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The Lollapalooza Festival Review

Photograph of the blog post author, Richard Gilbert-Cross

Richard Gilbert-Cross


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Lollapalooza is an annual music festival that began in 1991 and takes place in various locations around the world, including the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, France and Germany. 


The festival features a diverse range of musical acts across multiple stages and genres, including rock, pop, hip-hop, electronic and many more. Lollapalooza has become notable for its thriving and energetic atmosphere, with attendees camping onsite in some locations and participating in other activities like art exhibits and food markets. 

Over the years, the festival has featured performances by a wide range of notable artists including Eminem, Nirvana, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Red Hot Chili Peppers and many others.

How did Lollapalooza begin?

First ever Lollapalooza Flyer

Lollapalooza was initially created in 1991 by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for his band. It has been said that Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins and booking agent Marc Geiger felt inspired after spotting 40,000 kids screaming in response to Pixies’ “Debaser” song at the UK’s Reading Festival.

Lollapalooza Festival was then initially conceived as a travelling show that would bring together a diverse range of musical acts and other performers. The first tour reached 20 cities throughout North America. 

The first Lollapalooza tour featured the bands’ Jane’s Addiction, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Living Colour, Ice-T, Butthole Surfers, Rollins Band and Nine Inch Nails. The festival was also known for unique non-musical performances such as the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, a modern-day version of a freak show.

The show featured a nipples and genitals weightlifter, a lightbulb eater, a man who ate seven feet of tubing, and a man called Slug who would eat insects. The festival would also host stalls for counter-culture activists and those protesting in support of important causes, such as AIDS, music censorship and animal welfare.

Quick Success

festival goer

The tour quickly became a huge success. Over the years, however, the festival has evolved and expanded to become more commercialised, with multiple stages and a wider range of genres represented.

Nowadays, as well as its musical history, Lollapalooza has also become known for its commitment to sustainability and social causes. The festival has implemented a number of green initiatives, such as using compostable materials and promoting public transportation, and has partnered with organisations like HeadCount to encourage voter registration and civic engagement.

Today, Lollapalooza is one of the biggest and most well-known music festivals in the world, drawing huge crowds and featuring some of the most popular and influential artists in the industry. It continues to be a major cultural event and a must-see experience for music fans.

Why were there no Lollapalooza shows in 1997?

There were, in fact, no Lollapalooza shows between 1997 and 2002. After a controversial decision to book Metallica in 1996, audiences started to lose interest in Lollapalooza, leading to the festival being nicknamed ‘Metal Fest ‘96’.

Further criticism was pointed at the festival due to the lack of diversity in the lineup, which people felt was increasingly moving away from what made Lollapalooza so groundbreaking. 

Perry Farrell tried to book more diverse musical artists as a response but decided to cancel the festival in 1997 when they failed to find a suitable headliner. The festival then went on hiatus until the new century.

When did Lollapalooza return?

Lollapalooza Paris 2023

Lollapalooza returned in 2003 after a hiatus that began in 1997. In 2003, the festival was re-launched as a touring festival featuring a diverse lineup of artists from various genres, including alternative rock, hip-hop, and electronic music.

The revival of Lollapalooza in 2003 was due to the efforts of Perry Farrell, who teamed up with concert promoter William Morris Agency and C3 Presents to organise the new version of the festival.

The 2003 tour featured headliners such as Jane’s Addiction, Audioslave, Incubus, Queens of the Stone Age and Jurassic 5, as well as a number of up-and-coming artists. The tour was a success, and Lollapalooza has since become an annual festival held in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois, featuring a diverse lineup of popular artists.

How did Lollapalooza get its name?

Intriguingly, the festival gets its name from a 20th-century phrase meaning “an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event”. Perry Farrell settled on the pleasant-sounding name after hearing it in a Three Stooges film. 

The term is also an outdated name for a large lollipop, which is represented by the festival’s original logo – that of a lollipop!

Where is Lollapalooza?

This year, Lollapalooza 2023 is taking place in eight cities and countries: Chicago, USA; Berlin, Germany; São Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; Stockholm, Sweden; Paris, France and Mumbai, India.    

Lollapalooza 2013 was to include a show in Tel Aviv, Israel, although this idea was later postponed. 

Man in crowd at festival looking at phone

What is the Lollapalooza schedule?

The festival generally takes place in the summer, although the South American dates tend to happen in the first few months of the year. For 2023, the Chilean festival took place from 17 Mar 2023 – 19 Mar 2023, with the Brazil show occurring one week later.

What is seen as the main Lollapalooza 2023 festival is occurring from August 3-6 at its usual location of Chicago’s Grant Park. Berlin takes place in September.

