Celebrate the First Day of Lolla 2016 with 19 Videos from 19 Lollapaloozas
One from every year of the festival's history.
The 2016 edition of Lollapalooza kicks off today in Chicago’s Grant Park, the festival’s home since 2005. It’s the eleventh straight year that Perry Farrell’s massive garden party takes over Chicago’s Front Lawn, making it one of the longest-running annual music festivals in the country.
It’s also the twenty-fifth anniversary of the festival’s 1991 founding, when Farrell’s band Jane’s Addiction staged the original alt-rock traveling carnival around their farewell tour. The festival would continue in its traveling format until 1997, bringing freaks and weirdoes together in suburban enclaves across the country in a way that had never been done before.
Though the festival hiccuped its way through a 2003 tour, a particularly strong lineup—including Morrissey, PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth, Wilco, The Flaming Lips, and more—signed up for a 2004 trek, but poor ticket sales grounded the tour before it began.
Once it found its home in Grant Park, though, the mega-fest quickly established itself as one of the biggest stages in the nation.
In celebration of all that history, take a look below at a single performance from all nineteen iterations of Lollapalooza.
Butthole Surfers — “Graveyard” (1991)
The Butthole Surfers doing a song from a record called Locust Abortion Technician in a suburban town in the middle of the day in 1991 for thousands of people is the best case for Lollapalooza’s early incarnation as an incubator of alternative culture; how else would the Texas weirdoes have found a sustainable audience? How else would any of those kids have seen anything quite like this?
Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell — “Hunger Strike” (1992)
By the time Lolla ’92 rolled into the Desert Sky Pavilion in Phoenix, Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike” had already gone Top Five in the US. Even with the band reuniting to play shows this fall, you won’t see Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell duetting on the band’s biggest single, and you certainly won’t see a performance this intimate.
Alice in Chains — “Dam That River” (1993)
Alternative nation was a fully realized republic when Lolla ’93 hit the road. Alice in Chains, whose seminal Dirt had hit the previous year, got dramatic with a stage scrim that dropped at the beginning of that album’s “Dam That River.”
Green Day — “Chump” and “Welcome to Paradise” (1994)
Believe it or not, there was a time when Green Day could play to a small and largely unimpressed crowd. Didn’t stop Billie Joe & Co. from ripping through a pair of Dookie standouts with the same snotty vigor they’d bring to the main stage at Woodstock ’94 that summer.
Courtney Love — “Doll Parts” and “Softer Softest” (1995)
Courtney Love was still reeling from the death of Kurt Cobain when Hole played Lolla ’95. This version of a pair of Live Through This’s singles can be difficult to watch, but it’s still empowering to Love lay herself on the line in front of so many people.
The Ramones — “Blitzkrieg Bop” (1996)
The ’96 incarnation of Lolla was widely viewed as the retirement party for the punk godfathers, who played one final show after the tour wrapped in Irvine, CA, in early August.
Tool — “Ænema” (1997)
Quite possibly the only time someone in Bonner Springs, Kansas, has ever referenced high colonics and Karl Jung before launching into a song about California drifting off into the ocean.
Following a half-decade hiatus, Lollapalooza returned as a touring concern in 2003 with a lineup that failed to match the excitement of its alt-era heights. Still, the fest did capture Incubus at the tail end of their height, where they briefly made the case for themselves as heirs to Shudder to Think’s cyanide pop.
Pixies — “Debaser” (2005)
The ultimate alt-rock band never played the festival’s original incarnation, but it seems fitting that the reunited band would grace the stage at the reconstituted festival’s first stop at Chicago’s Grant Park.
Wilco — “I’m the Man Who Loves You” (2006)
If Chicago has a municipal band, that band is Wilco. Seeing the 2.0 build play a wigged-take on the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot cut in front of the city’s skyline near sundown for thousands of their fellow citizens makes you want to vote for Jeff Tweedy for alderman.
What sometimes gets lost in the confusion and tragedy of Winehouse’s life was the fact that she had nearly impeccable taste. Belting Sam Cooke’s classic “Cupid” in the city of his birth is one thing, but shifting its rhythm into a two-tone ska frame allows her band to shine and gives her plenty of spikes to wrap her voice around.
Radiohead — “Idioteque” (2008)
Encores at festival headlining sets aren’t usually dystopic atonal dance songs, but it’s hard to argue with “Idioteque” in any context, much less in the very park where President-Elect Obama would accept his mantel only a few months later.
Dan Deacon — “Of the Mountains” (2009)
With 2009’s Bromst, Dan Deacon elevated his day-bright party into high art, but he still brought the synchronized crowd dancing from the club to the big field.
Arcade Fire — “Wake Up” (2010)
Sure, Arcade Fire made a major splash five years earlier at Lolla’s first Grant Park edition, but “Wake Up” is a song that was written for main stages and headlining sets.
My Morning Jacket — “One Big Holiday” (2011)
Like Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket seemed to be writing festival-ready anthems years before they were playing big stages at mega fests. “One Big Holiday” was a warm hootenanny on the club circuit in 2003, but it reaches its crowd-stomping potential here.
Jack White — “Seven Nation Army” (2012)
After releasing Blunderbuss in 2012, Jack White barnstormed across the country with a pair of bands—one male, one female. For their Lolla headlining gig, he and The Peacocks transformed Grant Park into some combination of a European soccer stadium and a Big Day Out–worthy jumping wall.
Kendrick Lamar — “m.A.A.d city” (2013)
Kendrick had already blown up Bonnaroo with the title cut to his 2012 album, but it seems safe to bet that Lolla 2013 was the first time he’d ever had to restart halfway through to let a dude in a wheelchair safely crowd-surf his way to the front.
Chance the Rapper — “Somewhere in Paradise” (2014)
Paul McCartney — “Hey Jude” (2015)
The ultimate singalong. Not even Kaskade could stop it.