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The Beaches, Junior Mesa get heads banging during debut Lollapalooza sets on the festival’s first day

The Lollapalooza Music Festival started Thursday under a hot sun and clear skies.  Created in 1991 as a touring festival, the massive event is now in its 18th year where it is permanently hosted in Chicago’s Grant Park next to Columbia’s campus.

Junior Mesa and The Beaches kicked off the festival’s first day. Both acts played their first Lollapalooza festival, engaging the crowds and sparking festival vibes. 

The Beaches energetically performed at the Bud Light stage at Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park on Thursday, August 3 2023. The band excites the crowd by dancing and pointing at singing fans. (Kaelah Serrano)

The Canadian band Beaches brought riot grrrl-esque energy to the Bud Light stage Thursday afternoon as they started their set with thumping drums and electric riffs. 

The band’s members are lead singer and bass guitarist Jordan Miller, their sister Kylie Miller on guitar, Leandra Earl playing keyboards and guitar and Eliza Enman-McDaniel on drums.

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The crowd was a mix of fans singing every word and festivalgoers just hearing them for the first time, but as the set went on, everybody was dancing. 

“Everyone was there and in the moment;  that felt really, truly awesome,” Kylie Miller said in an interview with the Chronicle. 

Another stacked band, Junior Mesa, from California, took to the Toyota Den stage later in the afternoon to play a set mixed with psychedelic rock and ambient jazz grooves. 

Lead singer Junior Mesa stood alongside his four bandmates: Julian Cullars on bass, Sean Lee on the guitar, Hunter Meelee on the keyboard and Alex Smith on drums.   

Even with a group of five chatty guys, the songwriting still goes smoothly, Mesa said in an interview with the Chronicle. “It’s evolved,” Mesa said. “It started as just me, but the last song we put out was literally all of us just sitting in a room, writing.”

Lee added that they’re constantly creating new melodies. “We all hum a lot and make noises; for us it feels really like home, but I realize when we’re in public it sounds like we’re making bird noises,” he said, followed by a bird call from Smith. 

The Beaches echoed a similar smooth feeling about the songwriting process. 

Reflecting on when they wrote their upcoming album “Blame My Ex,” Jordan Miller said “it was very collaborative, we would come into the studio everyday, sometimes we’d start by listening to bands we like. Other times I would come in with an idea; I was going through a break up at the time.” 

Although The Beaches will leave Chicago to play at a Toronto music festival this weekend, Junior Mesa has a second set early Friday afternoon on the Tito’s stage.

“We open [for other bands] a lot of the time; we’re trying to win people over,” Mesa said. “We’re at a place right now with our set… that if you don’t like the music we’re at least being fun.” 

Lollapalooza’s first day will close out with headliners Karol G and Billie Eilish. On Friday, Columbia-alum band Friday Pilots Club will play, along with dozens of others including Sudan Archives, Beabadoobee and Kendrick Lamar.

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About the Contributors
Ruth Johnson
Ruth Johnson, Former Creative Director
Kaelah Serrano
Kaelah Serrano, Photojournalist
kserrano@columbiachronicle.com   Kaelah Serrano is a junior photojournalism major. She has covered music festivals, campus art exhibitions and metro parades and protests. Serrano joined the Chronicle in January 2023.   Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Addison Annis
Addison Annis, Director of Photography
aannis@columbiachronicle.com   Addison Annis is a junior photojournalism major, minoring in video production. She has covered politics, cultural events and Chicago protests. Annis joined the Chronicle in August 2022.   Hometown: Plymouth, Minn.