I never went to Lollapalooza back when it was a traveling show. I’m sure I missed some good times, but with headliners like Jane’s Addiction, I just never felt that excited about going. There was a lot of “alternative rock” in the ’90s era, whether it was grunge or whatever, that never connected with me. I never felt like I was part of that scene.
When Lollapalooza re-emerged as a one-location festival right here in Chicago, I did get excited. And for the past four years, I’ve attended the festival, posting reviews and photos here on Underground Bee, and also reviewing the fest for publications such as the Southtown Star. This year, I’m not going. Why not?
Well, it was a complicated decision, and some of my reasons are personal questions that really don’t have anything to do with other people’s decisions on whether to go. (Could I land a gig photographing and/or reviewing the festival that would actually involve me getting paid? Do I have the time to devote to three days of music followed by a day or two of writing and photo editing?)
But the bottom line was that this year’s lineup simply doesn’t interest me all that much. In particular, the headliners are bands that I either dislike (the Killers) or feel apathetic about (Depeche Mode, Jane’s Addiction). The lineup at last month’s Pitchfork Music Festival was better, and Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion has had a more interesting selection of diverse musical acts spread out over the summer than you’ll see at Lollapalooza.
If I were to attend Lollapalooza as a music journalist with a free press pass, I feel it would be my obligation to write about the headline acts, and frankly, I just don’t have that much to say about those bands. And if I were to attend Lollapalooza just as a paying fan — well, there is enough good music over the course of the weekend that I’m sure I could enjoy myself, but with three-day passes going for $205, it doesn’t seem worth it.
I’m not encouraging everyone else to say no to Lollapalooza. Anyone who’s a big fan of those headline bands will probably have a great time. You could also hear some good music even if you blow off the headliners. In my case, most of the middle- and lower-tier Lolla acts that I like are bands I’ve already seen. In some instances (including Neko Case and Andrew Bird), I have seen these performers many times. And somehow, the idea of seeing them amid the crowds at Lollapalooza just isn’t that appealing to me.
I do feel a twinge of regret that I’ll be missing these bands: Other Lives, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Andrew Bird, the Low Anthem, Constantines, TV on the Radio, Animal Collective, Neko Case, Lou Reed, Band of Horses, Bat for Lashes, Ida Maria, Lykke Li, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Deerhunter, Heartless Bastards and Amazing Baby. But for the most part, I’d rather wait to see them in some other venue, some other time.