Lollapalooza's Lineup is Boring: Here's the Crappy Formula They Used

Categories: Festivals

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OH GOOD THESE GUYS.
Coacapalaroo Festival is new to the United States this year. No, "lying on the internet day" was Monday. Instead, the three major US alternative music festivals, Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo, all seem to have shared the same bookers this year. They may as well be an extremely large touring festival given the variation between acts. The homogenous, indistinguishable nature of the line-ups is pretty weird to me. I know there's a "festival circuit" that bands go on, but the centralization of line-ups this year is really quite something. Are these festivals victims of their own success, constantly pushed to justify an increasing ticket cost and attendance numbers? Or did the bookers simply hibernate and then panic?

In fact, there is something of a formula to booking any major US festival right now, it would seem. It makes for the same boring line-up, the same acts and clichéd spots being repeated over and over again to the point where the alternative becomes mainstream, where it's impossible to distinguish between the bulk of the line-up. These are meant to be the three big alternative contained-space outdoor festivals (not a city takeover like 35D or SXSW). Alternative should mean bookers taking chances, booking a fascinating line-up, and booking interesting acts all the way down the bill. Here are a few of the traps the big alternative US festivals seem to have fallen into.


Book the flavor of the month - Baaeur appears at two of the three festivals, and you know he's only there to do one thing, and it's going to be awful. Alternative festivals, guys, alternative. Not YouTube companions. Thankfully, the Rise of Psy came too early to be in festival circuit demand.


Book the flavor of the year to headline - Mumford and Sons will bring their indistinguishable brand of soft rock to close out days at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza in a fit of lowest common denominator, widest possible current appeal booking. Sure, they're huge right now. But headlining those two festivals? Really? Don't you want a band with more than one popular album to do that? A band whose Wikipedia entry doesn't begin "Early years: 2007-2008." I have pasta older than that.


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15 comments
fhilly03
fhilly03

In theory, I agree with you about many points, but I think you overlook a lot of things.. as someone who has worked in the music industry, there are particular reasons WHY the same bands are often booked for these "unique" festivals. The inner-workings of the music industry, particularly when dealing with the limited amount of major labels representing artists, is often closed-minded- not corrupt but not entirely authentic. There are many good bands and artists performing at these festivals, but the reason you see all of the same ones is because these festivals are run by the same promoters who have formulas that work, and do attract hundreds of thousands of concert goers who eat it up. Many of these acts are different, unique, and employ elements that are more on the side of being good music rather than appealing to fads; yet, it's not like the festivals just randomly book acts they like and appreciate. It's the concert promoters and their cooperation with the music labels that they have established relationships with to determine who's playing- and that's why it's become so similar and boring. These festivals may have once been unique and focused on being all about the music, but this isn't some new phenomenon; many events evolve this way, especially when "alternative" music has become more mainstream and these festivals have also more often featured more "pop" stars. So yes, I agree that the formulas and homogeneity is awful, but your digs at the specifics here are a little misguided and seem a bit pretentious; it's best to understand how the music industry and labels work a little (As if this were easy!) before attempting to dissect its effects. But I'm glad someone's writing about this!

TarnishedTiara
TarnishedTiara

Dude, Mumford and Sons are NOT softrock!  Have you ever freakin' listened to them?  They're indie folk all the way!  Soft rock is Celine Dion,Michael Bolton, the Carpenters, need I give more examples? Don't hate the band because they're headlining all the major festivals.  They are a festival band!  Hello!  Have you never heard of Glastonbury?  Last year when they toured the US it was during the Gentlemen of the Road stopovers, 2 day music festivals.  So, get over yourself.  Wait, I guess you can't, you're just too effing cool for that.

garlandsucks
garlandsucks

nice to see DO turning on mumford and sons....hipster trash writers

garlandsucks
garlandsucks

thanks to all you hipster tit sucking lemmings this is what we get no interesting big summer tours even come through dallas anymore.

rjasonbonner
rjasonbonner

It's so passe to hate on McCartney's solo output. There's more good than bad and he has several songs that would have made anyone's career without having been in the beatles. People think that it's conventional wisdom of the new histories to think all of his post beatles output is careerist shit, but that history is absolutely the talk from the 90's. Go buy McCartney or Ram and get with the times.  Better than Brian Wilson. I guess we'd think different if McCartney would've made himself retarded on drugs. (although maybe drugs had something to do with Give My Regards to Broadstreet).

monstruss
monstruss

What the fuck is Will Ferrell doing in Red Hot Chili Peppers?

george.p
george.p

coachella and lollpalooza have seemingly always done this kind of stuff...check out the lineups for bonnaroo from 02, 03, 04, is this really the same festival??

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

Your problem seems to lie with your premise of things like "These festivals are meant to be all-encompassing, genre-blind, and have something for everyone" and your repeated use of the word "alternative."

According to who? Because the only thing I can see these things are about is separating as much cash from people while treating them like human cattle. 

ChrisYu
ChrisYu topcommenter

over time none of these festivals ever retain their original charm.

RDSD
RDSD

Major festivals suck for booking newly popular bands, somewhat recently popular bands, and older popular bands. Noted.

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

Why punch a cute animal, perhaps you could wrestle a sloth instead if those guys from Point Break play another festival?  It's not the animal's fault for being cute or booking the festivals.

garlandsucks
garlandsucks

@rjasonbonner im named after the guy and even I cringe at 99% of the solo stuff..he was the best beatle though

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