most likely never come on their own, but that are big enough to be brought by the festival.

This year, Billie Eilish, Drake and Blink-182 got the big slots, with Twenty One Pilots replacing Blink at the last minute (literally a week before) due to Travis Barker’s unexpected injury. Lil Nas X, Tame Impala, and Rosalía followed suit, with The 1975 counting as an honorary headliner in my book, too. Some of my personal favorites showed up in the betweens: Wallows, Conan Gray, Omar Apollo and Dominic Fike (although Omar stepped down due to getting the opening gig for SZA, and Dominic pulled from the event for unknown reasons a couple of weeks prior).

Until 2019, the festival was held at a different location, one that resembled Grant Park a lot better, despite it being noticeably smaller. After the pandemic—and because of some political reasons—the three-day affair was moved to Parque Cerrillos, a good 45 minutes from downtown Santiago, and more than an hour commute for a big portion of the attendees. 

This was something that I forgot about since I hadn’t attended the festival since pre-apocalypse. Once I realized the venue change and arrived at the new location, I was surprised to learn that there were not many trees to be seen: none, to be exact. It turns out, this is because Parque Cerrillos used to be an airport in the 1900s. 

There was not one spot with some real shade, and you had to walk for around 30 minutes to get from one end of the park to the other. After about half an hour of aimless walking, I found the first stage I was supposed to go to, to see and shoot Conan Gray himself.

Friday, March 17th:

Before Conan’s set, Latin American artist Mora was performing to a crowd of mostly teenagers and young adults. A good percentage of the lineup was taken by urban artists, (which is definitely not a bad thing), but it does step away from Lollapalooza’s alternative/indie-centered atmosphere. It also does slightly confirm that they have been basing their lineups on who is doing well on TikTok.

Throughout the reggaeton set, dozens of people had to be evacuated through the photo pit, as they fainted and felt sick because of the scorching sun and the pressure from the crowd pushing against the barricade. The set was interrupted several times to try and calm the crowd down, only hinting at what was to come on the later sets and following days.

Luckily, Conan Gray’s set went smoothly. A good number of fans by the barricade had been waiting for him with themed posters and outfits, and the crowd was heard singing the words to songs like “Disaster,” “Jigsaw,” “Overdrive,” and “Maniac.” He maintained his usual dynamic of acknowledging his depression and unfortunate love life, winning over some of the bystanders who could relate all too well.

On the opposite main stage, Kali Uchis performed during Santiago’s gleaming sunset, mixing both of the main themes taking over the festival: latin urban and anglo music. The American-Colombian has been one of South America’s favorite artists for a few years now, and it was the perfect stage for the singer to debut most of her new songs live, while also performing classics like Tyler The Creator’s “See You Again,” Daniel Caesar’s “Get You,” and KAYTRANADA’s “10%.”

Definitely making an entrance (as he always does), Lil Nas X began his set by entering the stage alongside some stunning visuals, wearing some extravagant clothes, and joined by his incredibly talented dancers. I personally wasn’t sure how big he was in my home country, because I wasn’t there when he had his second major blow up in 2021, but the crowd seemed to absolutely love him, singing every word to “Montero,” “Panini,” and of course “Old Town Road” and “Industry Baby”. He also became one of the country’s favorites after fans ran into him at a local McDonald’s later that night, taking pictures and chatting with anybody that approached him. (Photos by @garygopohoto)

At last, Billie Eilish was in charge of closing the night. Her arrival in South America was a long time coming, as she was supposed to visit the area for the first time in 2020, and fans were eager to finally see her closing on one of the biggest nights in the festival’s history. I don’t think I had realized how big of a moment I was witnessing until I saw Finneas, Billie’s brother, on stage and actually came to terms with what was happening. She was finally here, after so many years, and she was making sure to make up for the wait by singing some of her earlier hits like “idontwannabeyouanymore,” “bellyache,” and “ocean eyes”. The crowd roared from beginning to end, starting with “bury a friend” and finishing up the night with “bad guy” and “Happier Than Ever.”

Saturday, March 18th:

Friday was a hard day to top. Once again, the blazing heat made it difficult to enjoy the first few hours of the festival, as local artists such as Young Cister and Nano Stern took to the stages. But my bad mood went away once Suki Waterhouse came on, with a candid but sexy vibe taking over the crowd at the smaller Alternative stage. Wearing all pink and joined by a mostly female band, she delivered beautiful renditions of songs like “Moves,” “Nostalgia,” and “Good Looking.”

