Lineage of Lollapalooza

The history of Chicago’s biggest party


Cassie Testyon

City skyline at Lollapalooza.

As summer has come to a close, you’ve probably noticed while scrolling through your Instagram feed some similar looking pictures. Most are filled with bright colors, water bottle packs, and people on shoulders. If you didn’t guess it already, this is Lollapalooza.

Every year hundreds of thousands of music lovers, including many  Glenbard West students, head on down to Grant Park to enjoy some funky tunes in funky outfits. However, not many people know how this wild and lively tradition started.

The 25- year-old festival was founded by Perry Farrell, the lead singer for the alternative band Jane’s Addiction. The tour was born at the peak of grunge and thrived on the angsty alternative music that defined the time. Some of the most recognizable artists of the 90s headlined at the festival, including Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Ice Cube, and Pearl Jam. In fact, in 1994 Nirvana was scheduled to headline at the festival but cancelled one day after finding lead singer, Kurt Cobain’s, dead body with a suicide note. In 1997, when Metallica was introduced to the festival, Farrell argued that the band and its fans ruined the  atmosphere of the festival and quit the tour, ultimately leading to the tour’s shut down for six years. In 2003, Farrell revived the tour festival and traveled across the nation to cities like Cincinnati Ohio, Atlanta Georgia,Phoenix Arizona, and of course, Chicago Illinois. After finding their biggest success in Chicago, a deal was made with the city and Lollapalooza found its permanent home in the Windy City.       

Since its large success in America’s second city, Lollapalooza has expanded internationally. The festival first expanded to Chile’s capital, Santiago, in 2010. After having success with a Latin American audience the tour also soon expanded to Sao Paulo, Brazil and Bueno Aires, Argentina.  In 2014 the festival moved across seas to Berlin and most recently to Paris in 2017. Still, Chicago still holds the largest audience at around four hundred thousand a year.         

At Lollapalooza people enjoy a variety of live music with a wide selection of genre- this year’s headliner including Chance the Rapper, The Killers, Muse, Arcade Fire, The XX, Lorde, Blink 182, and DJ-Snake and embrace the crazy bright fashions of the festival and the overall lively vibe. When polling 25 Glenbard West student who attended the event, 13 said their favorite part of the festival was the music, 6 said fashion, and 6 said the atmosphere.

As Glenbard West students dive back into the school year, the Lolla photos will fade into Circle Drive photos and then Homecoming photos, and students will continue to look forward to hearing next year’s lineups and planning next year’s trip to this historical festival.