This past weekend marked the 20th anniversary of Lollapalooza, the music festival that Perry Farrell started back in 1991. Back then, Lollapalooza was a touring festival that went from city to city, playing day-long shows at amphitheaters and other venues across the country -- think Van’s Warped Tour. That version of Lollapalooza ended in 1998, after SFX Entertainment, the promoter, was sold to Clear Channel and then Clear Channel was rolled up into Live Nation. “That wasn’t the atmosphere I started Lollapalooza within,” Farrell said in a recent interview. “My atmosphere was that of individual promoters, people who had their own style, their own ins within the city, interesting locations where they could take us. By 1998, there were no options, so we went dark.” Then, in 2005, Lollapalooza returned. This time, however, it became a three-day festival held in Chicago’s Grant Park. Three days, one city.
I managed to see a couple of shows in the early days of Lollapalooza, but ever since Perry brought it back as a one-day festival in Chicago, I have gone every year. This year marked the seventh straight year I have attended Lollapalooza. Its location in Grant Park is simply beautiful. The park, located on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, is gorgeous. I don’t think many cities in this country have anything nearly as large and beautiful. The festival includes eight stages around the park, and from noon until ten p.m., there is a constant supply of music across the park.
One of my favorite things about Lollapalooza is the variety of music that can be seen and heard at the festival. Many people think of Lollapalooza as an alternative-music festival. Yes, there is a lot of alternative music, but there is so much more than that. This year’s festival featured everything from pop (Christina Perri) to classic rock (the Cars) to hip-hop (Eminem) to DJs (Deadmau5) to neo-soul (Fitz and the Tantrums) to reggae (Damian Marley) to Irish music (Flogging Molly) and, yes, to alternative, with such major bands as Coldplay, Muse, My Morning Jacket and the Foo Fighters.
One stage, Perry’s Stage, is devoed to DJs, and it was packed throughout the festival. Girl Talk headlined that stage on Friday night. Pretty Lights were the headliners on Saturday. And on Sunday, the headliner was Kid Cudi. There is also a stage for the many little kids who attend the festival with their parents. The Kidz Stage is a lot of fun, as major artists come out and play to the young people.
Every time you attend Lollapalooza, you have the opportunity to discover new artists. This year, for example, I discovered the Irish singer Imelda May. The young singer has a very bluesy voice, and her band is very soulful. Another band I discovered was Young the Giant. This California band has a very eclectic sound that incorporates beautiful harmonies with a wide mix of tempos. One of the best sets I saw was by Flogging Molly, the Irish band. And Fitz and the Tantrums, who did a Summer in the City show at the Hall of Fame earlier this summer, turned in a great set.
Happy 20th Anniversary, Lollapalooza! Thanks Perry, for giving us another three days of great music!