Lollapalooza’s Successful Return Marks Bellwether Moment For The Concert Industry: 2021 Year End, The Great Return
Barry Brecheisen / Getty Images – Lollapalooza
Always one of the major events in any year, Lollapalooza ‘21 was one of this year’s biggest and most important by a long shot. While other festivals or large shows had taken place before Lolla’s late July start date, there had been nothing yet near its magnitude, with its caliber of headline talent and in a major urban setting like Chicago’s Grant Park.
Likewise, while other festivals and standalone events had taken place sporadically during the pandemic, this one would be watched much more closely and with potentially much more riding on its success.
Live Nation and C3 Presents developed a COVID protocol requiring fans to be vaccinated or show a negative test from within 72 hours before entering the venue. The policy was a success, with Live Nation reporting 90% of attendees were fully vaccinated – and that some fans even got the jab in order to attend the concert.
After the event, local health officials said only 203 cases of COVID-19 were linked to Lollapalooza, with no related hospitalizations or deaths, far from the dreaded super-spreader event some had feared.
“When we got the call that we were going to be able to move forward, the team sprang into action and has worked tirelessly to deliver an incredible festival,” C3’s Charles Attal told Pollstar days before the event. “Everyone involved including our team, managers, agents and bands moved quickly to make this year a success. We are so thankful for our partnership with the City of Chicago. They set forth some guidelines that had to be implemented in order for Lolla to move forward, and we are in constant communication as things evolve and change.”
Of course, Lollapalooza is about the music and artists, who had been eager to play – for some, on their biggest stage in years – and largely delivered. Highlights included Miley Cyrus’ 90-minute whirlwind of a set that included covers, guest stars from Billy Idol to The Kid LAROI and even Chicago Bulls mascot Benny The Bull. The ubiquitous Foo Fighters again showed why they headline events of all kinds in perpetuity, the lovable Post Malone picked up right where he left off before the pandemic and hip-hop continued its ascent to full mainstream, with Tyler, the Creator’s high-concept, high-production set headlining Friday night, with upstarts like Jack Harlow and Polo G finding large crowds and Megan Thee Stallion extending her hot streak.
In what may have been the event’s most surprising musical moment, Limp Bizkit’s daytime set made headlines, with frontman Fred Durst rocking a new look. Although the band canceled its headline tour after the event, due to rising COVID numbers, it signed with Artist Group International and continued its momentum by releasing a new album, Still Sucks, in October.
While Lolla ‘21 seemed to be mostly back to business as usual to fans and artists, the event’s success despite the extra levels of scrutiny, expense and risk involved will surely go down as a major feat.
“We have the best team in the business,” Attal said ahead of Lollapalooza. “Let’s put it this way: You know that feeling you get in your chest when the bass hits and the music is flowing through the air? We’ve all been waiting for this moment on a big scale to get those goosebumps and reconnect with music. At the end of the day, we’re ready to make that moment happen for a lot of music fans, but also, for ourselves.”