Amid Rising Concerns and Competition, Can Headliners Save Lollapalooza?
Lollapalooza 2018 boasts a star-studded lineup, but competition and security concerns have slowed ticket sales this year. This summer’s festival will occupy Chicago’s Grant Park from August 2nd to the 5th with big named artists headlining each day. Performances by The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, and Travis Scott will attract over 400K music fans to the lake shore this year. The 2018 lineup could potentially be one of Lollapalooza’s strongest.
The Weeknd, only 28 years old, is no stranger to the summer festival stage. He has built a considerable discography since his 2012 studio album, Kiss Land, and his top hits like, “Starboy,” and “Party Monster” will make an exciting set. Fans can also expect to hear some of his latest EP, My Dear Melancholy, which features songs that return to the brooding emotions that characterized the artist’s early days.
Bruno Mars, known for his swaggering, luxurious hits, “Finesse” and “That’s What I Like,” will have no trouble making Grant Park crowds move when he takes the stage. At this year’s Grammy Awards Ceremony, Mars won three of the highest awards during the evening: Song of The Year, Record of The Year, and Album of the Year- with his album, 24K Magic, solidifying his status as one of today’s biggest names in music. While critics may grumble that The Grammy’s once again failed to recognize groundbreaking artists like Kendrick Lamar (DAMN) and Childish Gambino (Awaken, My Love!), who garnered more critical acclaim and took more risks in 2017, Mars’s bubbly Pop-R&B sound, is difficult to ignore.
Jack White, having released his latest album, Boarding House Reach, last month, will take the main stage to provide a rock show full of the unique lyricism and guitar playing he is known for. White’s new album combines his love for stripped down, simple sounds, with the modern effects of drum loops and synthesizers. Fans can expect this new combination to create a surreal experience at this year’s festival.
Offering even more for rock fans are Arctic Monkeys. They have come together for a reunion tour ahead of the release of a brand new album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. The album, set for release May 11th, via Domino Records Co., was co-produced by frontman, Alex Turner and longtime collaborator, James Ford.
With these and many more stars headlining the popular festival, it may come as a surprise that ticket sales this year have been slower than ever. In years past, weekend passes have sold out in a matter of minutes, even before lineups were released. This year, four day passes went on sale March 20th, and were still available five days later. Lollapalooza expanded from three to four days in 2016, making it even more difficult to find enough acts to fill each stage. Competition with other festivals, and a dwindling pool of headliners are factors that may be contributing to slower ticket sales. This year, Bruno Mars is the only headliner who has not played the festival before.
Perhaps, the greatest challenge Lollapalooza faces is the newly relevant concern over safety. Festival goers are wearier than ever of security issues due to recent violence at other concerts around the world. The Las Vegas shooter was reported to have reserved a room overlooking Grant Park last year but did not use it. Only a few weeks later he was at a hotel in Las Vegas, where he committed the deadly shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. C3 Presents, the promotion group that plans and organizes Lollapalooza Chicago, wants to assure everyone that security is their number one concern. Each year, promoters meet with Chicago law enforcement to discuss ways of bolstering security in the park.
Since 2005, Lollapalooza brings in millions of dollars to the Chicago Park District and the city’s economy in general. While far from perfect, the festival has been a staple of Chicago culture, connecting music lovers with their favorite artists, and introducing them to new ones. In order to remain relevant for years to come, the festival must evolve. Only by taking steps to upgrade security and safety, and finding ways of delivering unique experiences to audiences will Lollapalooza keep from fading away.