Tag Archives: Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza Gets Green with Gaga

13 Aug

The entrance to Lollapalooza at Grant Park in Chicago

REPORTING FROM CHICAGO — With one of the most musically diverse festival lineups of the summer, Lollapalooza took over Grant Park in Chicago for the sixth year in a row on Aug. 6, 7, and 8. With 115 acres, 35 more than last year, Lollapalooza attracted 80,000 attendees per day. By adding acreage, the festival was said to have increased its selling capacity by 10 to 15 percent.

The 152-artist weekend included the likes of soul singer Raphael Saadiq, Eighties throwback DEVO, Austin indie darlings Spoon along with The xx, Metric, Kaskade, MGMT, Nneka, Erykah Badu and Cypress Hill. Headliners played simultaneously on the Budweiser and Parkways Foundation stages, which were at opposite ends of the park. Over a mile separated the two stages, so attendees were faced with tough decisions each night. Friday headliners were rockers The Strokes and dance-pop queen Lady Gaga; Saturday’s were the upbeat French group Phoenix and veteran punk band Green Day, and Sunday’s were the orchestral indie Canadians Arcade Fire versus 90s grunge band Soundgarden.

Festival sponsor F.Y.E. hosted an autograph tent on the northern end of the park, and organized autograph signings for fans with 49 of the weekend’s artists. F.Y.E. was brought on as a sponsor in 2007 when the local Virgin Megastore closed and now handles all CD and DVD sales for all bands in addition to doing the autograph sessions.

“Our lineup for signings has been incredible this year. Sales-wise, this is our best year so far,” said Shaun Smith, events supervisor at Trans World Entertainment, which operates F.Y.E. stores. Smith noted that the most popular meet and greet session was MGMT. Other favorites included The National, Phoenix and Spoon, who each attracted over 300 people.

Other festival sponsors included Sony, which set up the Bloggie Borrow Bar, where attendees could rent an HD camera for free and upload their videos online. H2O was Lollapalooza’s official water sponsor, chosen because of their product’s sustainable packaging. Rather than petroleum-based plastic bottles, h2O uses paper from managed forests and water-based ink in its packaging.

Chicago Chef Graham Elliot Bowles, owner of the local restaurant Graham Elliot, was culinary director for Chow Town, Lollapalooza’s two-street food court. Food vendors included local restaurants such as Big Star, The Southern, and Kuma’s Corner. Big Star offered elote (corn-on-the-cob) for $5, tostada de panza ($7), and coctel de frutas ($5). The Southern offered hush puppies with buttermilk ranch ($6), sweet potato fries with spicy ketchup ($6), and shrimp cocktail with peach sauce ($8); and Kuma’s Corner offered the Kuma Burger (bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg), Judas Priest burger (bacon, bleu cheese dressing with apples, walnuts and dried cranberries), and Iron Maiden burger (avocado, cherry peppers, pepper jack, and chipotle mayo), for $10 each. The most popular of the food booths at Lollapalooza, Kuma’s, cooked over 2,000 pounds of bacon within the three-day period. While many vendors had to undergo an application process, Kuma’s was personally invited by Graham Elliot and selected from an online reader’s poll of favorite Chicago restaurants.

“I think there was a benefit in terms of being exposed to a wide variety of people that haven’t heard of us or haven’t been able to make it out to the restaurant,” said Executive Chef Luke Tobias. “We were busy from noon to close, all three days. We sold a lot of burgers.”

Festival organizer C3 Presents implemented a number of environmental initiatives throughout the park. In addition to having h2O as a sponsor, there were eight water refill stations at Lollapalooza where attendees could refill any container with cold, fresh water. The stations were provided by Event Water Solutions, and cost $2,000 per unit, per day.

Emily Stengel, the Green Street production manager working for C3 Presents, explained that the refill stations were a last-minute addition to the festival, but were ultimately very effective.

“It was a huge step for greening Lollapalooza, even though it was added late in the game,” said Stengel. The refill stations filled enough water bottles to save 204,200 bottles. Near the main entrance of the festival, C3 Presents set up Green Street, a strip of vendors and booths dedicated to the themes of sustainability and fair trade. C3 also favored Chicago-based vendors in their selection process. Chicago-based clothing company Demographic and jewelry vendor Beads of Hope Africa were two companies at the event, whose owners both agreed that the large scale of the event and amount of exposure benefited them. “Nothing can touch this,” said John Ritter, co-owner of Demographic. “A normal street fair in Chicago will probably be between 2,000 and 5,000 people, so the sheer number of people [at Lollapalooza] is incredible.”

Since 2005, Lollapalooza has teamed with Parkways Foundation, the philanthropic partner of the Chicago Park District to raise over $5 million. This year, 10.25 percent of the event’s gross revenue will go to the foundation, and in 2009, C3 Presents and Parkways Foundation signed an agreement that will continue this alliance at least through 2018.

“It’s not just coming in as a large-scale music festival and then pulling out and leaving everything to be repaired. Rather, the idea is that Lollapalooza comes to town and it leaves Chicago a better place,” said Brenda Palms, executive director of Parkways Foundation.

