I’ve been a fervent festival fan for years and as one of the biggest music festivals in the U.S., Chicago’s Lollapalooza has always been one of my favorites, but as of this year, I’ve had it with this festival and it’s own perceived self-importance.
I haven’t been to back since 2011 when Coldplay, Eminem, Muse and Foo Fighters headlined. Instead, I opted to try my hand at other local festivals and other national heavy-hitters like Coachella, which was the first festival to host The Postal Service last year. The more in touch I am with festivals, the more I realize that Lollapalooza is more trouble than it’s worth for one simple reason: they don’t respect their fans like other festivals do.
By now, almost everyone knows that the lineup of one summer festival is going to be pretty similar to every other festival going on at the same time. For instance, almost everyone this year is hosting Outkast on their return to the musical stage. So all in all, a trip to Chicago is probably not going to be that much better than one to Montreal or San Francisco or Austin or Manchester. But Lollapalooza is the only big name festival that doesn’t let fans see the full lineup before releasing tickets.
A few years ago, Lollapalooza used to reward fans by selling cheap early bird tickets (sometimes at less than half price) for people who wanted to chance it and buy tickets before the lineup was released, something that other festivals, like Voodoo in New Orleans, also do. The issue with Lollapalooza is that there is no longer a draw to buying early. Early bird tickets (which are now only $25 less than regular tickets) go on sale the same day as regular tickets, all before concert-goers are clued in to who the acts are going to be.
For a variety of reasons, this is pretty upsetting to a long-time festival goer. For one, not everyone that goes to Lollapalooza lives in Chicago. I have to fly and spend a pretty penny on hotels if I want to go to the festival so I want to make sure I’m pretty amped about the lineup before going through that. Without knowing the lineup in advance, I probably won’t buy tickets, meaning I’ll be shut out from getting them at all, as they usually sell pretty quickly. But their cheap tricks aren’t going to work to get me to jump on the bandwagon. I’m older, wiser, and more careful with my money and especially my time.
Festivals make it harder and harder to sell unwanted wristbands, for good reason, because it prevents scalping. But if I was one of the poor souls that bought tickets at 11 am and was disappointed to find that the rumored lineup is true, I would either be stuck with a $300 ticket I won’t use or I’d have to go through the trouble of unloading it on someone else, hopefully for the same price I bought it. I simply don’t have the time or the interest to try to do that, especially when there are plenty of other festivals with better lineups that still have tickets available – festivals that had the decency to announce to fans what they would actually be shelling out several hundred dollars to see. Osheaga, which is the same weekend as Lollapalooza in Montreal, had an interactive game which allowed fans to uncover clues to the bands in the lineup for days before tickets went on sale. Bonnaroo held lineup announcement watch parties across the country, giving away tickets and getting the fans excited about the festival the day before tickets went on sale. That’s how you should treat fans. And Bonnaroo snagged Elton John, to boot. Skrillex cannot compete with that.
Lollapalooza is simply no longer as epic as its own hype. It’s clear with the way they sell tickets that their priority is making money on the hopes of music fans across the country, without even giving them a choice. Now that tickets are sold out, from one music fan to another, I hope the line-up was worth your time and money.