Features Festivals Show Reviews

Staged Haze Takes Lollapalooza 2023: Our Recap

After a year off of Lollapalooza, Staged Haze returned to Grant Park to cover the 2023 edition of the infamous festival in our publication’s home city. It’s hard to believe that I (Kristin) have now attended Lollapalooza nine times – it would have been ten if not for that one thing that happened in 2020 that we’d all like to forget about. 

Despite what you may hear about the chaos that goes on inside the gates of Grant Park every first weekend of August in Chicago, there’s something intrinsically special that connects all hundreds of thousands of attendees who make the trek to these four days of live music. A music festival at this caliber is not for the weak: it takes a special type of stamina to commit your body to hours and hours of live music, unreliable weather, and being surrounded by 100,000 strangers on any given day. If you wanted to, you could see 40 hours of live music in 4 days – pretty special if you ask me. 

Since the last time I attended Lollapalooza was 2021, I feel like I hadn’t experienced what a festival was truly like living in a TikTok world. Of course, the app was definitely big during 2021 and was certainly a tool for artists to rely on when live music wasn’t possible, but we hadn’t necessarily seen the effects of a viral TikTok moment translating to a live setting just yet. That all changed with the 2023 Lollapalooza lineup: I can’t even count how many times I mentioned to my friends or other festival-goers that “that artist has that one viral TikTok song” or “they’re huge on TikTok.” It’s not a good or a bad thing, it’s simply something you can’t ignore when you take a look at a lineup of this caliber, likely indefinitely at this point (unless TikTok actually gets banned). More on this later.


The Beaches

We kicked off our weekend with a set from The Beaches, a four-piece, all female band hailing from Canada who have been making and releasing music together for several years, but have only just begun to make their mark on the US music scene, thanks to the virality of their recent single, “Blame Brett,” a song about the woes that come with recovering from a toxic ex-partner. While introducing the song during their set at the Bud Light Stage—which they opened that day—the band mentioned that they’ve been told that this is the “Song of The Summer” and I’d venture to agree.

The band’s live performance was upbeat, interactive, and downright a good time. The Beaches’ sound walks a fine line between indie rock and pop, and seeing them live definitely brought out the rock elements of their sound, at some points it was just a straight up jam session that would impress even the stone coldest of cynical rock enthusiasts. – Kristin

We had a chance to chat with the band after their set:

“It was definitely on the bucket list for us, it’s a world renown festival so no matter who we tell, everybody knows it,” said Kylie Miller, guitarist and backing vocalist. They’re excitement also transferred behind the scenes, as they admitted they still got starstruck by seeing some celebrities walking around, but nothing compared to the high they felt while performing. “It feels like a career highlight for us. We wish we could go back on stage and do it all over again,” added the band’s frontwoman, Jordan Miller.

With a new album on the way, the girls also spoke to us about the creative process and how this might be the best project they’ve ever worked on. The girls all got broken up with in the span of a few months, society was rebuilding itself after Covid, and simultaneously they were dropped from their label.

But despite the tumultuous origin of the project, Jordan Miller assures that it “is really about us discovering ourselves through our art and through each other. Through our relationships with other women, with our families and friends, and becoming better, stronger and more talented people as a result.” – Javi


By 3pm, it was William Gold (aka Wilbur Soot)’s indie rock band’s turn, which was –in my eyes– one of the most promising sets of the weekend. Will has a following of his own as a Twitch streamer and YouTuber, but the numbers weren’t necessarily going to transfer into his music affairs. However, Lovejoy’s music is contagious and energetic, and it sort of brings the feeling I would get when listening to bands like The Strokes or Arctic Monkeys for the first time. Although it was an early set on Thursday, which naturally had a smaller crowd, the band’s genuinity and uplifting atmosphere made up for a great set at one of the festival’s main stages.

