GRANT PARK — Chicago rapper Vic Mensa, flanked by a stage full of dancers dressed as riot police, served up a set with many a strong message at Lollapalooza Saturday night.
Mensa, currently on tour, headlined the Pepsi stage at the massive music festival in Grant Park this weekend. He debuted a new stage show that was created for his Lollapalooza performance, which included live dancers dressed as riot police that interacted with him throughout the evening.
The dancers swarmed and held down Mensa during part of "16 Shots," the second track of the night and one he wrote in response to the death of Laquan McDonald, who was killed after being shot 16 times by Chicago Officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014.
During the end of the song, the sound of gunshots rang out as Mensa fell, his body splayed out onstage while a somber spoken monologue read out a detailed report of McDonald's death.
The powerful performance set a serious tone for Mensa's set from the start, which tackled topics like the Flint Michigan water crisis with his track "Shades of Blue" and wrapped up with "There's Alot Going On," the first single off of his recent EP of the same name that is more an emotional confession than a simple song.
Even though the Hyde Park native tackled serious topics, Mensa kept the energy up, especially with a mock wedding during "Free Love" his most recent single he released to show support of the LGBTQ community.
Chicago drag performer Lucy Stoole "wed" two of the male dancers dressed in riot gear before they each lifted their shield and shared a passionate kiss, the crowd erupting with a wave of screams, applause and support.
@vincent.martell and @jotographic of VAM made history last night at @vicmensa's closing set at @lollapalooza - very proud to swap saliva and get married by @tyislucystoole. All in the name of free love and art. Congrats to our close collaborator @freerosie for killing the concept and inviting us onto this project. 💥💥💥💥💥#freelove #art #artists #performances #performanceart #vicmensa #lucystoole #chicagoart #community #lollapalooza #lollapalooza2016 #queer #lgbtq #cpd
Mensa's set was peppered with other fan favorites such as "Danger" and "U Mad," that kept the crowd jumping and bouncing until the end.
He also performed a brand new song for the first time, brought out fellow Chicago rapper Joey Purp and called out Lollapalooza for not being "accessible for people where I'm from," shouting out the South and West Side of the city as he recalled when he almost died after getting electrocuted while scaling a fence trying to enter Lollapalooza when he was younger because he couldn't afford to purchase a ticket to the fest.
Mensa's set was honest, emotional and represented a social awareness not typically seen onstage at Lollapalooza since the less commercial version of the festival in the '90s.
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