A fall without a World Series, a spring without a Weekend at Bernie's sequel and now a summer without Lollapalooza. Say it ain't so. Once thought to be an impregnable franchise, the seven-year-old summer festival was unable to secure enough upper-echelon acts to make this year's Lollapalooza road-worthy, so it won't rock out at all.
"We felt that we couldn't put out a solid enough tour in keeping with previous years," says Lollapalooza co-organizer Ted Gardner. "It would have been detrimental to us and the artists that would perform." However, rather than kill Lollapalooza altogether, Gardner expects the festival to make its return next summer. "We shall rise again," he says. "We shall be the Phoenix."
Lollapalooza's descent can be traced from its aberrant, critically-panned Metal-palooza package two years ago, which featured Metallica, Soundgarden and the Screaming Trees, to last year's Lousy-palooza, chock full of commercial stiffs like Orbital, Tricky and James. This year, a handful of prominent modern rockers like Jane's Addiction, Green Day, Garbage, the Foo Fighters, Marilyn Manson and Radiohead turned down headlining slots. Jane's waffled about their decision for four months, reportedly holding up the recruitment process, before ultimately declining the offer; Green Day and Garbage plan to embark on their own tours; the Foo Fighters have planned a light touring schedule this summer; Manson's album was delayed past the Lollapalooza launch date; and Radiohead will begin work on another record.
Up until Thursday night, the fate of Lollapalooza this summer was still in doubt. Two artists, whom Gardner refuses to identify, had given a tentative thumbs up to performing, provided a formidable lineup was in place. Scott Weiland is believed to be one of the artists, while the other is unknown; however, Gardner was in discussions with Everclear and rapper Busta Rhymes about joining the festival.
If Lollapalooza does in fact rise again, it won't be without a facelift. "We're gonna get rid of all that crap in front of the house," Gardner says, referring to the eclectic, multi-cultural food court, kitschy jewelry and hemp apparel stands. "Let the promoters look after that. They know their local people. The way I see it is kids like hot dogs, they like popcorn and they like pizza. Guatemalan wrist bands were great in the early days, but they just don't cut it any more."
Seven years after its inception, the festival responsible for imbuing tours like H.O.R.D.E., Lilith Fair, Ozzfest and Warped with credibility, is in hibernation. Still, Gardner is proud Lollapalooza didn't compromise its name. "I think if we were to do it this year, that would be the death if it came off as being weak or insipid," he says.