Main stages are a lot of times harder to please, because so many people are waiting for the headliner, and also just because the space you are given is so massive that it is super noticeable when you’re not able to fill it up (literally and figuratively). However, by the time “Call Me What You Like,” the band’s biggest song, came around, the boys had already grown confident and the bystanders around the stage had warmed up to their charisma and good tunes, building up the energy and spur necessary to enjoy the upbeat rock song that probably got them on that stage in the first place. – Javi

Spacey Jane

Directly across from Lovejoy’s set, Australia-natives Spacey Jane came out on stage. In the past year I have come to love Spacey Jane progressively more and more, especially every time I’ve seen them live. I got the chance to see them twice this weekend, at the festival and at their Aftershow at Bottom Lounge, and both times I was amazed and even surprised at how much I enjoy watching them perform. I’ve always thought their music is great, but the amount of vitality they pour into their live sets is not something I get to see often.

Although in the U.S. they’re very much a bro-band (I have been told by their close circle –their photographer– that it is not like this back in Australia, where they’re from), the ambience at their shows feels very embracing and liberated. People are there for the good music, for the relatable but still divergent lyrics, and the band is performing for everyone and anyone that is willing to listen. For that same reason, the Coinbase stage was absolutely packed during their set, and their audience grew by the second as soon as they started playing, arriving to new ears that hopefully will learn to love Spacey Jane as much as I and so many others do. – Javi

Sofi Tukker

As I’ve grown up and my taste in music has evolved over the years, I’ve allowed myself to enjoy music simply because it’s fun—a concept that I wouldn’t have allowed myself to submit to in my younger 20s when I was adamant that pop music shouldn’t be considered ‘good’ music. This has certainly gone out the window as I’ve continued to broaden my musical horizons, especially when it comes to dance music. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much an amateur when it comes to this genre, but thanks to the help of festivals like Lollapalooza, experiencing it in a live setting has made me appreciate that style of music that much more. 

Incoming Sofi Tukker—a musical duo made of two friends who connected in the scene several years ago and decided to create a whimsical, bright, and contagiously fun sound of their own, one quite honestly unique compared to many of the acts I saw over Lollapalooza weekend. 

Their hour-long set boasted over 15 songs, including a fun remix of the infamous “The White Lotus” season 2 theme song (video here), a timely remix of “Barbie Girl” by Aqua, and performances of the duo’s biggest songs, including “Best Friend,” “Summer in New York,” and “Purple Hat,” to name a few. Despite the late afternoon set, Sofi Tukker had an impressive amount of props onstage incorporated into their performance, including a jungle gym and a merry-go-round, furthering the easygoing, entertainment vibes of the performance. It’s always fun to see an artist that plays this style of music on the main stage, because it’s inevitable that there are other attendees stumbling onto the set with no prior knowledge of the artists’ music, and hopefully becoming a fan of them afterwards. – Kristin

Noah Kahan

If you’re reading this, the likelihood that you’re familiar with folk singer-songwriter Noah Kahan and his phenomenally quick rise to fame over the past year or so. I’d be lying if I told you that I even saw a glimpse of the man’s face during his 6pm set at Lollapalooza due to the insane draw he pulled at the Coinbase Side Stage (he definitely would have been a better pick for the main stage). The sing-alongs lasted the entire set as Kahan, who’s only 26-years-old, maneuvered through performances of fan favorites like “Dial Drunk,” “Northern Attitude,” and of course, “Stick Season,” which featured an appearance from fellow collaborator Joy Oladakun. – Kristin

Carly Rae Jepsen

The last time I saw Carly Rae Jepsen at Lollapalooza was in 2018, and looking back, she definitely drew a large crowd, but I still feel like we were living in a time where she wasn’t getting her due when she should have been. Fast forward a whopping five years later, and she’s finally getting her flowers—a set on a main stage AND easily one of the largest crowds I saw all weekend.

The average listener may be surprised to know that Carly has released five albums, the latest just released at the end of last month, but everyone I saw attending her set was very much in tune with her discography, a feat that isn’t easy to accomplish as a radio-friendly artist. She didn’t leave the stage without performing her hits, of course, including “Call Me Maybe,” “I Really Like You,” and “Cut To the Feeling,” but she also gave songs like “Surrender My Heart,” “Shy Boy,” and “Want You In My Room” some time to shine.


Something about this year’s Lollapalooza weekend that was special to me was having the chance to see artists I’ve never seen perform live before! This absolutely happens every year regardless, but this year in particular, it felt more of a common thread than not. With that being said, I decided to see Diplo perform on Thursday night instead of Billie Eilish. We’ve covered Billie several times at this point, and minus the additions of maybe two or three new songs, the set would have been pretty similar to the one I saw her perform at Coachella in 2022.

