Holla Lolla! So, just like I did for Bonnaroo, I’ll be creating playlists and collecting video footage of this past weekend’s Lollapalooza–day by day–for you guys to relive (or discover for the first time.) This was my first Lollapalooza in 4 years, and I noticed a lot had changed since my initial footsteps onto Grant Park back when I was just in high school. So, that inspired me to do a little research and scribe a bit on on the festival’s transformation over the years in the context of music as a whole. Check out my insights below, or skip to the bottom for some music selections made up of acts I got the chance to see, as well as video of Friday’s headliner, The Black Keys, performing “Lonely Boy.”
THE EVOLUTION OF LOLLAPALOOZA
Since its inaugural notes hit the air in 1991, Perry Farrell’s Lollapalooza has had its ups and downs. The festival’s initial success was synonymous with the rise of alternative rock in the early 90s. So, when the alt scene began to lose steam later in the decade, Lolla did too.
But in 2003, Farrell’s festival was staging a comeback. After a lukewarm couple of years, Lollapalooza found a new home in Grant Park, Chicago and heated thangs up with expansive lineups that delivered tunes to casual listeners and rabid aficionados alike.
Today, Lollapalooza is a three-day, sun-soaked (well, most of the time) monster of a festival that hosts nearly 300,000 concertgoers in the heart of the concrete and steel jungle that is Chicago, Illinois. And, it’s only getting bigger. In recent years, the festival has landed on soils as far as Chile, Brazil and most recently, Israel.
I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that Lolla is a pretty big deal. Culturally, it represents a musical hotbed where up-and-comers and seasoned veterans can both share the spotlight (think Chief Keef and Black Sabbath.) And, I think in a lot of ways, big ticket music fests like Lollapalooza are great temperature readers for where music is at as a whole.
So, what is Lollapalooza saying about that “whole” of music today? The answer can be found at Perry’s Tent. That is, the honored stage which is named after the festival’s founder and also happens to be the lone platform at Lollapalooza completely dedicated to electronic dance music.
You see, Perry’s wasn’t always a stage. In 2008, when it first emerged, Perry’s Tent was literally a tent, and a relatively small one at that. Jump around to present time, and Perry’s has blown off the roof, laced the stage with sizzling LED lights and practically doubled its viewing capacity.
Yeah, I know. It’s not news that EDM’s popularity is booming in America. But, my real point is that big, institutionalized music festivals like Lollapalooza are an instrumental part of why dance music is becoming more and more mainstream (just like it helped the growth of alternative music in the 90s.)
The transformation of Perry’s Tent—and the evolution of Lollapalooza in general—is ironic in many ways. Perry Farrel’s Lollapalooza of the 90s stood for all things indie—not mainstream. Yet today, Lolla represents a diverse palate of music, from relaxing indie folk to heart-throbbing dubstep.
A lot of people might tell you that Farrel compromised Lollapalooza’s former integrity by opening the flood gates to mainstream music, but you know what? I say it’s a beautiful thing. Where else can you mosh to At The Drive-In, chill out to Florence and the Machine and get your rageface on to Bassnectar?
Not at Lollapalooza 1991.
Porter Robinson – Language
Nero – Promises
Bassnectar – Vava Voom (ft. Lupe Fiasco) (Vinyl Version)
The Black Keys – Lonely Boy (Live)