Lollapalooza's Chicago party heavy on hip-hop


March 17, 2006


AUSTIN, Texas -- Delivering on the promise they made after last year's otherwise spectacularly successful festival, the promoters of the now-Chicago-based Lollapalooza have embraced musical diversity in 2006 as the concert expands to three days, Aug. 4-6, and spans 69 acres of Grant Park, from Hutchinson Field to the Petrillo Music Shell.

The biggest coups among this year's bookings are local hip-hop superstars Kanye West and Common. Although they've sold millions of albums, neither has played a hometown show near the size of Lollapalooza, and Grant Park has never hosted a major rap concert. The festival will be the largest celebration of the city's hip-hop accomplishments.

Other top draws include Chicago alternative country/art-rock heroes Wilco; Lollapalooza veterans the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sonic Youth; darlings of "The O.C.," Death Cab for Cutie; stoner rockers Queens of the Stone Age; Oklahoma psychedelic popsters the Flaming Lips; the chart-topping Hasidic reggae/hip-hop artist Matisyahu, and Spanish artist Manu Chao, who has been hailed for his mix of rock, French chanson, salsa, reggae, ska and Algerian rai.

The nearly 130 acts were announced Thursday by Perry Farrell, the former leader of Jane's Addiction, who founded Lollapalooza in 1991 as a daylong traveling alternative rock festival. Coinciding with the South by Southwest Music Conference, the news conference was held in Austin, home base of primary promoters Capital Sports & Entertainment, who boasted of "revitalizing the Lollapalooza brand" and stressed the diversity of this year's bill.

"This is a kick-ass lineup!" said Farrell, who sported a tuxedo jacket once owned by Fred Astaire. Added Capital Sports CEO Charlie Jones: "We are really interested in reaching out to as many people as possible, including all of Chicago's different music communities."

In addition to making a stronger effort to include hip-hop, the promoters have embraced the jam-band crowd with acts such as Umphrey's McGee, Blues Traveler, the Disco Biscuits and transplanted Chicagoans Poi Dog Pondering.

Other Chicago acts include the Smoking Popes, Andrew Bird, the Redwalls and the M's -- a relatively tiny sampling from the vast well of local talent, and the only significant criticism of an otherwise impressive lineup. Jones and talent booker Charles Attal emphasized that "this is a national festival," though they said a few more local artists may be announced in coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the full list of other performers includes the Raconteurs, Ween, the Shins, Ryan Adams, Thievery Corporation, Sleater-Kinney, Nickel Creek, Broken Social Scene, the New Pornographers, Iron & Wine, Coheed and Cambria, the Secret Machines, the Eels, Panic! at the Disco, She Wants Revenge, the Dresden Dolls, the Rev. Horton Heat, Gnarls Barkley, Stars, Cursive, Blackalicious, Editors, Lyrics Born, Lady Sovereign, Hard-Fi, Calexico, Nada Surf, Feist, Aqualung, the Frames, the Hold Steady, the Go! Team, Mates of State, Pepper and Particle.

Also: Mute Math, Wolfmother, Sparta, the Subways, Of Montreal, Blue October, Jeremy Enigk, Living Things, Sound Team, Hot Chip, the Benevento-Russo Duo, Matt Costa, the New Amsterdams, deadboy & the Elephantmen, Sybris, Anathallo, the Burden Brothers, What Made Milwaukee Famous, Manishevitz, Husky Rescue, the Towers of London, Ohmega Watts, Boy Kill Boy, Jim Noir, the Standard, Be Your Own Pet, Elvis Perkins, Trevor Hall and Midlake.

The promoters admit they lost money last year in their attempt to reinvent Lollapalooza as a destination festival in Grant Park, paying top dollar to the artists, sparing no expense on fan amenities and raising $400,000 for park improvements. But they consider the loss an investment in building an annual -- and presumably eventually profitable -- world-class music fest.

A share of the proceeds will once again go to the nonprofit Parkways Foundation, the philanthropic partner of the Chicago Park District. Jones said he won't consider Lollapalooza 2006 successful if he doesn't raise at least $800,000 for the city parks.

Promoters are hoping to draw 75,000 fans per day to Grant Park, more than double the 30,000 who attended each day last year, though the size of the concert site has also doubled.

Despite the wealth of talent, tickets are once again priced at $130 for a three-day pass -- or about a buck a band -- on sale now via the concert's Web site,