Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lollapalooza Line-Up Lacks Wow Factor

By Evan Rytlewski
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The online response to today's Lollapalooza line-up announcement was almost universally unenthusiastic, and while it doesn't take too much to make the Internet grumble, the line-up really does lack the wow factor expected from a summer music festival of its size.

Even though its loaded with indie-rock A-listers (The Decemberists, Neko Case, Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend, TV on the Radio, Fleet Foxes, etc, etc, etc, etc), most of these acts have toured hard in the last year, so they offer little novelty. The headliners, meanwhile, are more Meineke Car Care Bowl than Rose Bowl. Depeche Mode, God love 'em, were likely grandfathered in by age and aren't particularly renowned for their live show, and though Tool has their fans they lack the broad reach of a Radiohead, or the popularity and relevance of a Green Day.

People go to these music festivals to see names that they couldn't normally see (or couldn't afford to see). Coachella for instance, had Paul McCartney this year, and has offered Prince and Madonna in the past. Lollapalooza, in comparison, is offering Kings of Leon. And Jane's Addiction, because Lollapalooza's been lacking Perry Farrell in years past.

Since the festival was founded primarily as a celebration of alternative music, I can't blame it for eschewing big names in popthough a Justin Timberlake of Kelly Clarkson would have been nice. But this year's line-up doesn't even have much in the way of rap, something it once prided itself on, offering only The Beastie Boys and Snoop Dogg, two welcome but perhaps overly familiar hanger-ons from the '90s. Atmosphere and Asher Roth are buried downbill, but there's nothing in the same league as a Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Dr. Dre or Eminem.

One big caveat: There's always the possibly Lollapalooza is withholding a big headliner or two, banking them for a last-minute spike in ticketsales. But for now, the festival has lined-up plenty of decent acts, but almost none worth writing home about.

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