Lollapalooza was the brainchild of musician Perry Farrell, the lead singer of Jane’s Addiction. Initially conceived as a farewell tour for his band, Lollapalooza instead captured the zeitgeist and became an enormously successful platform for dozens of artists. In fact, Farrell coined the term “Alternative Nation” to describe the kind of vibe that dominated the early years—a mash-up of grunge, alternative rock, rap and punk lineups , inspiring audience members to crowd surf and slam into each other in mosh pits. Rejecting the traditional touring model and schedule by bringing together multiple acts to tour multiple cities fostered a real sense of community and like-minded people: those early years often featured chanting Tibetan monks, a circus sideshow, local artists, and non-profit consciousness-raising groups such as Greenpeace, Rock the Vote, and Amnesty International.
In the early days, Lollapalooza garnered comparisons to Woodstock for its community-building, countercultural vibe. You would likely find booths offering you the opportunity to “kill your television” by smashing one, shave your head, get a tattoo, or grab an open mic for an impromptu performance. Naturally, Lollapalooza’s grown and times have changed: it now comes with its own farmers’ market, an area dedicated to kids called Kidzapalooza , and Chow Town—an open-air food court with Chicago’s best festival food on display. Its progressive roots are still intact; these days that means running a carbon-neutral event, setting up free water bottle refilling stations, and creating a dedicated space for artists, clothing designers, jewelry makers, small-scale food purveyors and more at the marketplace they call Green Street.