Korean artists made history in Chicago at this year’s Lollapalooza, which took place from August 3 to 6 in Grant Park. One of America’s largest and longest-running music festivals, Lollapalooza drew an estimated 400,000 music lovers from around the world for a weekend full of music, food, and fun. This year, boy group TOMORROW X TOGETHER (also known as TXT for short) became the first-ever K-Pop group to headline Lollapalooza’s flagship Chicago event in the festival’s 32-year history. Last year, TXT had the honor of being the first-ever K-Pop group to perform at the festival. Across Lollapalooza’s four days, TXT, along with NewJeans, The Rose, ARMNHMR, DPR LIVE, and DPR IAN put Korean music’s increasing popularity on full display and represented the festival’s ever-expanding representation of genres.
Day 1 of Lollapalooza kicked off with a bang as breakout group NewJeans became the first female K-Pop act to perform at the festival. Their highly-anticipated appearance was complemented by a one-day-only, pop-up booth in collaboration with Spotify called Bunnyland. Throughout the day, fans (called Bunnies) queued up in long lines for the opportunity to win exclusive, bunny-themed merch from a gigantic claw machine, build custom playlists, and make NewJeans-inspired crafts while supplies lasted.
When it came time for their performance, NewJeans attracted an estimated 70,000 attendees (one of the largest crowds for a non-headliner) to the T-Mobile Stage for their debut U.S. performance, ranging from casual listeners to diehard fans armed with lightsticks. Many fans arrived right at the festival’s opening in the morning to secure a good viewing spot for NewJeans’ 5PM set time. The viewing area nearest to the stage had become so packed that some attendees reportedly passed out in the 90-degree heat.
Supported by a full band and a small army of backup dancers, members Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin, and Hyein brought the Y2K-inspired heat, starting with “Hype Boy,” “Cookie,” “Hurt,” and “Attention.” With the Lollapalooza audience effectively warmed up, NewJeans then jumped into their viral hits “Ditto” and “OMG,” which put their soft vocals on display. The crowd enthusiastically danced along to the songs’ infamous choreography and sang along at the top of their lungs.
The supporting band then left the stage and a brief highlight reel of the music videos for “Super Shy,” “ETA,” and “Cool With You” played on the jumbotrons as NewJeans went backstage for a quick intermission. Once they returned, the set took a “clubbier” feel as they performed songs from their latest EP, Get Up. The group started with the experimental anthem, “New Jeans” before transitioning into the full version of “Super Shy.” After a quick energy check with the crowd, NewJeans then performed “ETA.”
Taking a quick water break, Minji asked the audience what their favorite NewJeans song was. Even outdoors, the audience’s murmurs and shouts of their favorite tracks echoed across the field. Minji noted that her personal favorite was “OMG” and asked the audience to sing along with them again. NewJeans began the chorus acapella, and on cue, the crowd sang the next part loud and clear. In a moment that was a testament to their popularity, the sheer volume of the voices shocked the members.
“I am so happy to see that so many of you like our music,” Haerin remarked. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget today!”
NewJeans then closed out their set with the debut live performances of “Cool With You” and “ASAP” to deafening cheers. In their final ment, the members expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to perform at Lollapalooza.
“It has been an absolute honor being on this stage in front of you. Thank you all for being so welcoming to us,” Hanni said. “We were really nervous before we came on stage but now we’re just really happy to be able to perform music in front of you like this.”
Hanni later continued her sentimental thoughts in a long calendar update message for Bunnies on NewJeans’ official fan communication app, Phoning. She wrote, “Being on that stage was one of the best experiences of my life and I know I’m gonna revisit that moment through my memories all the time.”
Later that night, Korean indie rock band The Rose closed out Lollapalooza’s Bacardí Stage. Black Roses, the band’s fanbase, filled out one of the park’s clearings in anticipation of the group’s performance – after playing a circuit of Lollapalooza’s Latin American spin-off festivals earlier this year, this would be their first time playing the mainstay Chicago event.
The start of their set was slightly delayed due to technical difficulties. Despite this, Black Roses waited patiently, making sure to cheer on members Woosung, Dojoon, Hajoon, and Jaehyung as they worked out most of the kinks. Once everything seemed to be ready to go, The Rose kicked off with the uplifting track, “Cure,” with fans joyfully singing along and waving lightsticks.
