Lollapalooza lineup analysis: What's wrong and what's right with this picture?
Lollapalooza is taking a stab at becoming the country's most appealing, mainstream festival in the country, and it's never become more apparent that it has with the announcement of 2010's headliners.
As previously reported, Green Day, Lady Gaga, Soundgarden, Arcade Fire, The Strokes and Phoenix are the big names from this year, peppered in the secondary with many rock-centric acts like Spoon, The National, MGMT, Social Distortion and Devo. If only Jay-Z were in that mainline announcement, it'd cover the trifecta of rock, pop and hip-hop (but it was Coachella that nabbed that one early).
It's a sea change from last year's somewhat nostaligic lineup for rock fans, with fest founder Perry Ferrell's reunited Jane's Addiction, Depeche Mode, Lou Reed and even, debateably, Tool. The Killers and Kings of Leon rounded that out, plus there was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the sole act to keep the thing from turning into a 100% sausage party.
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Outside Lands is in the competition for biggest mainstream festival, with last year's headliners Beastie Boys, Pearl Jam, Black Eyed Peas, Incubus, M.I.A. and Dave Matthews Band (the Beasties were replaced by Tenacious D after news that the hip-hop pranksters had to pull out due to Adam Yauch's health). Held in San Francisco's biggest park, it's easy to get to, and the Bay area is easy to crash for outsiders. Coachella is hardly regional competition, considering it's at the other end of the state
Bumbershoot has also hosted acts like Black Eyed Peas, but it's own competition is within it's own locale; other genre-specific and local music festivals like Sasquatch! have claimed ticketbuyers, plus Seattle is a bit tougher to navigate for visitors outside of the area, considering the need for a car (over mass transportation). However, the draw of the extra day from Labor Day is tough to beat. There has been little in the way of announcements concerning this year's 2010 lineup announcements, but maybe after Coachella things will start rolling out.
Back to this year's Lolla lineup, Phoenix seems to be the only artist that sticks out among the headliners, although, they may just be playing the other end of Grant Park opposite of a disparate act like Social Distortion or Jimmy Cliff. Phoenix had a great 2009 with "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix," but as a 50,000 cap headliner?
There's the possibility that there will be no other act playing while Lady Gaga takes the stage, effectively pulling a Radiohead: in 2008, the latter act filled just the south end of the park with 75,000 strong, with no competition.
But competition is what makes Lollapalooza both great and miserable. Two headliners generally play at the same times each night, a couple miles apart between them, offering options to fest-goers who may like one band but not the other but also making it hard on the audience member who love both acts (it's not worth it trying to catch one and then the other, the walk is just too long). With seven stages running most of the time during the day, audiences are bound to miss something they like. A fest like Lolla makes folks greedy, no doubt.
But it also spoils. Lady Gaga is a treat, and a big "get" for the organizers. Green Day is one of those bands who fell back into everybody's good graces with "American Idiot" and haven't let up since. And Soundgarden is a good one to bring in for older music lovers who don't give a happy hoo-ra for the other two.