As predictably as the first blossoms of Spring, , though the connection between what will happen in Grant Park from July 28 to 31 and the scrappy, daylong touring alternative-rock festival that started a quarter of a century ago is merely a matter of corporate branding at these points.This year, 170 bands will somehow squeeze into Grant Park between the countless companies tirelessly marketing themselves to the snookered demographic of (mostly) young, privileged, and horny drunks for an expanded four days of Walmart on the Lake. The headliners—and you’re forgiven for thinking you’ve heard this before, because you have, today and in years past—include Radiohead, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, LCD Soundsystem (back after a brief five-year “retirement”), and Lana Del Rey, to which I respond with a resounding: YAWN.
My objections to this most crass of musical cash machines have been well-documented in this space. These include but are by no means limited to the obnoxious two-tiered velvet-rope treatment accorded the wealthy patrons of the one percent (a four-day V.I.P. pass this year costs $2,200) and the refugee-camp experience afforded the rest of the muddy masses (who merely pay $335); the aforementioned and relentless corporate hype; the lousy sound, awful sight lines, and blistering heat or drenching rain marring the outdoor experience; the cram-’em-all-in capacity crowds, and the negative impacy the fest has on the rest of the Chicago music community, all of which combine to make Lollapalooza something to endure rather than enjoy or celebrate.
For once, I feel a little less alone in making these complaints. , The New York Times’ ace team of music critics—Jon Pareles, Ben Ratliff, and Jon Caramancia—announced that this year, they’re opting out of covering the big festivals. They specifically cited Coachella and Bonnaroo, not even deigning to mention Lollapalooza, though the paper has covered it in the past. And while their reasons are more tamely worded than my gripes above, that are nonetheless striking. When they cover these events, they write: