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Lollapalooza kicks off Day 1 with beats from CAROLA, ballads from Matt Maltese

Fresh into a new 10-year contract, Lollapalooza 2023 kicked off Thursday with renewed purpose going into its next decade.

Although much of the setup is the same as in years past, this year brings a new focus on solar-powered energy (highlighted by Billie Eilish partnering with environmental nonprofit REVERB to reduce carbon emissions for her headline set) as well as more international acts rounding out the 170-artist lineup performing across eight stages.

Check back as the Sun-Times reviews sets from Eilish and Karol G, the first Latina to headline the festival.

Here are the highlights of Day 1 so far:

CAROLA: Dressed in a custom Dolce&Gabbana suit, CAROLA rocked the Perry’s Stage with her lively beats. The DJ mixed tons of popular electronic dance music songs, like Calvin Harris’ “Feel So Close” and Daft Punk’s “One More Time.” Her set was definitely geared toward a more American audience — none of the funky Brazilian vibes that usually distinguish her sound made their way to the setlist. When CAROLA makes her way back onstage for her 8 p.m. set on Thursday, maybe she’ll infuse some of those favela funk vibes into her music now that fans know a little bit about her. — Ambar Colon

Carola performs on day one of Lollapalooza in Grant Park.

Bad Neighbors: Thursday started with Rage and Khaos — better known as the two members of the duo Bad Neighbors, who came ready to make some noise with their heavy blend of trap music, hip-hop, punk rock and metal that, from the first notes, drowned out the thumping of the early EDM acts on Perry’s Stage. The duo spent most of the time in the crowd, among a modest throng of people, acting like hype men on steroids on songs like “Bad Romance.” While their look alone grabs attention — full of face tattoos and tinges of horror-core — it’s their sound that is a unique marker, best described as made for Gen Z but sampling from Gen X. — Selena Fragassi

Bad Neighbors performs on the Coinbase stage on Thursday afternoon.

Bad Neighbors performs on the Coinbase stage on Thursday afternoon.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Matt Maltese: When British crooner Matt Maltese took the stage on Thursday afternoon, it would’ve been easy to have mistaken him for Paul McCartney. Not only did his mop top hair provide a throwback visage but his Beatles-que harmonies on early song “You Deserve An Oscar” also were a dead ringer for the other UK greats. Yet Maltese is so much more than a “Yesterday” redux. His billowing songs, full of emotional depth, sardonic wit and dark imagination are some of the best existential songwriting this side of the millennium. It’s the stuff that’s just begging for the right placements in a Wes Anderson flick or Netflix teenage lore, but for now TikTok will do. — Selena Fragassi

Matt Maltese performs on the T-Mobile stage during day one of Lollapalooza.

Matt Maltese performs on the T-Mobile stage during day one of Lollapalooza.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Lesly Reynaga: Lesly Reynaga kicked off the first day of Lollapalooza in Grant Park with a noon set on the Bacardi stage, playing some songs off her latest album, “Valerosa,” for a small crowd that gathered at the front of the stage. Her music is a beautiful blend of regional Mexican and Latin and American pop music, and she borrows elements from each genre to create a sound that is uniquely her own. She sings in ballads about all of the things she experiences in life: being a part of a long line of strong women, being a mom, existing at the intersection of the U.S.-Mexico border. — Ambar Colon

Lesly Reynaga performs on the Bacardi stage during day one of Lollapalooza.

Lesly Reynaga performs on the Bacardi stage during day one of Lollapalooza.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

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