BY ANDERS SMITH LINDALL For the Sun-Times
Hey folks, it's Sun-Times freelancer Anders Smith Lindall here, joining your usual host pop critic Thomas Conner and a crew of other colleagues for our annual Lollapalooza coverage from Grant Park.
Lollapalooza 2011 will open shortly under sunny skies and, thankfully, moderate temperatures compared to the oppressive heat and humidity that seem to follow this event. This is the seventh year of Lolla's iteration as a "destination" festival on the Chicago lakefront, and I've covered them all.
According to organizers, this one is bigger than ever, with an expected 90,000 attendees each day and more than 150 performing artists. It's a long way from the scruffy traveling circus that was the first Lolla in 1991, when in the words of founder and Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, "I expected 10 or 20 thousand weirdoes to show up."
The open question is whether this Lollapalooza--the 20th anniversary edition--can be better than ever as well.
Headliners like Eminem and Coldplay are commercial heavyweights, sure, but where's the 'wow' factor of years past, with Lady Gaga, Kanye West or Radiohead? One could argue that last week's Paul McCartney concerts at Wrigley Field, this weekend's Sade shows at the United Center and next week's Taylor Swift extravaganzas at Allstate Arena pack more pound-for-pound punch than any act on this year's Lolla lineup.
It's deja vu all over again for many of the bigger support acts, with Cee Lo, My Morning Jacket, Atmosphere and others appearing here for the second or third time.
And further down the ticket, can the return of Mick Jones's Big Audio Dynamite really measure up to the likes of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop or the Pixies, legendary veterans who rekindled old magic on the Lollapalooza stage in recent years?
I'll spend my time mostly on the four stages in Grant Park's north end, where I'm looking forward to catching a few bands from our own backyard--including Disappears, Gold Motel and Smith Westerns--while paying special attention to those acts that traveled farthest to be here, among them Le Butcherettes (Mexico), Lykke Li (Sweden) and Los Bunkers and Chico Trujillo (Chile).
Speaking of Chile, Perry Farrell said at a backstage news conference this morning that Lollapalooza will again mount a multi-day festival in its capital, Santiago, next March 31 and April 1, and replicate it in Sao Paulo, Brazil on April 7 and 8, 2012.