Lollapalooza Scraps Opener

Production problems official explanation for cancellation

Perry Farrell's Lollapalooza Festival cancelled its planned July 3rd kickoff in Ionia, Michigan, yesterday, and will not reschedule the date. Returning this year after a five-year absence, the tour -- featuring Farrell's Jane's Addiction, Audioslave, Queens of the Stone Age, Incubus, the Donnas and more than fifteen other bands -- is now scheduled to open July 5th in Noblesville, Indiana.

From the festival's side, the explanation for the cancellation is technical and logistical: Jane's Addiction's set couldn't fit on the stage in Ionia. A spokeswoman for the festival, which will hit twenty-nine cities before wrapping up in Seattle August 23rd, said ticket sales weren't a factor in the cancellation, despite early reports that the festival wasn't selling well. Earlier this spring, Lollapalooza co-producer Adam Schneider told Rolling Stone that some Midwestern dates had sold slowly. "But it's not where you start a race," he said, "it's where you finish." Four thousand tickets had reportedly been sold for the Ionia stop.

But Lionel Haskins, manager of the Ionia County Fairgrounds, where Lollapalooza had been scheduled to stop, doesn't buy that explanation. First, the fairgrounds has two venues for concerts -- the grandstand, which has its own stage, and the infield, a general admission area that can accommodate more people but has no stage of its own. Lollapalooza was booked in the infield by Touring Pro, an independent agency, and was responsible for its own staging. "They're making it sound like our stage was a factor," Haskins says. "But they were never planning on using it anyhow. They bring in their own stage."

Second, according to Haskins, a crowd of 4,000 isn't nearly big enough to fill the infield -- where Metallica played in the mid-Nineties to around 25,000. "Even in the grandstand," he says, "4,000 is not a lot of people. In the Eighties we had around 12,500 there for Def Leppard and New Kids on the Block."

According to Haskins, Lollapalooza's planned July 18th stop in Detroit significantly cut into ticket sales in Ionia. "We're halfway between Grand Rapids and Lansing," he explains. "They didn't advertise [the Ionia] show in Lansing at all to protect the Detroit show. Why they would give the Lansing market to Detroit I don't know. We're really disappointed it got cancelled. It hurts the reputation of the Fair."

Refunds for the cancelled Ionia stop are available at the point of purchase only.