This summer will be Lollapalooza’s seventh year in Chicago as a destination festival, yet the three-day music event is celebrating a 20th anniversary.
There haven’t been 20 Lollapaloozas — the tours took a hiatus from 1997 to 2003, and 2004’s was canceled due to low ticket sales before the event was reborn on Chicago’s lakefront the following year. But the website and marketing for the concert package include a “time capsule” with photos and recollections from Lollas past, back to its 1991 founding by Jane’s Addiction leader Perry Farrell as a traveling, multistage festival.
The lineup for Lollapalooza 2011, announced Monday, looks back, too — seeming to make up for those inactive years at the turn of the century. The all-male headliners for the festival, Aug. 5-7 in Grant Park, hark back to that era.
Eminem broke in 1999 with his acclaimed “Slim Shady LP.” Coldplay’s first EPs were out that year, ahead of its smash 2000 debut. Muse, My Morning Jacket and A Perfect Circle each debuted in 1999, while the Foo Fighters were in the middle of their ascendancy, having just lost guitarist Pat Smear (he’s back for the new album and tour).
News of Eminem, the Foo Fighters and Muse had leaked in February. Eminem’s top slot throws a spotlight on hip-hop at a festival that has featured rap as a headliner only twice in Chicago, and from the same rapper (Kanye West in 2006 and 2008).
The festival’s daily capacity will remain at 95,000 people, but this year they might have more room to roam. Charlie Jones, a partner in Lollapalooza’s organizers, the Texas-based C3 Presents, told the Sun-Times on Monday that changes to the layout will add several acres to the festival in Chicago’s downtown public park. (The footprint isn’t growing; the festival instead will utilize space it was allocated last year but did not use.) Much of that extra space will be in the softball fields west of Columbus Avenue (which last year was closed to traffic for the festival); Perry’s Stage, a tent for electronic acts curated by Lollapalooza founder and Jane’s Addiction leader Perry Farrell, will move there and double its capacity to about 15,000, Jones said.
“That part is simply responding to the demand,” Jones said. “When we started, Perry’s area was on one of those little tiny shell stages in the north end by the rose gardens. Every year it reaches capacity, and we keep moving it. … This is going to be the biggest tents you’ve ever seen.”
Other changes will include adjusting the schedule to improve foot traffic in and out of the main stages in Butler Field, which traditionally get jammed in the evenings. Jones said the festival is also adjusting the perimeter and tightening security to avoid a repeat of last year’s rash of fence jumpers.
This will be the second Lollapalooza festival in ’11. In an effort to branch out the brand, C3 Presents launched Lollapalooza Chile early this month, with 57 bands playing a Santiago public park, much like Grant Park, headlined by the Killers, Kanye West and Thirty Seconds to Mars.
C3 now produces Lollapalooza Chicago, Lollapalooza Chile, the Austin City Limits Festival, and in October they are helping to relaunch the Langerado music festival north of Miami, Fla.
The rest of the Lolla Chicago lineup — 123 bands in all — is the usual smorgasbord of acts snatched from various genres to round out a bill attracting a demographically diverse bunch of ticket buyers.
Then again, the lineup isn’t the draw for some fans. “Early bird” three-day passes ($185) went on sale March 29, with only the top three headliners leaked, and sold out within a few hours. Regular three-day passes, available now at lollapalooza.com, are $215; VIP three-day passes go for $850. Single-day tickets are $90 and will be available June 7.
The complete lineup for Lollapalooza 2011 is as follows:
My Morning Jacket
A Perfect Circle
Cee Lo Green
Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley & Nas
Big Audio Dynamite
Explosions in the Sky
Death From Above 1979
The Mountain Goats
Young The Giant
Grace Potter & the Nocturals
The Joy Formidable
Fitz & The Tantrums
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
City and Colour
Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses
TAB the Band
Noah & The Whale
J. Roddy Walston And The Business
The Pretty Reckless
Lis s ie
Boy & Bear
Kids These Days
Foster the People
Cold War Kids
The Kingston Springs
Mayer Hawthorne & the County
Cage the Elephant
The Chain Gang of 1974
The Naked and Famous
Portugal. The Man
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Two Door Cinema Club
Maps & Atlases
Playing on Perry’s Stage:
The Glitch Mob
The Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77
Super Mash Bros.
Kyle Lucas & Captain Midnite
PerryEtty vs Chris Cox
Looking into the lineup …
The requisite slots for 1980s stars this year include a set by the reunited Big Audio Dynamite. Mick Jones’ post-Clash dance-rock outfit, with DJ Don Letts, mulled a reunion last year while many of its old albums were reissued. This year, Jones will be free of the Gorillaz and has scheduled several festival appearances for B.A.D. Also back to the future: The Cars have reunited, featuring Ric Ocasek, guitarist Elliott Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes (bassist Ben Orr died in 2000), with a new album out next week. Just want the sound of the ’80s? Check out the Drums, a young but retro-sounding band from Brooklyn.
International acts this year include three bands from Chile — Chico Trujillo, Los Bunkers and Ana Tijoux — where Lollapalooza inaugurated a new spring festival early this month, along with some interesting acts from around the globe: the baby-doll dance-pop of Kerli, from Estonia; the mature teen pop of Ximena Sarinana, from Mexico, and, because no festival is credible nowadays without a Scandinavian pop act, there’s the hypnotizing Lykke Li, from Sweden. Irish traditionalist Imelda May will be there, too, following her recent tour on Jeff Beck’s Les Paul tribute.
Think globally, act locally
Other bands sound as if they have foreign roots but don’t. Beirut is actually a guy from Santa Fe, N.M., and his graceful, Andrew Bird-like indie-folk includes songs like “My Night With the Prostitute in Marseilles.” Lord Huron hails from Michigan but mashes up many world-music styles, especially from the South Pacific. Local Natives, from suburban L.A., were incredible last year at the Pitchfork festival.
The Lollapalooza lineup will give Chicagoans their first big-time look at the Vaccines, one of the year’s buzziest buzz bands, playing bold, no-nonsense modern rock. Fitz & the Tantrums are a lively new soul band from L.A. whose stages keep getting bigger, and they’ll be worth blocking out time on the Lolla schedule. Kentucky’s rocking Cage the Elephant has raised its profile lately and deserves its shot at Lolla-level exposure. Also, get out your pink highlighter and color in the Joy Formidable, a driving modern rock band from the north of Wales.
Despite being based in Chicago, Lollapalooza keeps a tight lid on Chicago artists. The handful that made the cut this year includes the recently omnipresent Smith Westerns, creative video-makers OK Go, experimental folk band Maps & Atlases (highly recommended) and shoegazey rock band Disappears.
The dance stage
Perry’s Stage — the fest-within-a-fest, a tented stage dedicated to electronic music — expands this year to nearly double its previous size. Thus, the lineup expands, too, and is much more interesting this year, featuring headliners like popular collage-artist Girl Talk and singer-rapper (now on Kanye West’s label) Kid Cudi. Also worth venturing to the tent for: sample artist Pretty Lights, remix pros the Glitch Mob and masked Italian dance duo the Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77.