With the crowd’s energy up, the group then jumped right into “Candy (so good).” In one fun moment after singing, Dojoon got the crowd smiling when he shouted, “Lollapalooza! This feels freaking amazing!”
Next up was “I Don’t Know You,” which Black Roses immediately recognized by the steady drum progression of the song’s intro. “I wanna hear your voices,” Woosung called out, and the crowd did not disappoint. The Rose then went into the uptempo “RED,” a fun and energetic track that was fitting as the sky darkened during their set. Fans turned their lightsticks red to keep with the song’s theme. Woosung delighted fans when he did the ‘wavy arms’ dance move at the start of the second chorus which has become a beloved mainstay for live performances of the song.
After introducing themselves to the audience, Woosung noted that it was a very special day for them. “Exactly six years ago today, we released our first single as The Rose. So today we’re celebrating our sixth anniversary with all of you. It’s so beautiful; thank you so much for coming,” he said.
Dojoon added to the sentiment, “We never imagined that in six years, this was gonna happen.”
For the next part of the set, the band launched into their latest singles, which will be a part of their upcoming album, DUAL, which is due to be released in the fall. Black Roses jumped and screamed the lyrics of the anthemic track “Back to Me” seamlessly. The group followed up with “Alive,” which The Rose was performing for the first time live, and brought a sultry vibe to the Bacardí Stage. The crowd went wild for the song’s EDM-inspired breakdown, which was complemented by strobe lights onstage.
Performing “Shift,” the mood shifted to one that was more emotional as The Rose threw things back to their 2022 album, Heal. The crowd waved their hands and swayed along to the song. “Time,” another heart-wrenching song, was next. During the last chorus, Bacardí Stage echoed with the sound of only Black Roses singing the lyrics as the band played the instrumental.
Next was the carefree song “Yes,” Woosung and Dojoon took off their guitars to dance around the stage together and greet Black Roses on each side. The song also allowed Hajoon to showcase his vocals from where he sat on the drums, and Jaehyung also took the opportunity to move around and wave to fans as well while he played his bass.
The Rose then gifted fans with a gift of actual roses, each member taking a bundle to toss to lucky fans. Woosung asked attendees to be safe and not to push or fight since the front of the stage was already very crowded. “It’s just a rose!” he laughed.
Dojoon then went to the keyboard to play the opening chords for “Sorry,” the band’s hit debut single. The audience began to sing along reverently to Woosung’s raspy vocals, but unfortunately, tech problems struck again, distorting the sound of the band’s instruments.
“Fuck technical difficulties,” Woosung remarked lightheartedly. He joked that they now had some time to kill while Dojoon went backstage to get things fixed up. Woosung noticed the small picket signs that fans were holding were printed with well-wishes for The Rose’s anniversary, and he graciously thanked fans again. “We didn’t expect this many people because so many great artists are playing right now. You guys being here and listening to us means a lot. I wanted to give it my best.”
As they waited, Black Roses chanted “The Rose! The Rose! The Rose!” and made barking sounds to show their support.
“I’m so happy to be with you guys. This is our first time performing at night at a festival. It’s really amazing,” said Jaehyung, taking a moment to thank everyone who came out. Fans responded with deafening cheers.
Finally, Dojoon returned to the stage and The Rose got back into performing “Sorry.” Fans sang along even louder than they did the first time. Aside from one moment where Woosung’s voice cracked (to which he hilariously swore), the fan-favorite song went on without any more complications.
Lamenting the technical difficulties taking up so much of their set time, Woosung shared that it was sadly time for their last song. The Rose closed out their set with “Sour,” a signature power ballad that fans waved their hands side-to-side in sync. As the members left the stage, Black Roses raised their signs and shouted, “We Rose You” to commemorate The Rose’s anniversary.
Their career milestone with Lollapalooza wasn’t over, though – The Rose was also scheduled to headline one of the festival’s official Aftershows the following day. Stay tuned for KPC’s full coverage of the performance!
The festival’s second day also saw ARMNHMR, the Korean-American and Filipino-American EDM duo make their Lollapalooza debut at Perry’s Stage. Their set was just one stop on their run of appearances at festivals this summer such as Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, REBEL in Toronto, and Tomorrowland in Belgium.
