Created on: March 03, 2013 Last Updated: March 04, 2013
Created in 1991 as a farewell tour by Perry Farrell of the alternative rock band Jane’s Addiction, Lollapalooza began as a traveling event across the United States. It continued like that, in stops and starts, until 2005, when it landed at Grant Park, located along Lake Michigan, in Chicago, Illinois. In 2010, the festival again expanded its roots, this time to South America, first in Santiago, Chile, and later to Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Events and activities at Lollapalooza
Although the 3-day weekend event is centered around alternative music, it also includes much more, both musically and otherwise. The genres of music played at Lollapalooza include hip hop, heavy metal, punk, electronica, reggae and beyond. The festival describes its musical history like this: “Lolla was in the delivery room when alternative rock was born, brought hip-hop to the masses, waved glow sticks when the electronica scene came of age, and staked out tiny clubs to bring the best indie-rock to the big stage.”
Beyond the music, Lollapalooza was designed to create a sense of community as well. Today, the Chicago-based festival spreads out over 100 acres along the lakefront, highlighted by its multiple stages with a diverse array of performances that feature both the alt-rock upon which the concept was founded, but also dance, yoga, drumming, tumbling and other cultural offerings.
Included at Lollapalooza is a farmer’s market, areas for dining (Chow Town), activities for children (Kidzapalooza), areas to buy handcrafted items and a recycling area (Green Street). The focus on green activities includes not simply keeping the festival an eco-friendly zone, but also educating festival attendees through the use of workshops and information tents on everything from gardening to providing carbon offsets.
How it got its name
The term “lollapalooza” is defined as “an extraordinary or unusual thing,” and it was chosen by Perry Farrell after he heard it in a Three Stooges movie. The term can also refer to a giant-sized lollipop, a symbol that is often used in association with the festival.
Pros and cons of the festival
With its solid base now in Chicago (until 2018), it’s a winning addition for the city, for music lovers (with each year featuring some 130 performances or more), and for summer visitors to the Windy City (look for the festival at the beginning of August), adding yet another event to the city’s vast musical repertoire.
Not everyone is so thrilled with the festival, however. Music Critic Jon Bains noted, “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.”
Still, if your musical tastes run from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Jack White to Florence and the Machine to the Shins (and far, far beyond into obscurity), it’s a pretty great event.
Learn more about this author, Christine Zibas.
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What is Lollapalooza?