What is the Lollapalooza lineup this year?

Lollapalooza Chicago

Lollapalooza has just announced its 2023 lineup and it’s sure to be a hit. With over 150 performances from some of the biggest names in music, art, and culture, there’s something for everyone at this year’s festival.

Headliners include superstars like Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, and The Weeknd, as well as legendary acts like Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, and Stevie Wonder. Other big names include Travis Scott, Cardi B, Chance the Rapper, and Halsey.

The festival will also feature a variety of genres, including pop, rock, hip-hop, EDM, and more. There will be plenty of up-and-coming artists, too, like Lil Nas X, Juice WRLD, and Doja Cat.

How can you get tickets and how much does it cost?

Lollapalooza Brasil

Lollapalooza tickets are available from the festival’s website and prices vary according to the package selected.

Using Chicago 2023 as an example, 1-day General Admission tickets start at $125. This grants the purchaser access to any of the days plus access to the bars, food areas and over 170 performances on all 9 stages. 

Festival goers have the option to purchase 1-day, 2-day or 4-day festival tickets.

The festival also offers GA+ tickets, with extras such as fast-track into the premises and access to Lounges. There are also VIP and Platinum packages, costing $1600 and $4350 respectively.

The most premium ticket options to purchase are the 4-day Hotel Experience Package, the Cabanas accommodation (including a luxury suite for 30 – 50 guests) or the very exclusive Lolla Insider (with exclusive side-stage viewing) which is available by request only.

What does the Lolla Insider package get you and how much does it cost?

Lollapalooza India

Should you be lucky enough to have the money, why not go to the festival in style? Purchasers will receive true access-all-areas; private, on-demand golf cart transportation around the festival grounds; and personal concierge for your group, amongst many more luxuries. 

Whilst the price is not advertised online, the 2019 price was $50,000 for 4 people, according to a leaked email on Reddit. 

Should this be slightly out of your budget, you may wish to settle for the VIP or Platinum options. For Chicago 2023, a 4-day VIP ticket for 4 people will cost $10,126 plus taxes and fees, or $23,226.24 plus taxes and fees for the Platinum.

These options are also available to purchase individually.

What do VIP and Platinum get you at Lollapalooza?

If you’re going to the festival in style, you can get to enjoy the extra benefits that your upgraded ticket brings.

VIP ticket-holders can enjoy on-site golf cart shuttle transportation, unlimited access to two Lolla Lounges, as well as a VIP Concierge and their own dedicated entrance to the festival.

Those with Platinum tickets can look forward to complimentary all-day dining and a full-service bar; exclusive front-of-stage viewing at six stages with complimentary beer, seltzer, and water in all Platinum viewing areas; and complimentary lockers with mobile charging units, in addition to all of the VIP perks.

Are there bathrooms?

Yes, no need to worry about that! There are plenty of bathroom facilities for everybody to feel comfortable. 

In fact, for Chicago’s 2017 event, there were 900 toilets, urinals and sinks for the 100,000 eventgoers.

Do you need an ID to get in?

Whilst people are not required to show ID on entry, ID will be required for the collection of tickets. ID will also be required if attempting to purchase alcohol.

Are there any age restrictions?

Lollapalooza is welcoming to all ages, however, people under 13 must be accompanied by a legal guardian.

Has Lollapalooza ever experienced controversies?

Artist perfomring on stage

Like any festival, Lollapalooza has experienced its fair share of controversial incidents. The most high-profile shadow looming over Lollapalooza are reports that the festival has become too commercialised.

Some fans have grown frustrated that they are now “priced out” of the festival, with “eye-watering” tickets costing hundreds of dollars; even thousands. As the festival was set up with a DIY ethos, which celebrated individuality and anti-mainstream, many people feel that has now been lost.

There have been instances of violence and security issues at some Lollapalooza events, such as a 2003 show in New Jersey where a man was beaten to death in the parking lot. So too, the festival has experienced drug-related incidents.

Over the years, there have been several drug-related incidents at Lollapalooza, including drug overdoses and arrests for drug possession. For example, 68 people were hospitalized at Lollapalooza in 2022 and 15 arrests were made.

Despite these incidents, the festival is generally seen as incredibly safe.

What are the Top 10 memorable Lollapalooza performances of all time?

There have been so many electrifying performances over the years, it can be hard to compile a Top 10 list! However, we will do our best. Here goes:

10. Arcade Fire – Chicago, IL, 2017

Arcade Fire’s set at Lollapalooza in 2017 was a stunning showcase of the band’s talents. They played songs from their acclaimed album “Everything Now,” as well as fan favourites like “Rebellion (Lies)” and “Wake Up.” 

