Lollapalooza /ˌlɒləpəˈluːzə/ is an annual music festival featuring popular alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock, hip hop, and electronic music bands and artists, dance and comedy performances, and craft booths. It has also provided a platform for non-profit and political groups and various visual artists.
Conceived and created in 1991 by Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for his band, Lollapalooza ran annually until 1997, and was revived in 2003. From its inception through 1997 and its revival in 2003, the festival toured North America. In 2004, the festival organizers decided to expand the dates to two days per city, but poor ticket sales forced the 2004 tour to be canceled.
In 2005, Farrell and the William Morris Agency partnered with Austin, Texas–based company Capital Sports Entertainment (now C3 Presents) and retooled it into its current format as a weekend destination festival in Grant Park, Chicago. In 2014, Live Nation Entertainment bought a controlling interest in C3 Presents.
In 2010 it was announced that Lollapalooza would debut outside the United States, with a branch of the festival staged in Chile's capital Santiago on April 2–3, 2011 where they partnered up with Santiago-based company Lotus. In 2011, the company Geo Events confirmed the Brazilian version of the event, which was held at the Jockey Club in São Paulo on 7 and 8 April 2012. In September 2013, Buenos Aires was selected as the third Lollapalooza in South America, starting on April 2014, and in November 2014, the first European Lollapalooza was announced, which was held at the former Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. In 2014, Perry handpicked and debuted a new artist to emerge as the face of the festival. The artist, collectively known as The Future Bones, or Juan Marco, rebranded the festival with funky characters and a colorful palette, inherently representing the culture of the music and festival-goers today.
The music festival hosts more than 160,000 people over a two or three day period. Lollapalooza has featured a diverse range of bands and artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West, Jane's Addiction, Lana Del Rey, Wiz Khalifa, The Smashing Pumpkins, Muse, Eminem, MGMT, Coldplay, Stone Temple Pilots, Depeche Mode, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ministry, Pearl Jam, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Atlas Genius, Dev, Rollins Band, Kid Cudi, Imagine Dragons, Babes in Toyland, Beastie Boys, Kings of Leon, Foster The People, The Cure, Of Monsters and Men, Thirty Seconds to Mars, The Killers, The National, Living Colour, Rage Against the Machine, We the Kings, Paramore, Green Day, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Arcade Fire, Franz Ferdinand, X Japan, Audioslave, Soundgarden, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Cage the Elephant, Alice in Chains, Björk, Lorde, Tool, The Black Keys, deadmau5, Hole, Body Count, Ice-T, Queens of the Stone Age, Cupcakke, The Drums, The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Calvin Harris, Thenewno2, Fishbone, Lady Gaga, Lucius, Betty Who, Butthole Surfers, Grouplove, Marina And The Diamonds, Haley Reinhart, Scramble Campbell, Zara Larsson, and Radiohead.
Bud Light Stage during the 2015 festival in Chicago
|Years active||1991–1997, 2003, 2005–present|
|Inaugurated||July 18, 1991|
The word—sometimes alternatively spelled and pronounced as lollapalootza or lalapaloosa—or "lallapaloosa" (P.G. Wodehouse, "Heart of a Goof") dates from a late 19th-/early 20th-century American idiomatic phrase meaning "an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event; an exceptional example or instance." Its earliest known use was in 1896. In time the term also came to refer to a large lollipop. Farrell, searching for a name for his festival, liked the euphonious quality of the by-then-antiquated term upon hearing it in a Three Stooges short film. Paying homage to the term's double meaning, a character in the festival's original logo holds one of the lollipops.
The word has also caused a slang suffix to appear in event-planning circles as well as in news and opinion shows that is used synonymously with other suffixes like "a-go-go", "o-rama", etc. The suffix "(a)palooza" is often used to imply (often in hyperbolic language) that an entire event or crowd was made over that term, e.g.: "Parks"-apalooza, "Nipple"-palooza, etc.
