This was my sixth and least enjoyable time in Grant Park for Lollapalooza. A large part of that displeasure is not the festival's fault, only time's. I am older. There was detectable paradigm shift at Lollapalooza in 2013. The crowds keep getting bigger and bigger—and younger and younger. If there were only 100,000 people in that park on Sunday, I'll eat a bucket of that eerie dark mud that stains your lower extremities when it rains there. The vibe has fully become spring break, Daytona Beach. Every girl wore a bikini top and floral headband. Every boy wore a basketball jersey. I spotted more Adventure Time T-shirts than Cure merchandise. This is a festival for teenagers.
Well, it has become a festival with teenagers. C3 Presents has not quite figured out yet that the festival should be for them.
Consider the band at the top of the bill, the Cure. A light crowd half-populated the 25-acre expanse of Hutchinson Field. Why? Few 17-year-olds care about a band that made hits for their parents. Funny, a few years back, my editor and I pondered how Lollapalooza would cope with finding worthy headliners in the future. It seemed as if we were running out of arena acts. After you book Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam, Wilco, etc., what option do you have but cycle through them again? How else can you justify those sizable ticket fees unless you blow the dust off some iconic rock dinosaur for a reunion, like Black Sabbath.
Here's a radical idea: Don't book those bands. Save your money, C3. The crowds for the Cure, Nine Inch Nails, My Morning Jacket, Black Sabbath and Depeche Mode were some of the smaller I have seen over the past few years. Phoenix should have been playing the larger southern stage, topping the entire bill. Phoenix! Because they have had hits that a senior in high school can remember from when he was a sophomore in high school. Or just from this year.
Every year, we have noted that "Should Have Been Headlining" band. Last summer, it was Florence + The Machine. Before that, MGMT, Foster the People. Over the weekend, Ellie Goulding and Two Door Cinema Club drew capacity hordes to the northern field. There were easily twice as many people watching Goulding as Nine Inch Nails, and more of them seemed to be having more fun (well, duh).
Tickets for Lolla 2013 sold out before a line-up was announced. So fuck these rock dinosaurs. Put them out to pasture (er, Ravinia's lawn?). The kids will flock to whatever is hot, right now. Lollapalooza should cut the ties to its '90s past. Asking men in their 40s and 50s to top the Lolla bill is akin to thinking you need Paul Giamatti to be the voice a racing snail in Turbo. Is there a difference between the Cure and Steely Dan to a bro in a shirt that says "I Heart Boobies"? The audience does not give a damn.
With that being said, I thought I'd take a ridiculously premature stab at who will headline next year. This is pure conjecture, and not wishful thinking: Daft Punk, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Beck, Foster the People. But Macklemore would suffice.