About This Festival
Lollapalooza was the brainchild of musician Perry Farrell, the lead singer of Jane’s Addiction. Initially conceived as a farewell tour for his band, Lollapalooza instead captured the zeitgeist and became an enormously successful platform for dozens of artists. In fact, Farrell coined the term "Alternative Nation" to describe the kind of vibe that dominated the early years—a mash-up of grunge, alternative rock, rap and punk, inspiring audience members to crowd surf and slam into each other in mosh pits. Rejecting the traditional touring model and schedule by bringing together multiple acts to tour multiple cities fostered a real sense of community and like-minded people: those early years often featured chanting Tibetan monks, a circus sideshow, local artists, and non-profit consciousness-raising groups such as Greenpeace, Rock the Vote, and Amnesty International.
During that first summer in 1991, Lollapalooza’s mainstage hosted the likes of Jane’s Addiction, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Living Colour, Nine Inch Nails, Fishbone, Ice-T & the Body Count, the Butthole Surfers, Henry Rollins Band and Violent Femmes—all of these were artists that were not part of the mainstream music scene. In the 1990s, until it went on hiatus, Lollapalooza was a touring behemoth, with dozens of bands appearing in dozens of cities across the United States and Canada during the hot summer months. It helped spawn and grow the careers of the aforementioned artists and many others including artists such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, the Beastie Boys and many others. As the festival progressed through the 1990s, second and third stages were added, providing more music for fans and boosting exposure for up and coming acts. By 1998, it had run out of steam, however, and that year’s festival was canceled after organizers couldn’t find headliners.
In 2003, Farrell reunited Jane’s Addiction and scheduled it in 30 cities across the United States; in 2004, a similar approach was taken, to middling success. Farrell partnered with the music production company C3, which also produces the event Austin City Limits. For 2005, it was reimagined as a two-day destination festival, with Grant Park, Chicago, to host. It has been held every subsequent August in Chicago, where it will stay until 2018. Last year’s event showcased a broad spectrum of contemporary music, bringing back artists from the festival’s heyday such as Nine Inch Nails, the Cure, and New Order. The lineup also included the ubiquitous Mumford & Sons to the Postal Service (which disbanded shortly thereafter) and indie rock artists such as Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend. Attendance clocked in at around 300,000 over the course of three days. You can see the impact of Lollapalooza with festivals such as Bonnaroo, Pitchfork, and Coachella, which learned from the successes and missteps of Lollapalooza, but likely wouldn’t exist without its pioneering ways.
Lollapaloozas Around the World
This multi-act concert has been exported around the world to South America with great success. In 2014, it will appear in Chile for the fourth time (March 29-30, O’Higgins Park, Santiago), with more than 65 acts across five stages. Brazil will host its third iteration (April 5-6), with more than 50 acts on five stages, held at the Interlagos Race Track in São Paolo. Finally, Argentina hosts its inaugural Lollapalooza (April 1-2, Hipodromo de San Isidro, Buenos Aires), also with over 50 acts on five stages. The lineups include various permutations of Nine Inch Nails, Arcade Fire, Soundgarden, Vampire Weekend, Imagine Dragons, Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pixies and Axwell—and more.
Consciousness-Raising and Commerce
In the early days, Lollapalooza garnered comparisons to Woodstock for its community-building, countercultural vibe. You would likely find booths offering you the opportunity to "kill your television" by smashing one, shave your head, get a tattoo, or grab an open mic for an impromptu performance. Naturally, Lollapalooza’s grown and times have changed: it now comes with its own farmers’ market, an area dedicated to kids called Kidzapalooza, and Chow Town—an open-air food court with Chicago’s best festival food on display. Its progressive roots are still intact; these days that means running a carbon-neutral event, setting up free water bottle refilling stations, and creating a dedicated space for artists, clothing designers, jewelry makers, small-scale food purveyors and more at the marketplace they call Green Street. And it still makes space for spreading good vibes with Lolla Cares, with tents set up for Oxfam, One and Rock the Vote, among others.