And just like that, Lollapalooza returns to Chicago in 2021. Thursday, July 29th through Sunday, August 1. All four days, all full capacity. That’s around 100,000 people per day. Given that the world is still in a bit of a precarious place right now and not everything is fully reopened yet, any feelings you may have about safety and the words “superspreader event” are very much justified. People come from all over the globe to attend this festival, and with varying vaccination rates and new virus variants spreading like wildfire there’s some potential for danger. After all, this will be the first real test of vaccine efficacy in the United States and perhaps the world. It seems doubtful there will be any other large scale events happening before mid-July, though I suppose the (smaller) Rolling Loud festival in Miami the week before Lolla also qualifies.
All that said, along with the initial lineup announcement, Lollapalooza organizers have shared some information regarding COVID protocols for festival attendees. Specifically, everyone entering into Grant Park will be required to show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result taken within 24 hours of each day. While this likely isn’t 100% foolproof at preventing infection (fake vaccine cards/test results may be used by some people, there are typically groups of fence jumpers that sneak into the festival every year), it at least signals they’re attempting to keep things as safe as possible. More information about specific COVID protocols and requirements will be revealed at some point in July leading up to the start of Lolla.
Given that the demographics of Lollapalooza skew heavily toward the younger generation (teens), there are some positives and negatives to consider related to risk factors. On the plus side, vaccinated or not, teenagers tend to have a much lower potential for severe illness and death if they do catch COVID. On the minus side, most teens feel invincible and fail to fully grasp the concepts of safety and responsibility for others. I would not be the least bit surprised to see 90% of people walking around maskless and without a care in the world, confident they won’t get sick and even if they do, it won’t be that bad. So yeah, just something to keep in mind before you buy a Lolla wristband this year.
The lingering shadow of COVID aside, let’s move on to more positive things, because if this were any other year all the talk would be about this lineup! It’s definitely an interesting collection of artists, and honestly I’m not 100% sure how I feel about the whole thing just yet. That top line of headliners: Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Tyler the Creator, and Miley Cyrus feels like it brings a little something for everybody. Foo Fighters handle the rock and may well be called a legacy act given their longevity. Post Malone is a crossover superstar, pulling in hip hop and pop fans alike. He had one of the biggest crowds of the entire festival for a late afternoon set in 2018. Tyler, the Creator has been grinding away at the rap game for over a decade now and has been making larger and larger strides to finally reach headliner status. And Miley Cyrus has plenty of classic pop hits but admirably refuses to be boxed in. Her last album put her into a Joan Jett sort of rock mode, and she’s been playing around with some covers too that really showcase her incredible voice. Should be a fun set!
The second line on the poster starts to dig into just how heavy Lollapalooza has started to emphasize rap, with DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, and Roddy Ricch taking up half the slots. Marshmello and ILLENIUM are two of your big EDM headliners, and Journey scores one for the “classic rock” set. I could’ve sworn Journey was playing the state fair and local parade circuit not too long ago, but it seems I’m wrong given their second tier headliner status.
I’m not going to go through the entire lineup line by line and talk about every artist because you have eyes and know how to read, so allow me to highlight a few notable names you can find on this thing. Never thought I’d see the day when Limp Bizkit was on a Lollapalooza lineup, let alone on the third line. 16-year-old me would be losing his mind over that. Nice to see Modest Mouse back in action, and keeping my fingers crossed they still break out some of the classics when performing live. Shout out to Chicago rapper Polo G for what’s poised to be his breakout year in 2021. Love to local heroes Whitney and Rookie as well.
Based on past experiences I can tell you that Rico Nasty and JPEGMAFIA both put on pretty wild and insanely fun sets, so those will be something to look forward to. Seriously, JPEGMAFIA gave one of the best festival performances I’ve ever seen a couple of years ago at Pitchfork. Not to be missed! Slowthai is super impressive too, and despite being a British rapper I still wound up trapped in an extremely violent mosh pit when I saw him in 2019. If you can get the crowd moving like that, it’s worth the price of admission. mxmtoon, Noga Erez, and Boy Pablo are all up-and-coming pop artists that will likely command much bigger stages in the future. Cool to see Hinds and Porches show up at this festival, even if they’re on the lower half of the poster. Allow me to give a big thumbs up to Aly & AJ, Goth Babe, and Chiiild as well – all artists worth checking out.
There’s plenty more good and worthwhile artists on this year’s Lollapalooza lineup that I haven’t named, so as always I encourage you to spend a little time familiarizing yourself with these acts. You may just discover something you love, whether you actually attend the festival or not. 4-day passes for Lollapalooza 2021 are on sale now, with an initial GA price of $350. Prices will go up as more tickets are sold, so you may want to buy sooner rather than later. Single-day tickets and day-by-day lineups will likely be revealed in a week or two.