Lolla - The Story of Lollapalooza: Why did Perry Farrell start the festival and who played the first one?

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Paramount +’s new three-part docuseries “Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza” reveals the highs, lows and subsequent highs once again of the alternative touring festival.

Its success permeated into popular culture, so much so that “The Simpsons” parodied it, lovingly, when Homer joined the roaming “Hullabalooza” festival - so you already get an idea just how big of a deal the Lollapalooza Festival was during the ‘90s. But what led to the festival’s inception?

A new three-part docuseries, “Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza” is set to chart the very highs and subsequent lows of the popular, eclectic alternative festival founded by Jane’s Addiction and Porno of Pyros’ frontman Perry Farrell, who in a clip from Paramount+ explains what led to the formation of the festival in 1991.

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“When Lolla was launched in 1991, the concert industry felt like a boring car ride that was running out of gas,” he said back during its debut festival. “We pumped new life into the live music experience and set the foundation for the youth’s counter culture to become important and exciting again. Now more than three decades young, I am happy to have this opportunity to give people an inside look at the festival’s contribution to music history.”

Its meteoric rise from a small festival with the likes of Jane’s Addiction, Beastie Boys and a burgeoning Foo Fighters exploded into the juggernaut we know today, with even at times international iterations to ensure the brand has a global reach. 

Since its debut, Lollapalooza has been a “who’s who” of emerging talent and has seen the likes of Lana Del Rey, Kendrick Lamar and even Ariana Grande - a far cry from its “counter-cultural” roots some purists found.

However, by the late 1990s, the festival's popularity waned, and it struggled to maintain its financial viability. In 1998, Lollapalooza was cancelled due to a lack of suitable headliners and insufficient interest from both bands and fans. Efforts to revive the festival in 2004 also fell through due to low ticket sales, leading to another cancellation that year.

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The turning point for Lollapalooza came in 2005 when it was reimagined as a single-location festival in Grant Park, Chicago, leading to a lowering of touring overheads and ensuring the survival of the festival.

Who played at the first Lollapalooza Festival?

Quite the impressive bill for a first festival, with Perry Farrell’s group Janes Addiction acting as the headliners, while Pixies, Rage Against The Machine and hip-hop pioneers EPMD also joined the bill on select dates.

Where can I watch “Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza” in the United Kingdom?

“Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza” is currently available to stream through Paramount+, which also includes access to MTV’s digital library.

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