Alternative rock has changed significantly over the years, from the artist that make up the genre to how fans enjoy it. Lollapalooza, the music festival that had an epic run from 1991 to 1997, followed by a troubled revival in 2003, exemplifies those changes.
Pitchfork.com’s Rob Mitchum’s 2005 article, “The Museum of Alternative Rock,” tackles those changes from a nostalgic view of the Lollapalooza of the 90s compared to the festivals revival in 2003. As a young adult, Mitchum had finally been able to attend Lollapalooza and was wowed by the acts he saw, but Mitchum sounds highly disappointed with the Lollapalooza he attended as a professional writer for a leading publication on music.
Where did Lollapalooza go wrong? Reading Mitchum’s article, it seems like the list would be quite lengthy. For starters, Mitchum and perhaps other music fans who had attended earlier iterations of Lollapalooza felt that the acts that were featured after the Lollapalooza revival did not do much to exemplify the original spirit commonly found throughout the festival. The setting itself detracted from that. After 2003, Lollapalooza went from a traveling festival that would hit various American cities to a one-destination festival hosted in Chicago, Illinois. To fund the troubled festival, organizers brokered deals with corporations for sponsorship that involved plastered logos and company names on the main stages. For Mitchum, this went against the original anti-corporate, anti-record label attitudes that many attendees and artist alike carried. The new Lollapalooza also failed to attract fresh, popular artists instead favoring older acts whose music would perhaps be lost to the changing generations that now attend the festival. This leads Mitchum to call it a museum of alternative rock, as it was full of bands that did little to once again electrify the genre and the festival as they had once do before.
Another point made by Mitchum that can lead to the downfall of a once highly acclaimed music festival is the lack of diversity in the music offered. When Lollapalooza was revived, mostly rock acts were favored for performing although earlier festivals in the 90s incorporated popular hip-hop acts as well.