Like I mentioned previously, dance music is not (normally) my cup of tea, so I wasn’t going into the set with any expectations. I had an enjoyable time, the crowd was vast (and respectful), and seemed to enjoy the songs he chose to perform. I have to admit I left the set scratching my head when I realized he didn’t perform “Where Are Ü Now,” easily the biggest song of his discography and the most commercially well-known. It has even surpassed 1 billion plays on Spotify.

Matt Maltese


Hemlocke Springs

It’s always a fun time heading to the park early to catch some of the acts at the BMI Stage – one that’s noticeably much smaller than the rest of the stages, with less bells and whistles and more focus on actually determining the quality of an artists’ performance. I started with Hemlocke Springs’ 1pm set on Friday at this shaded stage, and I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of people who showed up! It’s definitely difficult to get a crowd of people to show up that early in the day, especially on a weekday, and Hemlocke Springs, real name Isimeme Naomi Udu, managed to do just that. The 22-year-old singer from North Carolina is one of those TikTok artists I alluded to earlier: her single “Girlfriend” completely exploded on the app last year, which is now just shy of 30 million streams on Spotify.

Springs is so early in her career that despite being given a full forty minutes to perform, she played just about 22 minutes, including a cover of Kylie Minogue’s “Love Me,” along with just five songs that she’s released thus far, ever. It’s pretty rare to see an artist with such little music to play get a spot at such a massive festival, which certainly says something about where she’s headed. – Kristin

Sudan Archives

What do you get when you combine R&B electronic music with a violin player? Sudan Archives! Brittany Denise Parks got her start as a kid when she learned how to play violin by ear, eventually finding inspiration by African violinists, noting that the instrument “brings the party” in other places in the world. 

Arguably the most unique performance of the weekend, Sudan Archives effortlessly integrated her violin skills into her set, even taking a few minutes of the hour-long set to perform a “traditional Irish jig” to showcase some of the music that inspired her over the years. This was such a fun and wholesome moment of the set, I can only imagine what it looked like from people walking by, scratching their heads at this unique sight to see.

Of course, other fabulous moments of the set include her performance of “Home Maker,” “OMG BRITT,” which sounds like it could be a Rico Nasty song, and “NBPQ (Topless),” encouraging audience members to tell themselves they’re not ‘average,’ just like she says in the song about herself. – Kristin

Charlotte Sands

If anyone tells you that pop punk is dead, I suggest you tell them they are absolutely incorrect. We’ve said this before, but the up and coming artists in this genre are absolutely killing it this year, and it’s even more exciting to see more women being included in this discussion. That’s where Charlotte Sands comes in, an artist I recommended in our Lolla pre-coverage, who had the chance to show off her chops on Friday not once, but twice—first during a Bud Light Backyard Session, second at the BMI Stage. Sands is probably best known for her collaboration with The Maine and Taking Back Sunday on the track “Loved You A Little,” as well as her breakout song “Dress,” inspired by Harry Styles.

It’s easy to see that Sands is ready to perform on a bigger stage, I was impressed with her presence and commitment to lots of head banging without missing any of her big notes. That’s the unique thing about Sands, she definitely has the vocal range to perform in virtually any contemporary genre at the moment, including pop, and the power in her voice reminds me a lot of Demi Lovato. The pop punk sound suits her energy perfectly though, and with songs like “Bad Day,” “Tantrum,” and “Rollercoaster,” garnering massive sing alongs from her fans, it seems like she knows what she’s doing. – Kristin

Peach Pit

I’m still not sure if I hadn’t realized how big Peach Pit was, if they blew up recently, or if they just happened to gain a lot of attention with their 3:45pm set on Friday, but boy was I speechless when I saw the crowd they had. Being one of my top 5 artists of the weekend, I was already super excited to watch their show and was overflowing with joy by just seeing them on stage, but then I was simply overwhelmed by the amount of praise they were getting—in a good way!

