The upcoming Lollapalooza tour will likely be a blossoming garden of creativity and improvisation. And the stuff that happens onstage will probably be pretty cool too.
Organizers are hoping one of the highlights of the trek will be a backstage rehearsal room they've set up with recording equipment, enabling musicians to jam together and work on collaborative projects.
"I'm expecting recordings to come out of it because we have organic, real players," Lollapalooza co-founder Perry Farrell said. "I just get a great feeling."
Farrell said he hopes to jam with Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello and maybe members of Incubus, but his first priority is to rock with Queens of the Stone Age, who are no strangers to the collaborative process.
"I think my voice is warming to Queens," he said. "I'm going to try and hang with [singer/guitarist] Josh [Homme] and try to work something out. But all of the musicians are great, and that’s the beautiful thing."
From the outside, it looks like artists on this year's Lollapalooza lineup — Jane's Addiction, Audioslave, Incubus, Queens of the Stone Age, Jurassic 5 and the Donnas (see "Lollapalooza Tour Dates Announced") — may have been chosen because of their market value and diversity. Jane's will likely bring in old-school alternative rock fans, while Audioslave and Queens should reach more contemporary hard rockers, Incubus more mainstream ears, the Donnas more women and Jurassic 5 more hip-hop fans. But Farrell insists he chose his touring comrades for more selfish reasons.
"When I put together a festival, this is how I try to imagine it," he explained. "I first picture the musicians sitting at a table, eating and drinking. I rate them by if I would like to eat with them. Then after that, I consider, 'Would I like to play music with them?' And then from there, I think, 'How would it be if we met up in the next city? Would we meet up in a hotel for a drink and then where would we go from there?' Then you can start to dream."
When Lollapalooza first set sail in 1991, the idea of six main bands and a second stage full of additional performers hitting the road together was fairly novel but proved profitable. Now it's old hat, and as Lollapalooza prepares to make the rounds for the first time in six years, there are new obstacles to contend with. Not only will the festival have to battle a sinking economy and the rising costs of staging live shows, it'll be competing with other proven rock battalions, including Ozzfest and Summer Sanitarium.
"You'd expect that I would be agitated or look at them as competition, but I clearly don’t because my competition was my last year," Farrell said. "What I would try to do is better myself. As far as they go, I think their music skews a little far from what I'm doing. They have their niche and I have mine. I like to look at the world as a very big place, and I think that we can all cohabitate in this very big universe."
This year, Lollapalooza, which kicks off July 3 in Ionia, Michigan, will feature the usual assortment of booths, second stage attractions and other diversions. Farrell is particularly excited about the text messaging interactive gaming that will take place in between main stage acts.
"During that 20 minutes or so, people will be receiving text messages and they'll have a chance to win big prizes," he said.
Prizes might include trips to the Bahamas, an iPod or a visit backstage to watch Jane's Addiction rehearse before they go onstage. Farrell and his team are working with "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to come up with kooky ideas and funny trivia.
"It could be something like knowing the First Amendment to knowing something silly about 'South Park,' " he said. "I will tell you this, though. If you get a message that says slap the guy in front of you, that’s not from us."