Only up until about a week ago, it was anyone’s guess if Lollapalooza was actually going to happen this summer in Grant Park. After a slew of other festivals started being announced through the city (all but one happening in late August into September), I was more curious to see if the production company had the gall to attempt to execute a full capacity festival before any other comparatively-sized event in Chicago. Well, it looks like they have it.
Like I discussed in this Instagram post, the only other festival happening before August in Chicago is Windy City Smokeout, taking place from July 8 to 11. This country music festival is dramatically smaller than Lollapalooza’s capacity, which can host up to 100,000 people per day during its four-day reign. It’s safe to assume that thanks to its smaller size, I hypothesize that they’re more comfortable with what is essentially a risk, hosting a large event just at the coattails of an unprecedented worldwide pandemic.
So how will Lollapalooza safely happen this summer? According to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office, the festival can happen “in accordance with current local public health guidance,” and “full COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results will be required to attend Lollapalooza 2021. For patrons who are not fully vaccinated, a negative COVID-19 test result must be obtained within 24 hours of attending Lollapalooza each day.” While I’m not going to get into the conspiracies of faking COVID vaccine records and/or negative test results, I’m also not going to say that those things aren’t possible, which is a dangerous situation for the city and festival to hypothetically be in.
If you tour the Lollapalooza Reddit thread alone, you can see how many dedicated attendees are excited about this news – but what about the general public? Apparently Columbia College Chicago still plans to have students go virtual for the fall Semester – but bars and restaurants will reach full capacity again soon or this summer? Will Lollapalooza have onsite vaccination booths or testing sites? These are questions that should probably be answered in order for this announcement to go off without a hitch, sans PR nightmare. Only time will tell.
Here are five things to take away from this announcement:
Lollapalooza 2021 is essentially a guinea pig for all other festivals this summer
Like I alluded to before, Lolla is the first festival of its magnitude happening this summer in Chicago. Big production festivals like Riot Fest and Pitchfork aren’t happening until September, which means they’re likely to have ample time to reconfigure if need be after seeing what Lolla does and doesn’t execute well. How will a mask mandate be enforced in a festival with 100,000 people? Will it be enforced? In the information section on Lolla’s website, there’s no mention of masks. Based off what I know about the execution of a festival of this size, it’s unlikely that the production company would have been able to book artists at the caliber they’re at if they weren’t set on the exact dates announced, which is a guess at why they didn’t attempt to move it to any other weekend.
Lollapalooza’s lack of female artist representation is sadly not surprising
I get that we’re living in an unprecedented time right now and booking acts isn’t the same as it would be in a non-COVID world, but why the hell are the main acts so…male? It’s awesome to see Miley, but where is Billie Eilish, Lana Del Rey, and Lizzo—three female acts heavily rumored to be on the main lines this year? Out of the first five lines of the bill, there are FOUR female-identifying musicians out of 29 acts. Pitchfork snagged Phoebe Bridgers & St. Vincent, but what about subheadliners like HAIM? RINA SAWAYAMA? Jessie Ware? Sylvan Esso? You get my point here.
The Foo Fighters’ booking isn’t surprising, considering they’ve been a rumored return act for the last DECADE, basically since they last performed in 2011. Post Malone is a bland booking. I have no opinion on Tyler the Creator. The subheadliners, in my opinion, is where the festival really had an opportunity to shine, but it’s overall pretty lackluster.
Emo and pop punk is back
Limp Bizkit, Modest Mouse, Jimmy Eat World, All Time Low, Young The Giant, Angels and Airwaves, and The Front Bottoms are a decently satisfying representation of an otherwise absent emo/pop punk undercards of the festival, considering that Lollapalooza was once a rock festival first and foremost. It’s also interesting to note that the lineup, which tends to be pretty pop culture-centric with commercially successful artists, the top lines DO skew a bit different than usual. Artists like Miley (who is definitely a commercial name, but released an alternative album last year), Journey, who is an act that most Gen Z’s likely do not know, Brockhampton, and Modest Mouse are all not as generally well-known musicians, compared to who has received this slots in the past few years (Kacey Musgraves, Hozier, Khalid, Dua Lipa).
TikTok has a real hold on the industry right now
A festival that’s already made up of teens and early 20 somethings is even younger this year, and that’s likely thanks to TikTok’s massive grip on Gen Z and a 2020 spent inside, on phones. Artists like Jack Harlow, Pop Smoke, Tate McRae, Flo Milli, and Toosii are just a few viral sensations that landed on this year’s lineup: Jack Harlow booked shockingly high.
See the lineup below:
4-day passes are on sale today at 12pm CST.