Peach Pit is one of those bands that you can tell is just a group of dudes that really liked music and started making the kind that they love. You can tell by the way they play, move, dance and talk that they absolutely love the opportunity to perform anywhere. Getting to see them do exactly that in front of a roaring crowd was such a teary-eyed moment for me, and I’m hoping it will be a core memory for them too (if they’re not immune to the magic of those moments already).
– Javi

Sabrina Carpenter

I am once asking the Lollapalooza organizers to give mainstream female pop musicians a bigger stage to perform on when they’re at Lollapalooza. This has happened almost every year I’ve attended, and giving these artists a smaller stage really affects the quality of the performance. Sabrina Carpenter was one of those artists this year, who ended up on the Coinbase Side Stage on Friday afternoon, resulting in one of the most overcrowded, uncomfortable sets of the weekend. 

I tried very hard to not let this affect my enjoyment of the set, however, considering Carpenter was one of the artists I was looking forward to the most all weekend, and she certainly delivered a great set. Decked out in a sparkly pink outfit with a heart-shaped top that Barbie would die for, Carpenter opened her set with “Read your Mind” from her 2022 album Emails I Can’t Send, the album in which the majority of her songs performed came from.

She did pay homage to her older songs, including “Paris,” “Sue Me,” and “Looking At Me,” and also played a fun and whimsical cover of “Lay All Your Love On Me” by ABBA. The standouts of the set have to be “Vicious” and “Nonsense,” in my opinion – and I am super excited for Carpenter to continue her trek to pop domination when she embarks on the European Dates of the Eras Tour in 2024 with none other than Taylor Swift.  – Kristin

Declan McKenna

Last time Declan was in Chicago, it was his first time back touring after the pandemic, and we (the fans) could tell he was still getting used to it all again. Don’t get me wrong, he still delivered an amazing performance back then and his music is immaculate, but this time around there was a spark that now we can confirm was missing last year. The boy is confident again, he is having fun and he is leaving it all on the stage.

Both during his aftershow on Thursday and his Friday set, Declan could be seen thriving, he was coming up to the crowd, jumping around, enjoying his performance the way he used to do when he was playing small venues and Brazil hadn’t blown the eff up. He even ended up performing shirtless on both occasions. I was so happy to see him come back to who he was before we were all severely emotionally distraught due to Covid.

To no surprise, he performed at the indie/alternative stage, which is the second smallest one at the festival, but he could’ve easily played at a bigger one and have gotten a big enough crowd to make it his own. He even captioned his Instagram post about the festival with “Oops I guess we’ll need a bigger stage next time,” and he could not be more right. – Javi

The 1975

Fresh off a major controversy after a botched performance in Kuala Lumpur, The 1975 returned to Lollapalooza for the first time since 2016 (!!!) to make their headlining debut on Friday night, unfortunately playing at the same time as the South Stage headliner, Kendrick Lamar (this still hurts me that I had to choose between the two). They absolutely still drew a massive crowd to their stage, all the while I was crossing my fingers that Matty Healy would keep his mouth shut this time around (outside of singing, of course). 

It didn’t feel like the 75-minute set was enough for the band, who has now released five full length albums. About a third of the set was dedicated to performing songs off their 2022 release, Being Funny in A Foreign Language, including “Looking for Somebody to (to Love),” “About You,” “Happiness,” “I’m In Love With You,” and “Oh Caroline.” I was taken aback by the choice of including “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes),” considering it’s a slower song and I’d assume a lesser-known one, instead of opting for an older track like “The City” or “UGH!” 

Like I mentioned, 75 minutes isn’t enough time for this act to fully shine in a headlining performance, considering it’s only 15 minutes more than 75% of the artists who performed at Lollapalooza (many of them got an hour-long time slot). With that being said, I do think they made the most of what was given to them, and overall did a good job covering the highlights of their discography. – Kristin

Giant Rooks



After missing one of my personal favorites, Arlie, because of a flat tire (sniff), Windser’s set ended up being the first one of my day on Saturday, which actually compensated for the sadness I was already dragging with me into Grant Park. I had met Jordan the day before at the festival, so even though I had come to Lolla already as a fan of his music, the approach now felt different because I knew how excited he was and how nice of a person he is. The BMI stage can be a little underwhelming at times, and on top of that, it was pouring rain all morning that day. However, the people showed up for Windser, and deservingly so.

