“Radiohead, the specs and requirements for their show, it keeps getting taller and taller,” says Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell, on the phone from Chicago. “It used to be they would hang their trusses 40 feet up, now they’re going up 60 feet. Everything’s getting bigger and wider.” Lollapalooza, the summer rock-and-lifestyle staple begins its 2008 weekend on Friday and it too is growing. According to Farrell, the three-day, eight-stage, 120-plus act Lollapalooza 2008 is within a few tickets of selling out, a show that he estimates will be attended by 75,000 people.
Radiohead will kick off the first show of their U.S. tour at the festival alongside Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West, Wilco, Love and Rockets, the Raconteurs and Gnarls Barkley. Farrell credits his roster of heavy hitters to a changing music industry. “It used to be that you had to count on a record cycle,” he says. “If you look through this [list of bands], it’s not exactly record cycle material. Four of the headliners are not signed to major labels. Amazing, right?” Farrell says that spot-dates for a band like Rage makes more financial sense than an ungainly tour with no label support. “Musicians have always been around the campfire, banging on stones with pieces of wood or bones. We’re always gonna be around, we just want to make sure we have fun parties to play and lucrative places to show up and impress people.”
So what about his own headline-grabbing band, Jane’s Addiction? They’re currently free from major label shackles and reunited with bassist Eric Avery for the NME Awards in April, the first time the band has been intact since the months after headlining the first Lolla in 1991. “I’m not opposed to it like I used to be. I would cringe and spit at the floor if you would have asked me that last year,” says Farrell. “Every time we get together it’s just very volatile. [After the NME Awards], all hell broke loose in my life and I couldn’t sleep because we argue. But still, if I imagine us standing out on a stage in front of who knows how many people, getting down. All that hell and effort and tumult still sounds worth it to me.”
At this year’s Lolla, Farrell, along with a “special guest” will be doing a DJ set on Saturday afternoon at Perry’s, a new dance venue on the site — the Grant Park layout is so massive that for the first time Lolla is christening its own clubs on the grounds, including a microbrew beer garden called Ledehosen’s. “We thought we could make places to drink where you’re not just standing in line waiting for the next guy to get beer,” says Farrell. “[Perry’s] is a bit of house music and DJ culture, but with booze and shade and art. The club holds probably 400 people easily. It’s a place where you can listen to club culture music, but also get out of the sun for a moment — and, uh, get boozed up.”
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