Photo by David Brendan Hall
Lollapalooza descends upon Chicago’s Grant Park next week, celebrating 25 years of the landmark alternative festival with the likes of Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Red Chili Peppers, and over 150 other hotly anticipated acts.
In anticipation, founder and Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell sat down with the Chicago Tribune’s Greg Kot to discuss the festival’s salad days, its early financial woes, and the blockbuster future that lies ahead.
However, Farrell proved surprisingly transparent on a variety of topics, specifically his titular EDM stage, which has become something of a punch line within the festival circle. Rest assured, he’s the first person laughing.
“When they said they wanted to name a stage after me (when the festival relaunched in 2005), I was honored,” he admits. “I like the adulation. But now you say, ‘Perry, what’s going on with your area here?’ Believe me, I’ve got questions myself.”
“I hate EDM,” he continues. “I want to vomit it out of my nostrils. I can’t stand what it did to what I love, which is house music, which was meditative, psychedelic — it took you on a journey. … I sometimes cringe at my own festival.”
Still, he contends that the festival wouldn’t be alive today without it, adding: “You’d have to do away with pop to escape it, and if you want to do a festival you can’t do away with pop.”
Farrell’s solution is even more surprising, as he hints at a new project in the near future: “The only way to change things is by changing things myself. At my new project, there will be great house music. I hope I will keep EDM at the door. They will be turned away.”
So, Lollapalooza II? Not exactly.
“I’ll transfer that experience and reach for the stars on my next project, and do things that have not been done by Lolla, and see how it goes,” Farrell explains. “It will be music-centric, I’m going to make a new scene, a new place, a different feel.
“Music will be at the heart of it,” he continues, “but it will be a completely new experience. That’s all I can tell you. You can expect the project to launch 18 months from now.”
Kot also spoke with co-founder Marc Geiger of William Morris, who had quite possibly the most sobering quotes of the entire piece. He argues that while Lollapalooza reflected “a subculture of music fans who felt alienated because mass media was telling them to listen to something they didn’t want,” those some bands and artists are “mainstream.”
“You can’t be rebellious anymore in that vein,” he extrapolates. “The kids aren’t defined by radio or other formatted MTV types of things. There’s a sprawling garden of music out there where everything is on the same platform — Spotify, Soundcloud, Beats, YouTube — and artists are not prejudged by an industry that likes to put everything in a specific bucket. We present what we think is great, which is less defined by genre. It’s more a buffet of music, because that’s where the listeners are.”
Agree, disagree, or consent, the interview is a great read, especially if you’ve been following the Lollapalooza lore for the past couple of decades. It should be noted that whereas other festivals have stumbled this summer, Grant Park’s diamond continues to sell out without a lineup.
That’s a type of power you can’t book or buy.