Jordan Topf’s down-to-earth, immersive energy created a calming but exciting ambience, perfect for an artist like him, as he talked to the crowd and in between his sad soft boy songs. I am inevitably biased now since I got to spend a decent amount of time with him, but I promise that I mean it when I say that Windser is someone to keep an eye on for the next few years, as his songs make their way into the big leagues and big playlists, and as his charming personality gets him a fanbase that’ll help him get to the top. – Javi

Sylvan Esso

Whenever I get the opportunity to Sylvan Esso, I will absolutely take it. They’ve been making some of my favorite dance music over the last five years or so, and I love how unique their sound is, and their performance is so unapologetically “them,” it’s always a fun time. I was happy to see that they drew a massive crowd on Saturday afternoon, which actually resulted in the band posting that it was “the biggest show we’ve ever played” afterwards on Instagram.

The last time I saw them at Lollapalooza, they played an early evening set on a side stage, and the crowd was far too big to actually enjoy the set because it was difficult to even find a spot to see, let alone dance. I’m assuming this was a sign to the festival planners that they needed to be put on a main stage, and I’m glad they did!

It can be difficult to keep a crowd’s attention when it’s very likely that a majority of the attendees are only there to hear about two or three songs they know by said artist, but despite Sylvan Esso playing a handful of non-singles, including many from their 2022 album No Rules Sandy, I felt like the crowd was absolutely into it from start to end. Coming from someone who knew every song they played, it could have gone south, and I didn’t feel like it was like that in the slightest. 

My favorite moments included a sweet and meaningful performance of the song “Die Young,” “Ferris Wheel,” and “Numb.” – Kristin


If you read our posts regularly, you already know that I’m a big fan of NIKI, and was looking forward to seeing her this year at Lollapalooza. Unfortunately I didn’t feel like the vibe was totally correct during her hour-long set, not to anyone’s fault by any means, more so like circumstance. I think she was put on the wrong stage (Tito’s), and would have had a more energetic audience to play for at a smaller stage with a better set up and a screen.

The majority of her music is a bit softer and slower tempo, and I felt like it didn’t really translate in a live setting at a festival in the way that it could have (and likely does) at her own show. I do feel like the crowd was into it, and I probably only knew about 50% of the setlist, so all of these things definitely factor into my experience. It was really lovely to see how much of a response she got during her closing performance of “Every Summertime,” however, and I know she left the stage with her Lollapalooza debut. – Kristin

Aidan Bissett

Annie DiRusso

Suki Waterhouse

Maggie Rogers

Alex G


Ella Jane

Watching Ella Jane perform felt a little like watching one of your best friends do something they’ve been looking forward to for a long time. You can’t help but feel a certain closeness to her, as she sings about everyday struggles in beautiful melodies – she’s like the musical representation of the “girly experience” and you can see yourself in her both on and off the stage.

I believe that even though she is very friendly in person and outgoing on social media, she couldn’t help but feel a little nervous about her first Lollapalooza gig, especially since it was also her first time ever at the festival. I even walked to the wrong stage at first because I just assumed she was playing at BMI (the smaller one for newer artists), which I thought would’ve made sense, but the crowd at the Bacardí stage were more than ready for her early set, with their rain ponchos and makeshift covers, and a loud choir could be heard singing her songs back to her throughout the set.

Ella is only 21-years-old, so this is just the beginning for her, and so far it’s been a good start. I’m sure she’ll be back at Lolla in the near future and even bigger crowd will be there to welcome her back. – Javi

Holly Humberstone

I have been wanting to see Holly live for a while now (I almost did last year but the show I was going to was canceled), and the wait was finally over for me. Holly’s angelical aura, juxtapositioned with her goth-ish bad-girl persona, made for a performance even better than I had imagined. Her sweetness and warmness went perfectly along with her honey-syrup voice, and her English charisma made the whole set feel like her own concert.