Fans gathered at the stage on another day of searing heat to experience ARMNHMR’s experimental sounds and were not disappointed. The duo played original songs such as “Drowning,” “This is Goodbye,” and “Saving Lives.” They also got the crowd jumping and headbanging with remixes of popular songs like “Feel Good (feat. Daya)” by Illenium and Gryffin, and “Chemical” by Post Malone against strobe lights and visuals from anime like Spy x Family.
The remixes didn’t stop with Western hits, however. Halfway through their one-hour set, Joseph Chung (one-half of ARMNHMR), asked the audience, “Where are my BTS fans at?”The call seemed to awaken ARMY in the crowd of ravers, who immediately raised their hands and cheered. The duo then went into their infamous remix of “Dynamite,” which has become an anticipated part of ARMNHMR’s live performances.
K-Pop fans were again fed with ARMNHMR’s dance-dubstep remix of “OMG” (mashed up with YUSSI’s remix of TC’s “Trigger Finger”) from fellow Lollapalooza performers NewJeans. The crowd went crazy for the song’s instantly recognizable bubblegum pop chorus reimagined with a heavy beat drop. Dust from the field was kicked up as fans moshed to the track.
ARMNHMR closed out their Lollapalooza set with an epic finale. Their appearance at the festival was a positive display of Asian-American excellence and representation on a global stage, and the mix of genres was a positive indicator for wider acceptance of music both stateside and internationally.
TOMORROW X TOGETHER
In contrast to the dry heat and bright sunshine of Lollapalooza’s first two days, Day 3 began with rain and clouds over Chicago. However, the lower temperatures didn’t stop fans of TOMORROW X TOGETHER from gathering at Bud Light Stage in anticipation of the group’s headlining performance as soon as festival doors opened at 11AM. MOAs, as TXT’s fanbase is known, showed up in ponchos and rain boots with lightsticks and photocard holders to match. Some braved the rain, which varied in intensity throughout the day, in just their regular festival outfits, prioritizing fashion over function.
Even though most of the audience was there for TXT, the crowd was engaged and hyped for each performer at Bud Light Stage. PARDYALONE, Tom Odell, Sylvan Esso, and Maggie Rogers all received loud cheers and screams, and fans also joyfully waved their lightsticks to their music. Throughout the day (and occasionally during artists’ sets), Lollapalooza’s camera crew would feature TXT-themed signs and paraphernalia on the jumbotrons, much to the audience’s amusement.
As Maggie Rogers finished her set, the skies finally began to clear and a double rainbow stretched over Grant Park. With a little under an hour until TXT was set to take the stage at 8:30PM, many MOAs took the sight as a sign that the 8-hour wait for the group would be worth it.
In the 30 minutes leading up to the start of TXT’s set, fans were buzzing with excitement and anxiety as the sun began to set. Previews of TXT’s Disney+ documentary, Our Lost Summer (which chronicled their first world tour leading up to their Lollapalooza debut in 2022) were shown on the jumbotron, along with their music videos, to which MOAs sang along loud and proud. Many audience members also distributed handmade freebies to fellow attendees to commemorate the day. Somewhere behind the scenes on the fan-to-idol communication platform Weverse, a MOA asked TXT if they were ready to make history, to which member Taehyun simply replied, “Yes.”
After a ten-minute countdown on the jumbo screens, it was finally time. A full band consisting of a guitarist, drummer, bassist, and keyboardist kicked off with an epic overture. TXT members Soobin, Yeonjun, Taehyun, Beomgyu, and Hueningkai finally walked onstage to perform “0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)” accentuated by beautiful blue and purple background visuals and impressive pyrotechnics. The group kept the fun going with the upbeat pop-rock track “Dear Sputnik,” and all of the energy fans had been saving throughout the day peaked as MOA finally let loose in cheers that echoed across Butler Field.
Taking a moment to introduce themselves, TXT members talked briefly about how they experienced memorable career milestones in Chicago, from their debut showcase in 2019, to their tour stops, and of course, Lollapalooza. Hueningkai remarked that it was an honor for TXT to be back at the festival.
