Perry Farrell Promises Top-Flight Rock, Family Fun At Retooled Lollapalooza

Indie rock, the king of the jam bands and a kids' area are among July festival's attractions.

There may be a touch of gray in his hair, and his suits may be a little light on the psychedelic swirls and electric tassels, but Perry Farrell is still Perry Farrell — as becomes abundantly clear when he talks about music, especially the newly announced lineup for his re-reincarnated Lollapalooza festival.

"Lollapalooza has always been known for introducing the current crop of great musicians," Farrell said excitedly, "starting this year with Weezer, who will headline the first day. The second day we have the king of the jam bands, Widespread Panic, who are reminiscent of Nirvana if they'd decided to slant to the jam-band culture. Then we have the current crop of upstarts: the Killers, the Bravery, the Kaiser Chiefs, the Arcade Fire. You couldn't name a better roster of young talent that's important to today's generation."

Lollapalooza, which takes place July 23-24 in Chicago's Grant Park, also features indie heavyweights such as the Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. alongside a whole bunch of funky white guys like G. Love & Special Sauce and DJ Z-Trip (see "Weezer, Killers, Pixies, Dashboard Confessional On Board For Lollapalooza"). And as excited as Farrell is about this year's lineup, he's even more psyched about the festival choosing Grant Park as its home.

"If you drive down the street, look at Grant Park, and think of 45 or 50 thousand people a day lining that place, listening to music, and getting the beautiful spray off the lake, along with the giant sculptures and rose gardens, it's amazing," he said. "I think we have one of the great festival locations in the country, if not in all the world."

Early rumblings suggested that Farrell and Lollapalooza wouldn't have Grant Park — or any Chicago park — to call home this year. But the problems dividing the festival and the Chicago Park District have obviously been ironed out, and Farrell said there were no hard feelings.

"You have to look at it as a parent," Farrell explained. "You want to make sure your kids go to the right school and their friends are alright. That's how the city of Chicago is with its property. It wants to make sure everything is just so. But we came in with a great business plan: We're working with the Park District and we're going to beautify the city and leave it better than when we arrived."

This year's Lollapalooza also wants to be something previous editions haven't been: family friendly. Farrell announced plans for a special "Kidsapalooza" area in Grant Park, where little indie-rockers can chill while Mom and Dad check out the Warlocks or Brian Jonestown Massacre. But Farrell also claims Kidsapalooza won't just be about funnel cakes and a petting zoo; he apparently wants to use the area to expand little minds, too.

"It's not going be all 'paint your face' or 'hang on to a balloon,' " Farrell said. "It's going to be like one giant art piece. We're going to have the Blue Man Group perform for children.

"At the original tribal parties, the elders would pass the stories on through voice, dance and singing," he continued, apparently referring to Native American societies. "Then all of a sudden, kids stopped hanging out with elders.

"It's a bad sign for society when people stop communicating with each other."