Michael Roffman and I first met on the Lollapalooza message board back in 2007 and came up with the idea to launch a website that catered to music festival news and rumors. At the time, the music festival boom was just beginning, inspired by a jam festival’s decision to book Radiohead. 80,000 people went to Bonnaroo that year — a defining moment for an industry ravaged by Napster and Limewire. People were still willing to pay good money for music, just as long as there were a few potent headliners, a reunion or two, and some of those “indie bands.” The following year Coachella booked Rage Against the Machine, Bonnaroo reunited The Police, and Lollapalooza got Daft Punk. It’s been a rat race ever since, with the major festivals met with increasing expectations, all while new festivals pop up by the dozen.
Last week on Twitter I had my first ever rant, spurred on by an article in Chicago’s Red Eye lambasting the repetitiveness and unoriginality of Lollapalooza’s four leaked headliners (The Killers, Vampire Weekend, Mumford and Sons, and Phoenix). I posed this question: five years ago, what did we think Lollapalooza would look like in 2013? Truth be told, there’s really no environment for an aspiring rock band to grow into a formidable headliner on the level of Radiohead or The White Stripes — not unless said band wants to be barraged with accusations of selling out or being inauthentic. At least that’s how Mumford and Sons and Kings of Leon succeeded in becoming headliners to the dismay of the nerds and critics reading this site. The alternative, of course, is repeated headliners, tired reunions, and headliners who probably aren’t headliners.
Needless to say, it must be a lot more difficult to book a festival in 2013 than it was in 2007. That’s why this year’s Lollapalooza lineup should be lauded. Faced with such expectations and increased competition (there are about eight European festivals that take place the same weekend), Perry Farrell and C3 Presents pieced together a lineup featuring three unique grabs (The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, QOTSA), three members of indie royalty (Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, The Postal Service), and even something for the mainstream (Mumfords). The mid-tier of the lineup is also impressive (The National,
Booking a music festival is not easy. Lower your expectations and maybe just maybe this lineup will get the credit it rightfully deserves.
It doesn’t take a thorough listen of Bestival Live 2011 to know that The Cure would make a great Lollapalooza headliner. Actually, it doesn’t take any studying at all. For years, Robert Smith’s bastardized refugees have long been sought after by Lolla fans and considering the rave reviews this incarnation of The Cure have been receiving — including this one — it’s not too hard to start gushing tears of joy over this get. -Michael Roffman
Nine Inch Nails
Second to The Cure, Nine Inch Nails are Lollapalooza’s most impressive booking. Two years ago, Trent Reznor had all but sworn off his celebrated rock band, opting instead for film scores and his new project, How to Destroy Angels. But after collaborating with King Crimson’s Adrian Belew, Reznor was inspired to relaunch NIN with a brand new lineup. Currently, Lollapalooza marks the band’s first confirmed North American performance and if their set at Lollapalooza 2008 was any indication, bring ear plugs and don’t stare at the lights for too long. -Alex Young
Two things: Yes, they’re playing Coachella. Sure, they were just in Chitown last November. But ask yourself this: Do you really wanna dance to “True Faith” only once? No. Do you want to sing “Temptation” underneath the city skyline? That was rhetorical. Who knows, maybe they’ll be opening for The Cure? Our hearts just might explode come August. -Michael Roffman
Queens of the Stone Age
Like Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age will make their first major North American festival appearance of 2013 at Lollapalooza, which they’ll use to showcase material to debut off their star-studded new album, …Like Clockwork. Trent Reznor is on the album, so maybe he can make a cameo during the set. If not, there’s always Dave Grohl or Alex Turner or Mark Lanegan or Sir Elton John or Nick Oliveri… -Alex Young
California’s best export since, okay, well I don’t really wanna answer that, but Haim is pretty great. (Ahem, we CoSign’d ’em and they’ve been tagged as openers for Vampy Weeks. Hello!) Together, the three sisters craft the smartest pop out there and since they’re bound to explode, consider this your chance to get in before they’re everyone’s favorite thing. Actually, that might happen before August anyhow. Warning: You might leave your spouse and/or get arrested climbing the stage to give them your number. -Michael Roffman
Consequence of Sound‘s 2012 Rookie of the Year continues to make waves, first with an appearance earlier this week on XXL magazine’s Freshman Class cover and now a booking at the country’s biggest festival. The only thing more ferocious than Angel Haze’s rhymes is her flow, and having spent the last month on tour with Major Lazer, she’s also road tested. Make time in your busy schedule to catch this rising New York rapper, I guarantee you won’t be sorry. -Alex Young
Lollapalooza’s lineup is seriously lacking punk music. Fortunately, our 2012 Band of the Year Death Grips bring the intensity of about 10 punk bands. Our 2012 band of the year represent everything that Lollapalooza is not (anti-coportasim, anarchy, dick pics), so who knows the destruction or commentary in store for Grant Park. Either way, props to Lollapalooza on taking a chance and booking these guys. -Alex Young
Lana Del Rey
Yeah, can’t say we saw this coming. But hey, that Leonard Cohen cover of hers ain’t too bad.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
As with Bonnaroo, the factors were all there: New album, open itinerary, and a lack of a Chicago date thus far. This news sort of sucks because the last time Karen O visited Lollapalooza (2009, that is), she was a headliner and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs just delivered all sorts of awesome. Their name would certainly add more shine to the lineup’s poster than, say, The Killers. -Michael Roffman
OFWGKTA’s wunderkind is set for a big year with the release of his debut album and appearances at Coachella and Sasquatch!. It’s an aggregious omission — he doesn’t even have a Chicago show scheduled — so hopefully Lollapalooza will right a wrong and add Earl down the road. -Alex Young
Do we really need to explain this one?
The Wu-Tang reunion is already scheduled to hit Coachella and Bonnaroo, and with RZA having previously mentioned that the group was talking to Lollapalooza, an appearance at Grant Park appeared likely. Plus, sans Kendrick Lamar, Angel Haze, and Azealia Banks, the lineup is pretty bare of hip-hop. Maybe they just broke the bank booking Lana Del Rey? -Alex Young
Alabama Shakes had the plug pulled on their set at last year’s Lollapalooza due to a torrential rainstorm. Now a Grammy winner and festival circuit mainstay, common logic suggested that the band would be invited back. Unfortunately, common logic doesn’t always win out. -Alex Young
Who to Know
Chicago rapper Chance the Rapper
UK garage rockers Palma Violets
Saskatoon blues rocker Reignwolf
NYC indie rockers SKATERS
Brooklyn electro pop project St. Lucia