BY MITCHELL HERRMANN For the Sun-Times
"Let's get right for the summer," the Cool Kids chanted at their Sunday show at Perry's stage. In fact, they already were right for summer. The Cool Kids, an alternative hip-hop duo with Chicago roots, started uncertainly but soon found their groove as they rapped in unison over booming 808s and minimalistic synth lines. Chuck Inglish, wearing a striped shirt neatly tucked into khaki shorts, rhymed about lemonade and swimwear as his partner Mikey Rocks climbed up the light scaffolding, nearly dropping his microphone in the process. A full live band and guest singer Tennille joined the rappers on stage a few songs into the set to add guitar, bass, keyboards, acoustic drums and vocals to the Cool Kids' stripped-down rap tracks. The group's Chicago origins are reflected in their lyrics, and the crowd cheered each time the city was referenced.
Busy P, a k a Pedro Winter, began his six o'clock set at Perry's just as a torrential rainfall hit Grant Park and turned the tent into a giant mud pit. This didn't seem to bother the soaked crowd, who cheered louder as the rain and wind increased. Winter has long been an important force in the world of French house music, as the manager of Daft Punk and more recently as the head of Ed Banger Records, whose lineup includes Justice, Cassius and Sebastian. Although his set was mostly the type of French electro house characteristic of his label, Winter started by ironically playing a breezy reggae song about the shining sun. By the time he finished an hour later, the sun was indeed shining again.
Rapper Kid Cudi has made two albums featuring his moody introspection, but somehow he seemed considerably less lonely and disaffected when surrounded by thousands of adoring fans as the final act at Perry's Stage on Sunday night. "I hope they understand that I really understand," Cudi rapped, taking off his dark sunglasses and staring earnestly into the crowd as though making a personal confession. Cudi's half-sung, half-rapped lyrics were chanted throughout the show by his rapturous fans, even when Cudi and his backing band performed covers like "Hey Joe" by Jimi Hendrix and "All of the Lights" by Cudi's mentor, Kanye West (who Cudi referred to repeatedly as his "big brother").
The show ended on a sour note, however, when the sound was cut just as Cudi was starting his last song. Cudi defiantly led the crowd in an a cappella version of "Pursuit of Happiness" before his mic was finally cut, as well, after which the crowd continued to sing line after line as the drummer accompanied on his unamplified kit. When Cudi finally exited the stage, he angrily pushed over a stack of speakers, echoing the frustration fans had felt over the past three days at the festival's strict time limits.
The new Perry's Stage, with its larger size and improved light system, was clearly a hit with thousands of aspiring ravers at Lollapalooza. The new tent setup had its advantages, as well, but despite its increased capacity Perry's was still not quite big enough for some of the acts, and this resulted in a few uncomfortably overcrowded shows.