“We have something for everybody – for our fans and for everyone else who is seeing us here tonight for the first time,” Taehyun added, teasing what was to come.
Continuing their set, TXT showcased a slightly darker vibe with a magnetic performance of “Devil By The Window” from their latest EP, The Name Chapter: Temptation. They slowed things down with the tropical-inspired “Tinnitus.” Afterward, the stage lights burned red and orange with a fiery backdrop for a rearranged, theatrical rock version of “Can’t You See Me.” The set crescendoed with a new version of “Good Boy Gone Bad.” The rearrangement featured an instrumental portion where background dancers joined TXT to deliver an intense and dramatic dance breakdown that put their synchronization on display. The breakdown culminated in Beomgyu putting a rose in his mouth, lighting it, and then tossing it behind him to ignite faux flames – a popular stage effect replicated from their recent world tour.
As TXT went backstage for an outfit change, the crew rearranged the stage for the next part while the band delivered an exhilarating musical interlude while the LCD backdrop credited each band member and their role by name. It was a kind touch, especially since live band members don’t often receive recognition on such a large scale – if at all.
The group returned to the stage in looser, punkier outfits, kicking off with the power ballad “Lonely Boy (The tattoo on my ring finger).” The rock and roll energy continued with “Thursday’s Child,” which had the audience jumping and headbanging along with the members. For “Anti-Romantic,” the intense choreography and fiery effects were stripped down in favor of letting TXT’s vocals shine as MOAs waved their lightsticks and hands side-to-side in sync.
Remaining in place, they transitioned into “Farewell, Neverland.” The ACT: SWEET MIRAGE tour saw the group perform the track on a small physical pirate ship; the visual was adapted for the Lollapalooza stage with an animated ship shown rocking on the waves on the LCD backdrop. Next up was “Blue Spring.” TXT taught the audience to sing along to the lyrics, “Flowers, flowers,” and instructed MOAs to wave their lightsticks and flashlights. During the song, some fans were emotional at the sight of a massive sea of lights and the sound of fans’ voices reverberating through Grant Park.
The mood became significantly lighter when TXT performed “No Rules” and the English version of “Cat & Dog” – the latter of which had MOAs barking along to the song at the top of their lungs. In one of the night’s highlights, TXT brought out Coi Leray as a surprise guest to perform their collaboration, “Happy Fools,” mashed up with her hit song, “Players.”
The party-like, joyous mood continued with a fun and summery performance of “Blue Hour” that was as refreshing as the lake breeze cooling down the packed audience. The feel-good track “Wishlist” was next, and allowed the group to be more carefree on stage. Without rigid choreography, the members took the opportunity to trek over to the far ends of the stage to wave at fans. “LO$ER=LOVER,” a fan-favorite, was next on the setlist. The song had a mini-encore of its own as they repeated the “I’m a loser” chorus for a handful of rounds before they moved into the jazz-pop song, “Magic.” The song featured another dance breakdown against a colorful, neon background and sparkler effects.
For the final portion of the set, TXT introduced each member of the dance troupe that supported them on stage. The introductions transitioned seamlessly into “Do It Like That,” TXT’s ‘song-of-the-summer’ collaboration with the Jonas Brothers released in July, and which they were performing live for the first time. The beloved trio, unfortunately, couldn’t join TXT for Lollapalooza due to their ongoing world tour, but Taehyun noted, “There’s always next time.”
After saying earnest thank you’s in their final ment, TXT concluded their set (officially dubbed ‘TXTpalooza’) with a stunning performance of “Sugar Rush Ride,” which has been nominated for the ‘Best K-Pop’ award at the upcoming MTV Video Music Awards. The finale was complemented by a gorgeous fireworks display that left the audience in awe. The turnout of hundreds of thousands of people, combined with international collaborations and accolades, and the subtle Lollapalooza debut of their new ambassadorship with iconic fashion house Dior proved that TXT and K-Pop are here to stay.
DPR LIVE & DPR IAN
Lollapalooza’s Korean lineup came to a head on the fourth and final day of the festival. While the weather wasn’t nearly as bad as the previous day, scattered drizzle and gray skies still left viewing areas at each stage muddy and slippery. Despite the conditions, fans still showed up to Lollapalooza ready to party, and the DREAMers that packed Bacardí Stage for DPR LIVE and DPR IAN’s debuts at the festival were no exception.
