Billie Eilish headlines first night of Lollapalooza with all-out marathon set

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After speculation on whether and when he might come by, Mayor Brandon Johnson finally made his debut at Lollapalooza 2023, introducing Thursday night’s headliner Billie Eilish while heralding the event as the “greatest festival in the greatest city,” and adding, “Chicago was made for this. We love, support and stand with each other.”

The crowd gathered for the “bad guy” singer certainly supported his case, drawing together people of all walks for one of the most packed assemblies ever at the T-Mobile Stage. “I can’t see any place where there aren’t people!” Eilish herself exclaimed while thanking everyone for continuing to show up for her, recalling the last time she played the fest five years ago.

The 21-year-old singer has been having a real moment the past few years, ever since her debut album came out in 2019 while she was still a teen. In the past few weeks, she’s been firmly in the headlines again — for her tearjerker song “What Was I Made For?” that appears in the blockbuster “Barbie” movie and for her electrified megahit “bad guy” that was just certified Diamond this week. Eilish added both to her set, marking the live debut of the “Barbie” song, and with both tracks providing great examples of her versatile range, from pensive and sad to total body shakers.

The 75-minute set was an all-out marathon set, with Eilish fitting in 24 total numbers, including a powerful drum circle start to “bury a friend,” the early hit “ocean eyes” and a three-part acoustic block that featured Eilish seated alongside her go-to collaborator and talented producer, her brother Finneas O’Connell. Every time he came down from his perch upstage (where he was joined by excellent drummer Andrew Marshall), O’Connell got just as much of a fan reaction as his sibling, perhaps because Eilish always sweetly gushes about him every show. This time around, she also confirmed the two are working on new material, hopefully meaning a new album — her first since 2021’s “Happier Than Ever” — is imminent.

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Like Joy Oladokun earlier in the day, Eilish was decked out in Chicago Bulls gear — for her, a 23 jersey, plus some new red and black hair to match. “When I died my roots green four years ago,” she said of her once iconic hairstyle, “I always intended to have red roots … you’re the first to see it.”

Towards the end of her allotted time, Eilish also made note of the groundbreaking solar energy she used to help power her set, part of the Music Decarbonization Project she co-founded with environmental nonprofit REVERB, saying to her largely next-gen crowd, “We have to do a much better job of protecting our planet.”