I’m not the right person to write this report about Lana Del Rey and her performance at Lollapalooza in Grant Park on Sunday night. I am Gen X and male and until recently Lana Del Rey was a casual acquaintance on my diet. For a while, I was afraid of having to join Lollapalooza to do this assignment. I am old, Lolla is young and I am old. Plus, when Lana sings in “Brooklyn Baby” about her disdain for older hipsters born in 1985 who didn’t think she understood the “freedom of the seventies”, that vulnerability strikes me, and it embarrasses me. cultural profiling in situ.
I could have been that watchman once.
But that is in the past. Ask my parents: Even my daughter, who is a Lana fan, has been begging me to leave Lana alone for at least six months. I’m for Lana. I’d rather listen to Lana. How I felt in Lollapalooza, in the crowd, almost stacked on the stage, surrounded by fans Only discussing his music was a complete distraction I hadn’t felt since I was young. When I hear Taylor Swift, I hear someone wishing she could write songs as good as Lana. I’m not on the payroll – not yet – but Lana, if you need someone to refill your pen, I’ll quit.
Yet so much has been written about former Lizzie Grant since the groundbreaking “Born to Die” debuted 11 years ago, it’s surprising that Lizzie still seems so underappreciated. Notoriously, her early years of stardom were spent fleeing attacks on her well-to-do East Coast family and physical appearance; In one of the most severe cases of critical myopia/misogyny, it was labeled as a fabrication, as if Bob Dylan or Lady Gaga (or any pop singer of the last 60 years) was organically grown. His past has lasted and he’s proven to be a prolific, eccentric songwriter and top critics’ darling—his albums are too adventurous for a regular stamp of approval. But at the same time, it may seem like it has never had enough footing outside of a large pack-or-die loyalist. Basically, it’s not quite as ubiquitous as it should be, but Miss Ubiquitous, Taylor Swift, were in the audience on her Eras tour, with Del Rey’s new album “Did You Know There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” (which is both Taylor classy and absolutely true).
It might be strange to read all of this if you were there on a Sunday night.
At times, it felt like every living organism younger than 19 in the Chicago area was crammed into the north end of Grant Park. The banners read “LanaPalooza,” and a young boy next to me was wearing a T-shirt with a handmade message scribbled on his chest: “I don’t believe in God. But I believe in Lana Del Rey.” (Dylan, really.) All of this is even more remarkable if you consider that Sunday night, at the south end of Grant Park, the Red Hot Chili Peppers drew a Bible-sized crowd. It’s like a big party a mile away on the Boulevard, or even a bigger cabaret. It’s hard to stress how extraordinary this really is, especially if you don’t know anything about Lana Del Rey. Despite the audience as far as the eye can see, for the smoldering fatalist piano smoldering sighing sighing
Del Rey, at a festival setting, Barbie stops the dance floor to ask if anyone is thinking of dying. She sang about dying while driving 99 miles an hour, and sang a poignant hymn about her family’s future called “The Grants,” which asked a non-festival question of the same name:
“Do you think of heaven?”
In Lolla, artist after artist could play like variations of an old plan, while Del Rey sang with a lone swoon in her voice and a great sense of drama that gained sobriety and soul after ten years of great recording. Plus, she doesn’t verbally write about her feelings—no mood board patch of motivation and self-care—as much as she’s passionately wondering what the meaning of her life should be now. To call him thoughtful and shapeless is to call Dylan too long. I’m sorry I’ve been fending off Dylan so often here, but there was something very Dylan-like going on there on Sunday. It was messy. He changed the lyrics. One moment he looked restless and fidgety, and the next he was baldly restrained. In “Cherry,” an ominous, somber crush supported a caustic approach to one-sided love. He seemed indebted to the Great American Songbook; He took the stage with the song “Nature Boy” by Nat King Cole. He led an audience that was ecstatic with the weight of his words. But unlike Dylan, he was generous and sweet; He walked across the audience barrier and took selfies and made awkward, playful small talk with loyalists, his microphone picking up some of the conversations.
Fan: “Do you remember me?”
Lana: “I do.”
Fan: “STOP NOW!”
There’s so much charm and talent out there, it’s hard not to wish Del Rey had put on a less intense show with fewer dancers and distracting bits of theatrical drama. There were dining tables with candlesticks and “Sleeping Beauty” mirrors and a man staring at the side wearing a patch that said “CIA” and I’m sure that sometimes gave the illusion of a music video, but the band is tight and cinematic music. Also, in a festival setting, theaters tend to get lost in clouds of mud, exhaustion and weeds – it’s like putting Ibsen on at a block party.
On the other hand, it is never boring or stupid.
It began with an anthem that turned into babbling in a schoolyard: “Your mother called, I told her, (swear) you have a big time.” And she closed it with “Hope Is a Dangerous Thing For A Woman Like Me – But I Have It,” a kind of missing link between PJ Harvey’s laments and Swift’s self-empowerment. She sang: “Don’t ask me if I’m happy, you know I’m not. / But at best, I can say that I am not sorry.” Then Lana Del Rey leaned against a long white blanket and was dragged off the stage. He sings: “You love your daughters like crazy.” She sings: “My boyfriend tested positive for COVID, it doesn’t matter. / We’re kissing, so whatever I have, I can’t cry.” Not the defining player of a generation. He defines himself, but like any great writer, he digs uncomfortably deep into your innards, knowing you too.