The theme from Star Wars roared across Grant Park in Chicago
as thousands of music fans entered the festival grounds of Lollapalooza
2005. The choice of music to signal the start of Lollapalooza was
more than a little fun by the sound engineers, it was an ominous
signal of the epoch event about to take place.
Lollapalooza mastermind Perry Ferrell, Lollapalooza is his way of
staying in love with the world. This year he wanted to embrace the
mainstream more than in past years. Ferrell’s unwavering dedication
to Lollapalooza and getting the event back on its feet is inspiring.
But, many of the young revelers didn’t know of Ferrell, never
listened to Jane’s Addiction or Porno For Pyros and had certainly
never been to a Lollapalooza before. So this was a clean slate,
a fresh canvas for Ferrell and concert organizers SBC Communications,
to paint the future of music festivals and create a positive, brilliant
The city of Chicago provided the
ideal backdrop for the 2-day festival held July 23-24. The city
employees, medical workers, volunteers and police all proved to
be more than hospitable and truly helped bring a community vibe
to the big event.
For almost 11 hours a day, music
fans were entertained non-stop by up-and-coming rock bands, world-renowned
DJs, radio favorites and Lolla alumni.
Hometown boys, The Redwalls and Swedish
rockers, The International Noise Conspiracy, kicked off the weekend.
Both of these relatively unknown bands helped to set the high-energy
tone for the weekend.
Redwalls proved that it is never too hot to wear retro leather.
On the East stage The International
Noise Conspiracy, between roaring politically-driven tunes, discussed
how early is too early to drink beer, gave new meaning to choreographed
head banging and editorialized about President Bush and what a “fucker”
The venue consisted of 5 stages.
Four stages were located on the main concert field and would alternate
between East and West. If you stood in the middle you could hear
both bands simultaneously. Not quite a mash-up set from performer
DJ Muggs, but not a huge distraction from the overall music, either.
else could you hear Billy Idol for three songs, bounce over to Blonde
Redhead, then wander back across the field just in time for Primus?
Of course, some performers couldn’t help but comment on the
overlap. Cake frontman John McCrea requested that his sound engineer
turn their volume down as a goodwill gesture toward The Bravery
who were playing on the opposite stage.
Saturday’s highlights from
the main stages included …And You Will Know Us By the Trail
of Dead, Dashboard Confessional, Billy Idol, Pixies, Liz Phair,
Cake, Primus and Weezer.
The two smaller stages showcased
less known acts that often overshadowed their big stage rivals.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre blew out Dashboard Confessional, Blonde
Redhead rivaled Billy Idol and the Digable Planets reunited to bring
incredible energy and hip-hop to Lolla providing a necessary reprieve
from the routine rock bands that lined the Saturday schedule.
The Planet Stage, the fifth and most
remote stage, was the diamond in the rough of Lollapalooza 2005.
Those that ventured across Columbus Ave. to The Planet Stage were
rewarded for their extra efforts. Clean Port-a-Johns, no beer or
water lines, the amazing art/music installation Eye Candy and some
of the more progressive and unique music of the festival.
line-up at the Planet Stage opened with Hard-Fi, The Dead 60s, VHS
or Beta and then turned into a dance party with the remainder of
the day dedicated to the DJ. DJ sets from former Cypress Hill DJ,
DJ Muggs , Z-Trip and Mushroom Jazz compilation architect Mark Farina
finished out the night. With about 3% of the festival-goers at this
stage, every performance was intimate, making it feel like it’s
Sunday at The Planet State was a
Mecca for music fans trying to steer clear of bands featured on
the O.C. or men wearing make-up. The Los Amigos Invisibles, a disco-Latin-funk
band from Venezuela added even more heat to the already scorching
afternoon. Their music was so danceable that even in 104-degree
heat, the small crowd kept moving.
to hit the Planet Stage was Soulive. This jazz/funk trio is a must-see
headliner at most jazz or jamband festivals, but people were either
melting, stuck in the cooling buses provided by the city, passed
out in the medical tent or checking out Perry Ferrell’s new
band Satellite Party. Drummer Alan Evans started off the set with
a mild complaint about the weather then proceeded to lead Soulive
in an amazing set. If the heat was affecting their performance,
the crowd did not care.
The 5:30-6:30 PM time-slot was the
most jam-packed with “must see” bands. G. Love &
Special Sauce, The Arcade Fire and Sound Tribe Sector 9 did not
have to compete much for an audience because the few shade spots
and city cooling busses with air conditioning were drawing the biggest
crowds. Although this was a shame for the bands, those that braved
the heat were given performances not to be forgotten.
Sound Tribe Sector 9 represented
the livetronica scene at Lolla by harnessing the energy of the city
and the event. Their positive vibrations and intentional ambient
grooves filled the event with the communal jamming found at many
festivals that was missing from Lolla thus far. The heat seemed
to dissapate for the 75 minutes STS9 were on stage. There were smiles
all-around as the crowd grooved with the music.
the street at the SBC East stage, the Arcade Fire was also doing
their part to increase the energy of the fest and revive the heat-beaten
crowd. In a moment of choreographed violence, a fight broke out
on stage contrasting the serious peacefulness that permeated their
With the temperatures still over
100 degrees the evening shows started with southern jam rockers
Widespread Panic. Most fans braved the weather to come out to hear
the first set from WSP. Different from the usual WSP show, fans
were treated to The Killers during set break. The Dandy Warhols
also played between sets and drew quite a crowd of loyal fans. Unfortunately,
local DJ Derrick Carter, performing on the Planet Stage, did not
see the crowds. The draw to the other stages and wear of the heat
stopped most revelers from attending his 90 minute set. The few
that made it were not disappointed, had plenty of room to dance
and could even play Frisbee in all the space.
2005 ended with an hour-long set from Death Cab for Cutie and a
90-minute, high intensity set from Widespread Panic who put the
finishing touches on a unique and amazing weekend.
Singing, laughing and dancing could
be seen and heard from all the fans flowing out of Grant Park after
the last notes of Lolla 05 ended. Musicians and fans proved that
above all, music could bring the masses together. Some were there
to party, some to dance, some to see bands they were curious about,
still other were not sure what they would find. Critics will talk,
accountants will punch numbers, city councilors will complain, but
there is no doubt that the experiment that was Lollapalooza 2005
was a tremendous success that should be duplicated year after year.
To see more of Jon's Lollapalooza
photos, visit the gallery...