Lollapalooza Evolution

When Perry Farrell came up with the idea for in 1991, it was to make Jane’s Addiction’s final tour together a kickass, memorable event on its own terms. Farrell’s brainstorm has since evolved into a lifestyle destination event celebrating its 20th year Aug. 5-7 along with the first international in Santiago, Chile, April 2-3.

Photo: Jeremiah Alexis
Lollapalooza Chile, Santiago, Chile

“It sounds really simple but I just wanted to have a really good, wild time outside of the box from what was going on in those days, which was basically a three-group bill,” Farrell told Pollstar. “I wanted to mix things up and draw out that underground, those alternative rock kids, that I knew were out there in every city.

“And after all these years … the glue that holds Lollapalooza together is still, to this day, alternative music. What has evolved to be the modern festival – the root of it all – is still what was started back in 1991, is the alternative scene.”

The festival was a roadshow of music, community and culture, hitting numerous cities around the States. That concept remains and keeps evolving since landing a permanent home at Chicago’s Grant Park in 2005.

Photo: Scott Legato /
Lollapalooza 2010, Grant Park, Chicago, Ill.

Lollapalooza was also an early proponent for environmental education and other causes mixed in with the fun.

“It wasn’t always goofy and weird. From the get-go we were in on the whole idea of greening and having a carbon-neutral festival,” Farrell said. “We started with Greenpeace way back when, and I started to learn about the environment and how to take care of it.

“It’s held true to today. We have a carbon-neutral festival with 90,000-plus people per day in the park.”

In addition to being an alternative music mecca for concertgoers, Farrell and partners William Morris Endeavor and C3 Presents work with city officials to make the event a positive experience for residents as well as the fans.

“This is something people look forward to as a destination. It works for us to make Chicago, for those three days, an incredible city of experience and leisure and nightlife,” Farrell said. “[And] we’re not just building something. When we leave [the park], we leave it beautified, we leave it enhanced.”

As for Lollapalooza’s launch in Chile, Farrell said a combination of factors led to choosing Santiago and its Eclipse Del Parque O’Higgins for the fest headlined by Jane’s Addiction, Kanye West and The Killers.

“My partners and I saw in South America beautiful, open fields in which to start building. We didn’t see a lot of clutter, we didn’t see a lot of competition. We saw a culture coming into its own,” Farrell said. “They have a great desire and passion for music but a lot of international groups hadn’t gone there. It went exceptionally well [and] we’re excited about next year.”

The fact that Lollapalooza, headlined by Eminem, Foo Fighters and Coldplay in August, has survived the ups and downs of the business for so long is an accomplishment in itself. But Farrell and his partners always look ahead to make the cutting-edge festival the place to be every summer.

“How I look at it now, it’s become its own organism. It has a life and direction, just like a child,” Farrell explained. “The people that attend it are truly alive and young and impressionable. What can I bring to them? It’s a strange brew that I’m creating for them to imbibe that hopefully will change them for the better.

Lollapalooza, Chicago.

“All lessons [that] I learned [were] from Bill Graham. He was the Man. Everything from his festivals to the Grateful Dead and their career and how they created a lifestyle and a place where people wanted to be included, to venture out. That’s what you’re looking to build.”