To get attendees more involved with the “greening” of Lollapalooza, C3 Presents set up Rock and Recycle centers where patrons could get bags to fill with recyclables such as aluminum cans and plastic bottles. One full bag could be redeemed for a Lollapalooza T-shirt and a chance to win an Origin 8 bicycle. In order to operate the program, C3 designated 85 of its 300 Lollapalooza volunteers to run the booths and give out about 3,000 T-shirts.

“I think this year we took some major strides, and they proved to be successful so I’m really excited to see what the future brings and how we can become more environmentally friendly,” said Stengel. — Linda Domingo

Interviewed for this article: Shaun Smith (518) 452-1242; Luke Tobias (773) 604-8769; Emily Stengel (512) 294-1752; Brenda Palms (312) 742-4804

Lolla Day 3…Cornell Gets All Spoonman On Us

9 Aug

By LiDo

Day 3 of Lollapalooza 2010 started off unlike the previous two – with a gloomy rain cloud over our heads. The light sprinkle was a nice reprieve after two days in the sun, but it didn’t last long, and unfortunately I witnessed no playing in the mud a la Woodstock.

Watching indie rock group Minus the Bear was the perfect way to spend an hour of the afternoon, before grabbing some grub and checking out the effortless groove of Erykah Badu, the experimental sounds of MGMT, and then being transported back to the 90s with Cypress Hill and Soundgarden wrapping up the long weekend.

A stark contrast to Lady Gaga’s show that included props, backup dancers, crazy lighting effects, and pyrotechnics, Soundgarden banged out their old hits with nothing but their instruments, raw vocals and lots of hair. Even the video screens were a vintage black and white, putting the crowd in a perfectly dark and angsty mood. Frontman Chris Cornell said that this was their “millionth time” playing Lollapalooza, but the band’s performance was powerful enough to have been their first.


9 Aug

We did a double-take when we first saw this photo. The scantily-dressed blondie on the right is pop-star Lady Gaga. She jumped in the mosh pit at Lollapalooza during a set by Semi Precious Weapons, a New York based band that opened for Gaga on parts of her Monster Ball Tour.

Forecastle Festival Takes Slow Road to Success

27 Jul

Brit Daniels of Spoon rocks the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky.

There are two paths to festival success: open big or grow slow. While festivals like Bonnaroo and the rebooted Lollapalooza came out of the gate with impressive lineups in large-scale settings, the modest Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky., has slowly built a grassroots audience over nine years as its lineup and footprint have steadily expanded.

From July 9-11, more than 27,000 people filled 90-acre Riverfront Park in Louisville to hear Smashing Pumpkins, Spoon, Flaming Lips and Widespread Panic.

“The main thing that’s helped us is a grassroots following and having a unique story,” said festival founder JK McKnight, who has grown the event from a free local music gathering for 500 in 2002 to a national festival that draws attendees from nearly every state. “A lot of other festivals are started with a group of investors and businessmen who are basing it on profit potential, which is great. But we have a totally different story. We started off with nothing.”

McKnight said it cost around $1.5 million to put on the show in 2010, with 65 percent of that money going to the talent and the rest going to build the infrastructure for the site, which included erecting a power grid, bringing in water sources and staging. He didn’t release the gross for this year’s event, but said the goal is to eventually draw between 30,000 and 35,000 attendees. The event costs $150 for a three-day pass and $75 for a weekend camping spot.

Over the years, McKnight has hosted such national acts as Sleater-Kinney, Umphrey’s McGee, Girl Talk, Dr. Dog, Band of Horses and the Black Crowes. He’s also watched as his initial vision of creating camaraderie among local musicians has blossomed into a three-day festival that garners national press, with headline-worthy talent booked by Nederlander Entertainment.

The first Forecastle took place in 15-acre Frederick Olmsted-designed Tyler Park in July 2002, as a free event meant to celebrate the city’s diverse music community, put on by a then 21-year-old McKnight. With just $500 in overhead to produce the event, all the talent performed for free and the infrastructure was donated for a show that drew several hundred fans.

The next year, McKnight invited local visual artists to join in and an environmental element was added as the fest’s attendance tripled. In 2005, McKnight raised $60,000 to cover the costs, securing sponsorships from Patagonia and Red Bull, as well as local businesses for a show that attracted 5,000.

The show grew to two days in 2006 with headline acts including Sleater-Kinney, whose announcement of a split shortly after agreeing to play helped sell thousands of tickets overnight and garnered mentions for Forecastle in the New York Times, CNN, Billboard and MTV.

By 2009 an exclusive partnership with Nederlander was in place to help with booking and management, which resulted in attendance of 23,000 people from 44 states and six countries for the 2010 shows.

“We loved where he was going with it and we felt this was unique,” said Steve Liberatore, VP of Programming and Business Development at Nederlander Entertainment, which signed with the festival in 2009.

Liberatore would not discuss the talent budget, but said he spent “considerably” more than in 2009 and that the agents he worked with were fair with their guarantees, especially for acts who weren’t necessarily in their touring cycle. He also said that while there was no profit this year, Nederlander is confident that after a growth cycle, it has built an infrastructure that can result in profits in the future. — Gil Kaufman

Interviewed for this article: JK McKnight, (502) 472-7555; Steve Liberatore, (513) 421-4111