Ticket sales moved briskly for the 25th anniversary of Lollapalooza in Chicago as four-day passes going for $335 and single day tickets going for $120 sold out in one day. “Lolla” as it is known among festival goers, expanded to four days of music this year in celebration of its silver anniversary. Perry Farrell’s (Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros’ front man) Lollapalooza has graduated from a travelling festival circuit from 1991-1997 that featured (mostly) the same bands touring to a town near you to a destination festival in 2005 in Chicago.
In 2011 the festival expanded internationally to South America, where it continues to host a spate of events – one each in Argentina, Brazil and Columbia, a debut country in 2016. While the original iteration of the festival relied heavily on an alternative vibe, anti-corporate sentiment (celebrating the 99% before the movement called it that), with a dash of hippie feel-good, the festival now rests somewhere between Austin City Limits Music Festival and the Indio, Calif.-Based Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Last year, the Chicago festival hosted more than 100,000 music fans each day. Headliners this year feature LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead, J Cole and the Red Hot Chili Peppers who played Lolla way back in 1992.
One of the differentiating factors of Lolla from other festivals are the VIP and Platinum experiences. No, you don’t have to be Jay-Z or in his entourage to feel the love; just pony up for these tickets and get access to elevated stages to watch the show, indoor facilities with free food and drinks, and mini-spa treatments. Platinum tickets receive these amenities plus an on-site concierge, a golf cart to shuttle you between stages and access to artist lounges and platinum lounges. The festival also has negotiated hotel packages available close enough to walk to and from with some rooms under $200 still available.
Much has been written about the radius clauses that have prevented bands from playing other venues within 200-300 miles of Chicago for months before or after the festival, but fans of individual bands still have the opportunity to see their faves at official after-shows announced on May 31 with tickets available June 1. No longer do you have to get lucky by being at the right club at the right time.
Past festivals have had notable moments like sod throwing in the mud pit in West Virginia in 1995 that drove Pavement off the stage, torrential downpours and 104°F heat in Chicago in 2005 (it was hot). Musical highlights include Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder swinging from the rafters in Wisconsin, Kanye’s headlining show back at home in Chicago in 2008, Lady Gaga playing nearly naked on a small stage in 2007, when no one knew who she was, The Ramones playing one of their last shows in 1996, and the energy of upstart band Arcade Fire in 2005 who returned to headline in 2010. In 2007, My Morning Jacket played with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and in 2008, hearing Wilco play in their backyard of Chicago with the skyline in the background as they sang “Tall buildings shake” from Jesus etc.
While the headliners grab the headlines, I am excited to see a lot of upstart bands in festival mode. Notably on Thursday: Lucy Dacus, Arkells, G-Easy, Pinegrove and Wavves. On Friday: the Beatlesque Sunflower Bean, Horse Thief, 19 year old Alessia Cara, Modern Baseball, Frankie + The Studs, Wolf Alice, and Mac Miller. On Saturday I’m curious to see a new lineup of Houndmouth (without Katie Toupin), Jane’s Addiction back at it, Big Gigantic, Vic Mensa, Leon Bridges, and Chris Stapleton. On Sunday a more EDM-focused lineup includes indie acts Mothers, Fidlar, Die Antwoord, and Local Natives.
In the event you are unable to come, but love live music and discovering new bands, go to the Lollapalooza schedule on the website and click on individual artist blocks for each of the four days. You will be able to play select tracks from about half of the festival’s lineup.
This year’s Lollapalooza promises to pack some amazing performances and memorable moments, leaving four-day pass holders in need of a recovery day on Aug. 1. Hope to see you out there!