Even if the approach felt innocent and almost shy at times, her presence filled out the stage and brought the audience close for an intimate but abrasive set. With only a couple projects in her discography, it was hard for the setlist not to feel familiar to most, and she was all smiles as the crowd sang every lyric to every song she played. It was such a lovely view to see her happy on stage, even as she sang some of the most depressing songs you’ll ever hear. She’s one of those people that move flawlessly on a stage, and I’m glad she got to experience a Lolla audience while she’s still early in her career. – Javi

Maisie Peters

Despite having the highly coveted late afternoon slot at Lollapalooza’s Coinbase Stage on Sunday, Maisie Peter’s crowd was smaller than I anticipated. It may have been due to the fact that several areas of the pit were completely trashed with soppy mud, or maybe because Javi noticed that the park seemed less packed than the previous day. Either way, Peters had no problem keeping her small(ish) but mighty crowd entertained. This was my first time seeing Maisie Peters live, and it was also her first time performing at Lollapalooza. She’s about to embark on a massive tour with Ed Sheeran, who signed Peters to his label, so it was definitely a practice run for performances to come.

I’m more familiar with the music featured on Peters’ recent album The Good Witch, so I can admit that I lost a bit of connection to her performance for the older songs. I don’t think this was common in the crowd by any regard, though, I noticed that a girl in her early 20s, who appeared next to me maybe five minutes into the set, told her friend that she “knew more of the songs than she realized.” This makes sense, considering Peters has been releasing music since 2017. I enjoyed the performance, but I am curious to see how Peters grows her stage presence beyond the typical motions a solo pop musician makes while onstage. Peters is only 23-years-old, so she definitely has plenty of opportunities ahead of her to perfect her moves. – Kristin

Rina Sawayama

I sped-walked to the other end of Grant Park to catch Rina Sawayama’s set on the Bud Light Stage. Thank god they gave that woman a main stage, because she absolutely drew a massive crowd. I have had the chance to see Rina live twice, once at Coachella last year and once in LA at her own show last year as well. Neither of these experiences can measure up to the spectacle she put on at Lollapalooza: I’m not sure if it’s because her budget has increased or what, but the caliber of performance she put on felt much more massive and alive compared to ones I’ve seen in the past. It was headliner-worthy: featuring multiple costume changes, onstage props, and even a bit of an acting skit towards the end of the set to remind everyone that she can in fact act (she just made her movie debut in the latest “John Wick” movie). 

One thing I adore about Rina is how effortlessly she’s able to maneuver between genres: one minute she’s singing a dance song (“Lucid Dreams”) and the next she’s literally headbanging to a metal song (“STFU”) and then rocking out to an indie pop song (“Imagining,” “Hurricanes”). But one of my favorite moments of the set was the addition of “Blind” by Korn and “Break Stuff” by Limp Bizkit at the beginning and end of “STFU,” a wonderful nod to the genres that have inspired her music to get to what it is now—very subtle that if you don’t know the songs, you’d certainly miss it. Closing her set with “This Hell” was a lovely end to the evening, and also my Lollapalooza weekend. – Kristin

The Backseat Lovers

I saw The Backseat Lovers at Lolla once already, in 2021, my first time at the Chicago version of the festival (until then I had gone for years to the Chilean one), and even then the crowd seemed ridiculously huge for the early set they got that year. This time around, however, they got to close out a stage that faces one of the main ones, which also meant they were given the possibility to fill out that entire space too, and that is exactly what they did.

The day had been messy, it had been raining for two days and the park was mostly mud and dirt, and the park looked pretty empty for most of the day as people avoided the bad weather. However, right around the time the set before theirs was about to be over, the crowd grew exponentially. Joshua took to the stage barefoot, as he does, and it was only euphoria from beginning to end. Their energy filled out the entire south half of the park as they sang newer songs and older classics to a roaring crowd that knew every single word.

Although known to be pretty reserved, they did not seem too worried about hiding their excitement and happiness on the stage – after all, in a matter of a year or two they became one of the most prominent names in almost every music festival lineup, and they’re probably still experiencing the high of it. It was a good way to close out the weekend (I wasn’t super excited about either of the openers that day), watching one of my favorite bands close out a stage and surprise everyone with an electric performance with a crowd of devoted fans and newcomers. The Backseat Lovers feels very nostalgic even if they’re still pretty new, which also made for a great soundtrack to say goodbye to Grant Park, to this year’s version of Lolla, and for me, to Chicago for a while. – Javi

Neil Frances


Magdalena Bay