Inspired by events such as Britain's Reading Festival – which Lollapalooza cofounder Perry Farrell had been due to play in 1990  – Farrell, Ted Gardner, Don Muller, and Marc Geiger conceived the festival in 1990 as a farewell for Farrell's band Jane's Addiction.
Unlike previous festivals such as Woodstock, A Gathering of the Tribes (also an influence on Lollapalooza) and the US Festival, which were one-time events held at single venues, Lollapalooza toured across the United States and Canada.
The inaugural 1991 lineup was made up of artists from alternative rock (such as Siouxsie and the Banshees), industrial music (such as Nine Inch Nails) and rap (Ice-T rapped and used the platform to launch Body Count, his heavy metal band).
Another key concept was the inclusion of nonmusical features. Performers such as the Jim Rose Circus Side Show, an alternative freak show, and the Shaolin monks stretched the boundaries of rock culture. There was a tent for display of art pieces, virtual reality games, and information tables for political and environmental non-profit groups, promoting counter-culture and political awareness. "Basically, I'm bored," Farrell said at the time. "I just want to see things that are unexpected and slightly bizarre. The way Barnum & Bailey perceived putting on a show… well, they had a different angle."
It was at Lollapalooza where Farrell coined the term "Alternative Nation". The explosion of alternative rock in the early 1990s propelled Lollapalooza forward; the 1992 and 1993 festivals leaned heavily on grunge and alternative acts, and usually featured an additional rap artist. Punk rock standbys like mosh pits and crowd surfing became part of the canon of the concerts. These years saw great increases in the participatory nature of the event with the inclusion of booths for open-microphone readings and oratory, television-smashing pits and tattooing and piercing parlors. After 1991, the festival included a second stage (and, in 1996, a third stage) for up-and-coming bands or local acts. Attendee complaints of the festival included high ticket prices as well as the high cost for food and water at the shows. The festival played at the Alpine Valley festival in East Troy, Wisconsin on August 29, 1992, and also at World Music Theater in Tinley Park, IL (near Chicago), where concertgoers ripped up chunks of sod and grass and threw them at each other and at the bands, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in damages to the venue.
Grunge band Nirvana was scheduled to headline at the festival in 1994, but the band officially dropped out of the festival on April 7, 1994. Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's body was discovered in Seattle the next day. Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, made guest appearances at several shows, including the Philadelphia show at FDR Park (usually taking time given to her by The Smashing Pumpkins vocalist/guitarist Billy Corgan), speaking to the crowds about the loss, then singing a minimum of two songs. Farrell worked with rock poster artist Jim Evans (T.A.Z.) to create a series of posters and the complete graphic decoration for the 1994 event, including two 70 foot tall Buddha statues that flanked the main stage.
In 1996, Farrell, who had been the soul of the festival, decided to focus his energy to produce his new festival project, ENIT, and did not participate in producing Lollapalooza. Many fans saw the addition of Metallica in 1996 as contrary to the festival's prior practice of featuring "non-mainstream" artists, and described the crowds attracted by Metallica as being singularly focused on the headliner without respect for the other performing artists. Moreover, festival cofounder Farrell felt that Metallica's macho image violated his peaceful vision for the festival, for alternative culture of the early 1990s was generally against macho behavior. Farrell quit the tour in protest.
Responding to the controversial Metallica tour, Lollapalooza made efforts to revive its relevance to audiences. The festival booked eclectic acts such as country superstar Waylon Jennings in 1996, and emphasized heavily electronica groups such as The Orb and The Prodigy in 1997. 1997, however, would prove to be the final tour from the initial series of Lollapalooza tours. The festival failed to find a suitable headliner in 1998, and therefore announced Lollapalooza's cancellation. The cancellation served as a signifier of alternative rock's declining popularity. In light of the festival's troubles that year, Spin said, "Lollapalooza is as comatose as alternative rock right now."
