Lollapalooza, the musical playground created by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell in 1991, has evolved into one of America’s most notable music festivals. The Chicago mainstay — which is taking place from Aug. 3-6 in Grant Park this year — began as a multi-city farewell tour for Jane’s which featured acts like Nine Inch Nails, Rollins Band and Ice-T. Unbeknownst to Farrell at the time, the festival would be an immense success leading to the event becoming a yearly occurrence. Despite being cancelled several times due to financial difficulties, the festival found new life in 2005 and eventually became a four-day event in 2016. Before it officially kicks off this year, let’s revisit every epic line-up since Lolla’s inception.
Lollapalooza’s modest but mighty beginnings are laid out perfectly in the inaugural festival line-up. It doesn’t get any more legendary than a bill featuring Jane’s Addiction, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Living Colour and Nine Inch Nails.
Nirvana were scheduled to headline Lollapalooza in 1994, but ultimately withdrew. Instead, the Smashing Pumpkins headlined alongside Beastie Boys, George Clinton and the P-Funk Allstars and A Tribe Called Quest.
This year’s line-up consisted of Sonic Youth as a main-stage headliner as well as Hole (featuring a newly widowed Courtney Love). The late Sinead O’Connor also performed before leaving the tour early, as well as Cypress Hill and Pavement. The late Coolio, Moby and Superchunk appeared on the side stage.
The festival leaned toward heavier musical stylings, with the likes of Metallica and Rancid gracing the bill in 1996. However, the festival was critiqued by fans for the absence of communal vibes that Lollapalooza was previously lauded for and what they believed was the growing presence of corporate sponsorships.
This eclectic line-up featured burgeoning talents like The Prodigy, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Julian and Damian Marley. It would also mark the last Lollapalooza for six years due to the festival taking a break for financial reasons.
Lollapalooza was revived in 2003 with headliners like Jane’s Addiction, Audioslave and Incubus. However, fans shied away from the event because of high ticket prices and the festival was cancelled the following year.
In 2005, Lollapalooza had new financial backers and became a permanent Chicago fixture. Weezer, Arcade Fire and Pixies led the newly rebuilt festival, while acts like Death Cab For Cutie and Dashboard Confessional provided emo vibes.
A two-day format proved so successful in 2006 that in 2007 Lollapalooza transitioned into a three-day format. Farrell raged with his new side-project, Satellite Party, while Daft Punk made a rare appearance and Yeah Yeah Yeahs proved to be a formidable indie facet.
Arctic Monkeys reinforced their promise as indie darlings during this instalment of Lollapalooza, while Tool and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were the split headliners for the same night. The Killers also brought all their hits to headline.
This year’s line-up provided an up close and personal look at the enigmatic Frank Ocean while Jack White and Justice battled it out as headliners for the final night. Farrell also devoted a stage almost exclusively to EDM this year.
The Cure performed for the first time at Lollapalooza, Chance The Rapper brought out the masses, Kendrick Lamar impressed onlookers and Skrillex and Boys Noize teamed up for their join act Dog Blood. An epic line-up, indeed.
2014 marked a decade of Lollapalooza taking place in Grant Park, with the line-up being more rap-friendly than usual. Eminem headlined while acts like Outkast, Nas and Run The Jewels proved to be impressive additions. Lorde, Interpol and Childish Gambino also performed.
Rock impresario Gary Clark Jr. showed off his sheer talent while the one and only Paul McCartney closed out the festival. The Weeknd, Florence And The Machine and FKA Twigs were also a pull for festival goers.
This year marked the beginning of Lollapalooza becoming a 4-day festival. LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead and M83 topped the lineup, in addition to acts like Future, Danny Brown and Haim cemented their performative prowess.
Lollapalooza welcomed back The Killers, Lorde and Chance The Rapper (whose entrance featured a video message from Michelle Obama). Liam Gallagher also performed, although those in attendance believed his attitude marred his performance. There was also the addition of a roller skating rink this year.
Bruno Mars made his Lollapalooza debut (excluding an appearance during Eminem’s set in 2011) while St. Vincent dialled up the weird during her set. LL Cool J reminded attendees why he’s the greatest of all time and Lil Pump’s disastrous set–which featured the emcee arriving 30 minutes late and his DJ’s laptop overheating–went down in infamy.
Lil Wayne fans showed up and showed out for their favourite emcee as Ariana Grande–one of pop’s biggest superstars–delivered hit after hit during her headlining set. J. Balvin also made history as the first Latino headliner in the history of Lollapalooza.
Due to Covid, Lollapalooza at Grant Park was cancelled but offered a digital festival for free instead. Artists like H.E.R., Metallica and Paul McCartney delivered intimate virtual renditions of their most notable songs.
The first Lollapalooza since 2019 did not disappoint. Miley Cyrus’ set was littered with guest appearances (Billy Idol, Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa), while artists like Flo Milli and Kim Petras gained a new legion of followers. Tyler The Creator and Foo Fighters also gave energizing performances.
Punk gods Green Day closed out the 2022 edition of Lolla with an arsenal of hits that felt neverending. Dua Lipa gave it her all in a sequined jumpsuit during her energetic set, while Big Sean got the crowd going (and brought out then-pregnant girlfriend Jhene Aiko during his set). Metallica, who also headlined, brought out the thrashers again after all these years.
Lollapalooza returns bigger and better than ever this year–and the line-up is monumental. Kendrick Lamar will bring the stylings of ‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’ to Grant Park while Red Hot Chili Peppers prove why they are still headliner status four decades after becoming a band. 2023 also marks Tomorrow X Together becoming the first K-pop band to headline the original American festival.