Kicking off the performance was DPR ARTIC, who set the mood for the crowd from his DJ table with a few opening beats. With what looked to be every type of stage light imaginable flashing, DPR LIVE ran onstage to ear-splitting screams to perform the explosive track, “LEGACY.” Fans jumped along and energetically shouted, “Ayy!” at every beat. He kept the energy up by transitioning seamlessly into “OUT OF CONTROL.”
“What’s up Lollapalooza?” DPR LIVE greeted the crowd with a few opening words. “All I gotta say is that I am super grateful to be here and also super proud. DREAMers, we’ve come a long way and I can’t wait for y’all to see what’s coming next for us. On that note, I freaking love y’all – and let’s fucking party!”
He delivered on his words with the ultra-hype song, “Laputa.” The crowd danced and jumped around for LIVE’s slick rapping skills and charisma. Next up was “Jasmine,” a fan favorite. “Y’all need to go crazy on this one,” DPR LIVE said when he introduced the song, and DREAMers didn’t disappoint as they screamed the lyrics word-for-word. Knowing that their set was being broadcast not just for fans, but for the world to see, DPR LIVE made full use of his platform.
“If y’all are fucking with this Korean music, I advise you to Google ‘DPR’ up today,” he said, to whoops and cheers. “Me and IAN? We’re only getting started.”
Sadly it was almost the end of DPR LIVE’s portion of the set. When the crowd protested with a chorus of “No’s,” DPR LIVE assured them that the next time they’d be at Lollapalooza, it would be as a headliner. He continued the upbeat energy with “Hula Hoops” and “Martini Blue,” which helped warm up the crowd through the evening’s cooler temperatures before heading offstage.
Next on deck was DPR IAN, whose distinctly moodier vibe made itself known with dimmed stage lighting. Accompanied by a full band, he kicked off his part of the set with the sultry song, “No Blueberries.” DPR LIVE came back to the stage for his rap verse, and to fans’ delight, stayed a little longer to perform “BOOM,” another genre-bending collaborative track between the two. The sensual, jazzy vibe continued as DPR IAN jumped into “So Beautiful,” putting his strong vocals on display.
After taking a water break and jokingly basking in the crowd’s barking sounds and cheers, DPR IAN addressed the audience.
“This is truly, truly a dream,” he said. “It’s truly an honor to be here at Lollapalooza. One can only dream, right? You guys made it happen and you being here truly means a lot.”
Taking off his jacket, IAN went into a passionate performance of “Dope Lovers.” He unexpectedly stepped off the stage and into the security barricade area as far back as it extended into the audience, to which DREAMers went wild. Once he was back onstage, IAN launched into “Calico,” a retro-R&B track. Similarly to his set at Head in the Clouds New York back in May, IAN grabbed his bass for the song’s instrumental conclusion, showing his range as a performer.
After checking in with the audience to make sure everyone was feeling okay, DPR IAN introduced “Nerves,” and encouraged anyone who knew the song to sing along. In a highlight moment from the set, IAN delivered a powerful and heart-wrenching performance of the song complete with a little headbanging, fans waving their phone flashlights and of course, rockstar vocal runs.
Introducing the final song of the set, IAN took a moment to share a message with the audience. “If you haven’t heard this already, I want to use this platform to say it,” he started. “You really matter, okay? You matter to the people around you, you matter to me, but most importantly, ladies and gentlemen, you have to matter to yourself. In these crazy times, we need to respect ourselves. Don’t apologize for who you are.”
Before moving into the highly-anticipated “Ballroom Extravaganza,” IAN dedicated the song to the crowd, to the viewers at home, and to DREAMers. The anthemic song with a message of hope served as an apt and sentimental finale to Lollapalooza weekend.
Though Korean artists across different genres were just a small part of Lollapalooza’s lineup of over 170 artists, they have been a historic addition to the festival. As their popularity continues to grow, among other international stars, music lovers can expect to see the festival evolve to meet the demand. After a weekend of stunning performances, fans will eagerly await to find out what acts Lollapalooza will bring to the Windy City next year.