Aggregated From: Forbes – Lifestyle
Festival Preview: Lollapalooza 2018 – Bruno Mars, Arctic Monkeys, The Weeknd, Jack White And More
Since 2005, Lollapalooza has called Chicago’s Grant Park home in its reincarnation as a destination festival.
Largely responsible for the American summer festival boom we see today in the form of destination fests like Coachella in California and Bonnaroo in Tennessee, Lollapalooza actually began in 1991 as a daylong touring concert designed to celebrate the farewell of alternative rockers Jane’s Addiction across the country.
Co-founded by Jane’s frontman Perry Farrell, Lollapalooza reestablished the idea of the rock festival in America after decades on the decline.
Throughout Europe, destination festivals have been a summer fixture for decades. In the U.K., Reading began as an annual festival in its current site in 1971 (though its roots go all the way back to 1958), the same year that Glastonbury debuted its famed pyramid stage in its second year.
Denmark’s Roskilde Festival also began in 1971 while Belgium’s Pukkelpop dates back to 1985 and Germany’s Wacken Open Air to 1990.
Outside Europe, Brazil’s Rock in Rio, which began in 1985, is notable as one of the first festivals to successfully expand upon a strong brand, branching out to Portugal in 2004, Spain in 2008 and America (Las Vegas) in 2015.
In the U.S., following the unpredictability of Woodstock in August of 1969 and the mayhem that came to define the Altamont Free Concert (following the stabbing of Meredith Hunter) only four months later, festivals largely disappeared.
Often described as a celebration of alternative music, Lollapalooza, in its days as a touring festival between 1991 and 1997, actually featured much more, showcasing a diverse array of artists like U.K. goth rockers Siouxsie and The Banshees, funk/jazz/metal outfit Living Colour and rap/metal hyrbid Ice-T and Body Count all in 1991 alone.
The safety and success of the initial Lollapalooza touring model led to an American festival rebirth…
- H.O.R.D.E. Festival toured the country, celebrating jam bands like Blues Traveler and Widespread Panic, annually between 1992 and 1998
- Warped Tour began an unprecedented punk rock run in 1995 that has continued each year through its final dates this summer
- Furthur Fest launched around Grateful Dead culture in 1996
- Smokin’ Grooves was inspired by Afrocentric rap and more in 1996
- Ozzy Osbourne’s Ozzfest filled the metal niche annually between 1996 and 2007
- Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair showcased female artists from 1997 through 1999
- Moby’s Area festivals threw back to Lollapalooza’s diversity in 2001 and 2002 via bookings like Outkast, David Bowie and New Order
After taking a break to refocus and retool, Lollapalooza relaunched as a touring entity in 2003. A 2004 tour was aborted and the destination festival we know today took root in Chicago in 2005.
There’s arguably no stronger brand in the concert industry than Lollapalooza. Nodding in the direction of Rock in Rio, Lolla began an unprecedented leverage of that brand via expansion into Chile in 2011, Brazil in 2012, Argentina in 2014, Berlin in 2015 and Paris in 2017, with a Sweden debut scheduled next summer in Stockholm.
As artists have begun to schedule summer tours around the American festival circuit, festival ticket sales, even for established brands, have begun to suffer. Many festival lineups look nearly identical nationwide and fans seeking a unique experience have started to take a pass. Lollapalooza bucked that emerging trend though, for the first time in its 14 years in Grant Park, ticket sales following the initial on sale have been slower than usual this year.
That said, Lolla’s booking of an artist like Bruno Mars as Chicago headliner, seems to indicate they’re aware of that desire for something different. While he is on tour in America this summer, Lollapalooza is the only North American festival Mars has booked right now.
This year’s Chicago lineup embraces hip hop more than ever, with an array of weekend bookings that spans multiple generations from groundbreaking legend LL Cool J to contemporary artists like Travis Scott, Logic, Lil Uzi Vert and Tyler, the Creator.
Guitars, however, seem to be in shorter demand at Lollapalooza with each passing year. Rock is largely ignored, save for Jack White and Michigan quartet Greta Van Fleet, though alternative is represented via artists like Arctic Monkeys, Portugal. The Man and St. Vincent.
While a scheduled performance by Lolla godfather Perry Farrell’s new project Kind Heaven has been cancelled, his namesake “Perry’s Stage” will continue to present cutting edge dance and electronic artists like Galantis, Dillon Francis, Rusko, Zedd and Excision.
As impressive as the headliners are, there’s always reason to get to the festival early and explore new and upcoming artists and sounds.
Friday, in particular, features a couple of early gems. Australian indie rock outfit Gang of Youths has risen quickly following breakout performances earlier this year at South By Southwest and perform at 1:45PM CST Friday. Shortly thereafter, Chicago’s own Taylor Bennett hits the stage at 2:30 (the rapper is the younger brother of Chancelor Bennett, AKA Chance the Rapper).
Socially aware Chicago rapper Femdot is equally can’t miss at 12:50 on Saturday.
*** To purchase Lollapalooza tickets, click HERE
Jim Ryan, Contributor