Lady Gaga performed first at the festival in 2007, before gaining international fame. (left) She returned three years later in 2010 with the Semi Precious Weapons as an internationally known singer. (right)
In 2003, Farrell reconvened Jane's Addiction and scheduled a new Lollapalooza tour. The festival schedule included venues in 30 cities through July and August. The 2003 tour achieved only marginal success with many fans staying away, presumably because of high ticket prices. Another tour scheduled for 2004 was to consist of a two-day festival taking place in each city. It was cancelled in June due to weak ticket sales across the country. Farrell partnered with Capital Sports & Entertainment (now C3 Presents), which co-owns and produces the Austin City Limits Music Festival, to produce Lollapalooza. CSE, Farrell and the William Morris Agency—along with Charles Attal Presents—resurrected Lollapalooza as a two-day destination festival in 2005 in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois, with an even greater variety of performers (70 acts on five stages) than that of the touring festival. The festival was generally successful, attracting over 65,000 attendees, despite a 104 degree Fahrenheit Sunday (40 degrees Celsius) heat wave (two people were hospitalized for heat related illness).
It returned to Chicago on August 4–6, 2006. On October 25, 2006, the Chicago Park District and Capital Sports & Entertainment agreed to a five-year, $5 million deal, keeping Lollapalooza at Grant Park in Chicago until 2011. Lollapalooza ran August 3–5 in 2007, August 1–3 in 2008, August 7–9 in 2009, August 6–8 in 2010, August 5–7 in 2011, August 3–5 in 2012, August 2–4 in 2013 and August 1–3 in 2014. After a successful 2008 festival, another deal was signed to keep Lollapalooza in Chicago through 2018, guaranteeing the city $13 million.
In December 2015, it was announced that Lollapalooza 2016 would be four days long, July 28 to July 31, to celebrate the event's 25th anniversary.
In 2017, the festival will kick off on the 3rd of August celebrating its 26th year of existence.
Tickets to the biggest Lollapalooza edition, in Chicago, are usually sold out extremely quickly. In the 2016 Lollapalooza, the four-day general passes sold out in about one day after they started the sale. The one-day passes sold even more quickly: they were gone less than three hours after organizers revealed the lineup for the four-day music festival. Because of this phenomenon, people who can not buy the passes try to get them through alternatives sources such as Craigslist and StubHub. This is a common practice, although the prices tend to be significantly higher on these websites. In 2018, the festival experienced unusually slower sales so they released the lineup about 8 hours earlier.
In its earliest editions, the official passes used to cost $31.50. However, with its growth and prominent relevance on the music scenario, Lollapalooza passes' prices have been increasing substantially over the years. Comparing the weekend passes for Lollapalooza 2016, which cost $335, not including taxes and fees, with the ones for Lollapalooza 2015, which cost $275, the increase was over than 20%. The price from 2015 to 2018 has remained the same without any increases.
In 2010, it was announced that Lollapalooza would debut in South America, with a branch of the festival staged in Chile's capital Santiago on April 2–3, 2011. The Lollapalooza Chile line up included Jane's Addiction, Thirty Seconds to Mars, The National, Manny and Gil The Latin, The Drums, The Killers, Los Bunkers, Ana Tijoux, Javiera Mena, Fatboy Slim, Deftones, Los Plumabits, Cypress Hill, 311, The Flaming Lips and many others. The eighth edition in Chile was held on 16–18 March 2018, with Pearl Jam, Lana Del Rey, The Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers and LCD Soundsystem as headliners.
A Brazilian version of the event was confirmed in 2011, and had its inaugural edition at the Jockey Club in São Paulo on April 7 and 8, 2012. In the following year, Lollapalooza was again held at Jockey Club during Holy Week, this time expanding to three days that filled the whole Paschal Triduum – March 29–31, 2013. The third edition was moved to the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo's borough of Interlagos, happening on April 5 and 6, 2014. Interlagos remained the festival's home for the following editions, on March 28–29, 2015, March 12–13, 2016.,March 25–26, 2017, and March 23-24-25, 2018
On September 10, 2013, it was announced that the following year the festival will also be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina; thus expanding the South American branch after the festivals in Santiago and São Paulo.
