Lollapalooza goes south | WBEZ
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Jim DeRogatis

Lollapalooza goes south

From the minute they launched the Austin City Limits Music Festival in their Texas hometown, C3 Presents, the promoters behind Lollapalooza, have been wildly ambitious, doing little to hide their dreams for eventual world domination. Not that it’s been easy for them: Three years ago, an attempt to bring what would have been their third giant Walmart-style festival out east collapsed under its own weight when they couldn’t secure a site in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, winning them nothing but the enmity of major metropolitan competitors.


Now, like many imperialist Texans before them, the promoters have set their sights to the south: This April, they’ll take a two-day version of their retooled Lollapalooza to Santiago, Chile.

In addition to the usual list of mediocre mainstream acts, corporate figurehead Perry Farrell promises a roster with plenty of local bands, adding, “We are also looking to bring some of those artists out to Chicago for a musical foreign exchange.” (Read: Lollapalooza is likely to have more Chilean groups than Chicago acts when it returns to Grant Park for its seventh year this August. But the festival never has been overly concerned about the Chicago musical community anyway.)

“We are confident a massive music audience is awaiting us in Santiago,” Farrell said in the company’s hype release. “What we are very interested to learn is how widely spread the demographic will be. In Chicago we have hipsters as well as young parents with children in attendance. It is one of the few places in the world where a generation gap doesn’t exist.”

Ah, yes: Lollapalooza, uniting not just generations, but the world.

Meanwhile, TimeOut Chicago can be lauded for being the first local news organization to get most of the candidates for mayor on the record about their opinions on the arts. But, boy, did they blow it with a distressingly lame question about Lollapalooza.

"Do you see Lollapalooza as a boost for the local music scene or a challenge to local venues?" the magazine asked. As you might expect, that query resulted mostly in big fat blasts of political hot air. Far better questions would have been:

What do you think of the Attorney General’s anti-trust investigation of the festival, stemming from its exclusionary radius clauses and the impact those are having on the rest of the Chicago concert scene?

And: Do you think that Lollapalooza’s sweetheart, tax-free deal with the city is bringing all of the money to Chicago that it should be getting?

Alas, TimeOut always has been very friendly with the festival—to the point of “co-sponsoring” it and distributing its publication onsite every year.

In any event, of particular note was the response from Rahm Emanuel: “Chicago is a fantastic city for local music all year round, and the fact that the Lollapalooza festival has chosen to make Chicago its home reflects that. We should work to ensure, however, that local music venues are not adversely impacted by the music festivals and events that come to Chicago.”

No, that doesn’t say more than any of the other candidates did. But what TimeOut didn’t tell its readers is that Emanuel’s brother, as head of the massive William Morris Endeavor talent agency, owns 50 percent of the festival.

As for that exemption from the amusement tax that Lollapalooza continues to enjoy, if you still think it’s insignificant, consider this: As he runs around hat in hand seeking a $200 million loan of public funds to renovate Wrigley Field, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has been stressing that that money and then some would be paid back to taxpayers via the amusement tax—the same levy the city has waived for the Daley administration’s buddies, C3 Presents.

Earlier reports in this blog about Lollapalooza's shenanigans:

Oct. 19: Crain's Agrees: Lollapalooza tax deal warrants scrutiny

Oct. 6: A second look at my Lollapalooza tax math

Oct. 5: Does Austin get a crappy deal from Lollapalooza's "little sister"?

Oct. 4: Is Chicago earning all that it should from Lollapalooza?

July 13: Lollapalooza, liquor sales, and the links to the mayor's nephew

June 29: What's behind the Attorney General's investigation of Lollapalooza?

June 24: Illinois Attorney General investigating Lollapalooza for anti-trust


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