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Although it’s known as one of the best annual musical festivals in the United States, Lollapalooza has seen a bit of a wane in its popularity over the last few years. That being said, it’s still a great place if you want to hear alternative rock, heavy metal, hip-hop, punk and other musical genres. If you like dance and comedy performances as well, and enjoy getting your fill of political groups and nonprofit organizations and their messages, Lollapalooza is definitely the festival that you want to attend in 2014.
Lollapalooza was started by Perry Farrell, the singer for Jane’s Addiction, in 1991 as a tour to say farewell to their fans. It ended up becoming an annual event until 1997, when it took a few years’ break. In 2003 it was revived and, since then, the festival has been touring North America.
In 2004 unfortunately, poor ticket sales force the tour to be canceled but, in 2005, Farrell partnered with Capital Sports Entertainment (now C3 Presents) out of Austin, Texas as well as the William Morris Agency and moved the location to Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois.
In 2010 they decided to take Lollapalooza overseas and staged it in the capital of Chile, Santiago, in April 2011. That same year a company from Brazil called GEO Events announced that they were going to have their own version of the festival in their country and, in April 2012, it was held at the Jockey Club in São Paulo, Brazil.
Unlike most festivals in the United States, Lollapalooza is a touring festival that isn’t held in a single event location but travels across the US as well as Canada. Approximately 160,000 people usually attend the event, which is spread out over two and sometimes three days.
Lollapalooza’s inaugural lineup included a wide variety of groups and singers, mostly along the post-punk genre. There was Nine Inch Nails and rapper Ice –T as well as Siouxsie and the Banshees as far as bigger groups of the day were concerned but, as the festival was looking towards nonmusical features as well, the Jim Rose Circus Side Show was also there with their particular brand of freakiness, as well as, surprisingly, a group of Shaolin monks.
They also had various displays of art pieces, virtual reality games, political and environmental nonprofit groups and other countercultural awareness groups in tents spread out all over the festival field.
One thing that helped make Lollapalooza a big time event was that, at the time it started, alternative rock was exploding all over the United States. It was at the festival that the term “alternative nation” was actually coined. In the early years Lollapalooza leaned heavily on alternative acts and grunge bands as well as rap artists and had the usual accoutrements of crowd surfing and mosh pits which, in time, became standard at most festivals and concerts.
Lollapalooza also brought a new atmosphere of inclusion to festivals with their open mic readings, tattooing and piercing parlors and even a “television smashing” pit where, not surprisingly, people were able to take bats and other weapons to smash up TVs. Although it started with only one stage, a second was added after the first festival and then, in 1996, a third.
Unfortunately Lollapalooza was almost killed by bad press as, although it was supposed to be an “alternative” festival, it started to lean heavily on corporate funding after a few years. In fact, in 1993 a story by journalist Steve Albini said that “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”.
While Mr. Albini might not have been very fond of the festival back then, is still around and this year’s Lollapalooza looks to be one of the best yet.