The angelic AURORA took over one of the main stages at around 6pm, giving the audience one of the most visually astonishing performances of the day. Looking like a real fairy, she won over the Chilean crowd for a second time, speaking some broken Spanish and letting them know how grateful she is by the love and support. (Photos by @fmedinaeffio)

But the real talk of the night was around Rosalía, as the Spanish sensation closed out the second biggest stage that night. With a reimagined version of her Motomami tour, the 30-year-old managed to get the entire park jumping and dancing. Being one of the few Spanish-speaking artists that has managed to not only sell out huge venues but also headline a festival like Lollapalooza, it was no surprise how big of a set she was going to have, and the changes she made to her own tour made the experience all that much more fun.

This left rapper Drake in a tough position, since he was supposed to be the biggest act of the night (but maybe he wasn’t). Singing seconds-long snippets of his biggest hits like “One Dance,” “Controlla,” “Hotline Bling,” and so many others, the audience was put off a little by how fast he was jumping from song to song. His set also only lasted around 45 minutes, when he was scheduled to play for at least an hour and a half. This included moments where the show had to be paused for security to handle the crowd. Overall, it wasn’t a huge disappointment since things seemed to go a lot worse in the neighboring country, Argentina, but it was definitely a strange performance and the fans were left wanting more.

Sunday, March 19th:

Sunday was my favorite day. The lineup had a lot of my favorite bands of all time, and all at the main stage. Fans for all three bands, Wallows, The 1975 and Twenty One Pilots, had been waiting outside of the park since around 5am, some of them expecting to see all three, some only two of them, or only one.

Wallows got to go first, and coming from a high in Argentina where they sold out their Sideshow, I do believe that they were a little disappointed with the Chilean crowd’s energy, or maybe they were just as tired as everyone else that had been at the festival for two full days already. Frontman Dylan Minnette, had to pause the performance and ask for security to help people in the crowd twice, cutting the flow of the set a bit. However, since they were also supposed to attend the 2020 version of the festival, lots of people were expecting them and you could hear the sea of people singing the words to most of their songs.

Making their third appearance at the festival, and fourth in the country, The 1975 was still one of the most anticipated acts, as they go through a new wave of fame that, as Matty Healy admitted, came from TikTok. Staying on brand, Healy came on stage holding a bottle of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other, and he got a chance to hide behind some cool sunglasses since they were playing at the brightest point of the evening. Although he got mad at the camera team at one point and scared some of the bystanders who were not familiar with his shenanigans, the performance went on without major incidents, and my only complaint was the lack of iconic songs like “Girls,” “Love Me,” and “fallingforyou”.

Kevin Parker from Tame Impala (in a frat boy voice: did you know Tame Impala was only one guy?) broke his hip right before the beginning of his festival run, but still decided to come, getting on stage on actual crutches. The show revolved around some crazy visuals to give the performance a psychedelic atmosphere that Kevin himself couldn’t give it, since he was barely standing on his feet. He pulled through though, and though it was a little bit of a sad scene to look at, he did it, and we love him for that. (Photos by @garygopohoto).

Lastly, and closing out the entire weekend, Twenty One Pilots had the job of filling Blink-182’s void, a pretty tough job if you ask me, especially since their demographics don’t overlap much. I am most certainly one of the most biased people to be talking about this performance (TØP have been my favorite band since middle school), but I believe that it was tangible how appreciative the crowd was of the boys’ show. They didn’t only play Blink’s First Date for those fans who hadn’t resold their ticket and stayed for their set, but they also included a Trumpet solo of two quintessential Chilean songs (doing the same thing in Argentina too). After all, Twenty One Pilots have been known to know how to put on a show, and the ambiance of their performances was able to cut through all the bad energy they received on the days after their appearance was announced.

Since I have been going to the OG Lollapalooza in Chicago for the past two years, it’s a little strange to come back to the version of the festival I used to know and to try to analyze it, because everything just feels a little off. As pretentious as it sounds, most of my favorite artists play in the early afternoon in the American version, and I rarely care about the headliners, while here I had the completely opposite experience. It honestly might be because I’m getting old, and also because while being away I haven’t kept up to date with the local scene and I just don’t know a lot of the artists (which is a little embarrassing to admit). However, I still love the idea that my country was the first one to have its own Lollapalooza, and that after 12 years it’s still going. I think that says a lot about the way we appreciate music down here, and how we are able to connect with these artists even from far away.

Check out our previous festival coverage here.

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