The band’s elaborate stage setup, which included a giant disco ball and colourful streamers, added to the overall spectacle of the performance. After the seat, the band were praised for their “energy and synergy” with a “magical” performance.

9. Eminem – Chicago, IL, 2011

Eminem’s set in 2011 was described as “incredible”. He had not long after releasing the album “Recovery”, the bestselling album of 2010 and the Detroit-based rapper’s second following a recovery from drug addiction.

He played a greatest hits set including songs such as “Lose Yourself” and “The Real Slim Shady,” and the crowd went wild.

8. Pearl Jam – Miami, Florida, 1992

When Pearl Jam stepped on stage in Miami, they had just released their debut album “Ten” and they were on the verge of becoming one of the biggest bands in the world. To this day, many people who were there describe this performance as “one of the best days of (their) life”.

The full set is above where you can enjoy classics such as “Alive” and “Jeremy”.

7. LCD Soundsystem – Chicago, IL, 2016

James Murphy’s band continued their comeback from hiatus with a show the Michigan Daily called the “Best Concert Ever”, where it was said the ground was “literally shaking”.

The high-energy show had the feeling of a huge outdoor rave, with old classics and new songs combined.

6. Lady Gaga – Chicago, IL, 2010

It’s easy to forget that Lady Gaga hasn’t always been the megastar she is to this day. When she rocked up with her band at Lollapalooza in 2010, she was fast becoming one of the biggest musicians in the world, but still had a lot to prove.

Despite no decent official recording of her set, she won plaudits with her set drawing comparisons with her idol Madonna. Once the lights closed on the final song, not many people were in doubt that she would become huge. 

Top 5 Performances

5. Kanye West – Chicago, IL, 2008

It wasn’t Kanye West’s first headline performance at the festival, having previously played in 2006. However, it was the first with his new album “Graduation”, which packed the setlist of his Chicago show.

The flashing lights, electro-beats and thumping basslines wowed the lucky concertgoers, who were spoiled for choice with headliners that year; also enjoying Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against The Machines.

4. Daft Punk – Chicago, IL, 2007

Daft Punk’s 2007 Lollapalooza performance was a true spectacle. The French duo played on a massive pyramid-shaped stage, with dazzling lights and visuals that left the crowd in awe.

Luckily, a crewmember surreptitiously copied the private satellite backhaul of the show, which was held privately for many years. However, you can now see a high-quality version of the whole set above.

3. Radiohead – Chicago, IL, 2016

Radiohead is a band so good they have many life-affirming concerts under their belts. According to many fans, one of these was at Lollapalooza Chicago in 2016, where they were celebrating the release of their new album “A Moon Shaped Pool”. 

As well as new songs, the band also performed “Paranoid Android” and “Let Down” before ending the show with “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” and “Karma Police”.

Spend an amazing two hours watching the whole set above.

2. Rage Against the Machine – Chicago, IL, 1993 

Rage Against the Machine’s politically charged music was a perfect fit for the Lollapalooza stage. Their performance in 1993 was particularly memorable, as it featured a powerful rendition of “Killing in the Name” that had the entire crowd shouting along.

Oh, and there’s no forgetting that introduction. The band, protesting about music censorship at the time, walked out onto the stage completely naked.

1. Jane’s Addiction – Tempe, Arizona, 1991

The original Lollapalooza headline performance, Jane’s Addiction played against a backdrop of animosity and infighting. However, this performance showed just how electrifying Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro and co. were at their peak.

Some fans swear this is the last time the band played in their true prime.

Are there any other notable Lollapalooza performances?

Interestingly, the most popular YouTube video from the festival is Foster The People’s ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ from Lollapalooza’s 2014 festival. This has a huge 21 million views. 

Following this is Radiohead’s 2016 performance of ‘Karma Police’ in Chicago (12 million views).

What does the future look like for Lollapalooza?

Despite taking a break in 2020 due to Covid, and opening its doors with restrictions in 2021, Lollapalooza made a very welcome full return in 2022. The great news is that Lollapalooza is scheduled to run at Grant Park, Chicago for at least nine more years, after signing a ten-year licence in 2022.

It helps that the festival has never been more popular than ever. A huge 400,000 people attended the 2022 Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago. To place this in context, this is double the number of attendees at Glastonbury! 

The festival also continued to hire the best headliners and always look for ways to stay innovative. Lollapalooza made waves in 2022 when the festival was the first time that a South Korean artist has ever headlined a major U.S. music festival!

It looks like the future looks promising for Lollapalooza!


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