On November 4, 2014, it was announced that the very first Lollapalooza Festival will be held in Europe, in the German capital of Berlin. It is scheduled for September 12–13, 2015, the proposed location is the historical airport ground of Berlin-Tempelhof. In true Lollapalooza fashion, this urban location serves to incorporate regional partners in presenting international events. In the official press release, festival founder Perry Farrell stated that, "Berlin's energy, vibrant art, fashion and music scenes are a mirror reflection of what Lollapalooza is all about and I can’t wait to share in this cultural exchange". Lollapalooza Germany was produced by the Lollapalooza U.S. team in addition to Melt! Booking and Festival Republic who have helped run both Reading and Leeds festival in England. The 2016 edition of the festival took place in the Treptower Park in Berlin, 10–11 September. It drew 70,000 visitors each day.
At change.org an on-line petition against the festival in the Treptower Park gathered over 6400 supporters. Citizens from the area have created working groups to stop the festival taking place in the Treptower Park. There has been little communication with local inhabitants from either festival organizers or local government. People living directly next to the event location have received an invitation to move to a nearby hotel for the duration of the festival.
On October 12, 2016, Lollapalooza announced that they would be hosting a festival in Paris, France. The inaugural edition of this festival will be taking place at the city's Longchamp Racecourse grounds on July 22–23, 2017. The lineup for Lollapalooza Paris 2017 was announced on January 17, 2017 and includes a lineup featuring Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Weeknd as headliners. Following that, the lineup includes the likes of Imagine Dragons, Lana Del Rey, DJ Snake, London Grammar, Alt-J, The Roots, Marshmello, Liam Gallagher, Martin Solveig, Skepta, Glass Animals, Milky Chance, Don Diablo, Oliver Heldens, Crystal Fighters, Jauz, Alan Walker, and many more.
Chicago's Grant Park was the venue for the 13th edition of Lollapalooza from August 3–6, 2017. Among the many entertainers performing during the 4-day festival, there was a small theater troupe which presented all of the over 100 poems found in Charles Baudelaire's "Les Fleurs du Mal." Fifty artists from around the world joined Theater Oobleck to create "Baudelaire In A Box."
On August 7, 2012, Perry Farrell announced that Lollapalooza will be debuting in Tel Aviv, Israel. Farrell described Israel as an "international music community that listens to everything we all listen to, but the artists weren’t traveling there so it was an opportunity." The event was scheduled for August 20–22, 2013 in Hayarkon Park, the city's largest urban park. However, the event has been postponed to an unknown date. While there was no definitive reasoning for the cancellation of the Israel date, various news sources report there are often financial challenges that attribute to producing a large-scale show with international artists within the political situation in the Mideast.
Recording engineer, guitarist, and journalist Steve Albini has criticized Lollapalooza for its corporatization of popularized "alternative" music. In a 1993 interview, Albini commented:
Lollapalooza is the worst example of corporate encroachment into what is supposed to be the underground. It is just a large scale marketing of bands that pretend to be alternative but are in reality just another facet of the mass cultural exploitation scheme. I have no appreciation or affection for those bands and I have no interest in that whole circle. If Lollapalooza had Jesus Lizard and the Melvins and Fugazi and Slint then you could make a case that it was actually people on the vanguard of music. What it really is the most popular bands on MTV that are not heavy metal.
In April 2010, it was reported that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan had launched an antitrust investigation into the festival for imposing radius clauses on acts, contractually stipulating that they could not perform in cities within 300 miles of Chicago—including cities as far as Detroit, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee—for up to six months prior, and three months after Lollapalooza.