Did Lollapalooza Change Over the Year...Or Did I? (2012)
I know I tend to joke a lot about my age (a ripe old 32 (in 2012), wax poetic about the heyday of alternative rock, and refer to the 90's as my favorite decade (my friends would dispute I've never even mentally left the 90's). This doesn't mean I'm not entitled to have a legitimate observation without having it deemed "a longing for the past" or "you're just old, Kelly, get with the times!!" The observation to which I refer, is that the Holy Grail of all music festivals, Lollapalooza, has changed. Some would argue for the better, and some for the worse... I, however, DO miss the nostalgia of the 90's line-ups and how true they were to the Alternative Rock music scene.
Last year, Lollapalooza celebrated 20 years since Perry Farrell dreamed it up as a farewell festival for his group, Jane's Addiction (one of my absolute favorite bands). Of course, it's natural and understandable for things to evolve over time. I also can appreciate "changing with the times" and keeping up to date with current trends. Lolla has definitely done this; they are always on the cutting edge of combining some of the hottest mega artists with the "up and comers". My concern is that Lolla is losing touch with its original audience. The teenagers, who were the main attendees of the 90's Lollanpalloozas, are now in their 30's. We still exist, we didn't just disappear, and we can still make up a HUGE demographic of the concert goers. However, now, Lolla is geared more toward early 20-somethings. Almost forgotten are the more mature Alternative Rock aficionados, such as myself.
I agree and understand, you can't have the same bands play every year, nor can many of the bands from the original line-ups play today. Except for a very slim number (Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam for instance) most bands either are no longer together (Nine Inch Nails) , do not tour (Violent Femmes) , or suffered a member's death (Alice in Chains). Even though the "grunge" Seattle sound (which is like crack to me) is no longer manufactured, and its place in time is now the past... I feel Lolla should still go out of their way to pay homage to the sound that helped make the festival what it was at its inception. There is not one "grunge" band in the lineup this year, which is the first time in the history of Lollapalooza that this is the case.
Let's explore that word for a bit..."grunge". Most bands who were deemed "grunge" hated and shunned the title. However, we cannot deny, that the bands who came out of the gloomy underground Seattle music scene in the early 90's all shared a common and unique sound. Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Candlebox, etc put a stamp on a major sector of the Alternative Rock scene. Along with that stamp, they all made regular appearances at Lollapalooza. I get that "alternative" is wide ranging and can encompass acts from rock to grunge, hip-hop to punk, and dance to electro. But many people regard the alternative scene as being strongly influenced by 80's punk and hard rock. I feel that Lolla has made a MAJOR shift to the DJ's and electronic music and has shied away from the actual rock "bands".
Let's take a look at the line up shift from 1990's Lollapalooza to 2012 Lollapalooza. Here are a few of my favorite years... The very first was a pretty incredible creation:
1991- Jane's Addiction, Nine Inch Nails, Living Color, Ice-T, Violent Femmes, and Rage Against The Machine.
1992- This might have been the most epic conglomeration of bands EVER. It was a PERFECT mixture of grunge, alternative, hard rock, and rap.- Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ice Cube, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Porno for Pyros, Cypress Hill, House of Pain, Rage Against the Machine, AND Stone Temple Pilots. Who could possibly deny this might have been the best music line-up in history??
1994-Another perfect mixture... Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, Green Day, Cypress Hill, The Black Crowes, Flaming Lips, Lucious Jackson...
Even after the 6 year festival hiatus, the resurgence produced great line-ups:
2005- Liz Phair, Weezer, Widespread Panic, Billy Idol, Digable Planets, along with the introduction of "new" alternative rock bands such as: Arcade Fire, The Killers, The Black Keys.
2007- Even this recent year still had "grunge" bands with Pearl Jam and Silverchair. Punk legend, Iggy Pop, made an appearance along with alternative bands, Kings of Leon, and The Black Keys.
2012- Now moving on to this years line-up. There is not ONE "grunge" band. The only hard rock band that is reminiscent of the 90's is The Red Hot Chili Peppers (coincidentally this is also the year they are being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...right on). Black Sabbath is also slated to perform...if Ozzy can actually make it on stage, but it's not the same. Nor are the vast majority of other artists who are scheduled. Avicci, Kaskade, Bassnectar, Passion Pit are all DJ's or electropop artists, and they are the main headliners. I know that this is what is popular with the younger crowds, but it still feels a far cry from what Lollapalooza was meant to be.
I also feel that so many of the other bands, whether they are the "up and comers" or sub-headliners, are incredibly obscure. I used to be a big radio listener and being a Chicagoan, Q101 was my staple station. Now Chicago has NO alternative music radio station (since Q101 was discontinued in 2011 after 19 years on air), so many of the bands that are lesser known, wouldn't have the ability to be introduced to people of "my generation". I know that a lot of people are discovering new music through iTunes, Sound Cloud, Spotify etc, but I still like the radio dammit. I'm not totally out of touch as I download just as much music as the next person, as well as use all of the new apps, but there is something to be said for discovering music the old fashioned way.
To conclude, Lollapalooza, regardless of the line-up is still an awesome, sweaty, dirty, bad-ass fun time. I know most 25 year olds would say the line-up for 2012 is better than ever and that I'm out of touch and nuts for not knowing who Kaskade is and instead desperately wanting to see a hologram performance of Alice In Chains. But that is fine. Everyone changes and gets older, and I can only expect that a living breathing music festival will change as well. I guess to answer my original question: Lollapalooza has changed and I have pretty much stayed the same. The problem is, I still WANT to enjoy Lolla. I want to be happy to attend all 3 days, and not complain about how the Chili Peppers are the only band I want to see. I guess I do need to get with the times... I'm going to buy some $400 Beats by Dre headphones and start downloading all the music I claim to loathe... maybe in time it will grow on me. I hope it does. But if you're listening, Perry, if I could put in a request for some, Hole, Femmes, Pumpkins, Metallica, and Jane's for next year...pretty please.... Thanks :-)