Kid Cudi moving the crowd at Lollapalooza 2011 Joshua Hanford/Red Bull Media House North America, Inc.

Musical diversity was the main theme on the closing night of Lollapalooza 2011, giving the record-breaking crowd a proper send-off. The Foo Fighters brought out their hard-hitting fan favorites, electronic artist Deadmau5 glitched out on the Lolla main stage and the Cold War Kids treated the indie faction with whiskey-drenched tunes. But it was Kid Cudi who united the thousands of soaking wet, mud-caked youth with a career spanning set atop Perry’s Stage.

Hours before Kid Cudi’s festival closing set, ominous clouds hovered over Grant Park. Picture your favorite scene from “Twister” and you’ll get a feel for it. People piled on the ponchos and prayed to the skies for the rain to hold off. People were soaked for more than two hours. It delayed the Artic Monkeys set and turned the media into cowering cameramen seeking cover where they could.

Early Days of Lollapalooza

The Kid from Cleveland pulled up in a tinted-out black Escalade moments before his set. By the time the backing band roared into “REVOFEV,” off of last year’s “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager,” it was a full-blown flashback to the early days of Lollapalooza (although we don’t think people were as concerned with dropping their iPhone in their mud back in ’92).

The whoa-heavy chorus had Kid Cudi attempting to clear out the storm with his blend of hip-hop and pop-oriented hits. Thousands in the crowd belted back. Mud was flung in every direction. An impromptu mud man (and girl) rave was in full effect. Attempts to avoid the knee-high puddles of water were made in vain. By Cudi’s second song, “Scott Mescudi vs. the World” off the same album, handfuls of sandals stuck out of the mud like makeshift tombstones.

Soon, Kid Cudi was amping up the crowd even more. “What the fuck is up, Chicago?” asked the Lollapalooza veteran. “You’ve been waiting for me? I’ve been waiting for you, too.

null Joshua Hanford/Red Bull Media House North America, Inc.

For the remainder of the set, Kid Cudi and his band plowed through their set list, drawing evenly from his most recent album as well as his breakthrough debut “Man on the Moon: End of Day.” The multi-talented MC even drew from his 2008 mixtape, “A Kid Named Cudi” (if you’ve somehow managed to miss that one, you can download it right here). Throughout the set, Cudi was rarely without his audience choir as thousands belted out the lyrics with him. Anyone hoping to hear hit single “Day ‘N Nite” would’ve been sorely disappointed as Cudi and his crew brushed over the number, presenting it as a brash, bass bumping 45-second interlude.  

Soon enough, Kid Cudi was off stage and back in the Escalade. More than 90,000 attendees stormed the streets of downtown Chicago to battle for taxicabs. The distorted guitars of the Foo Fighters and Cold War Kids had blown some away. Others were blinded by the laser light shows and pummeled with the rattling bass of Deadmau5 and Kid Cudi. But all held one thing in common -- a general love for getting sloppy while listening to music they love -- as they walked off to their hotel rooms to clog shower drains and cause plumbing problems for days to come.

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