The 2010 Lollapalooza festival is about to begin in Grant Park in the heart of downtown Chicago. Once things get started with These United States (who have the honor of playing the first set of this year's festival), the music won't stop until Soundgarden and Arcade Fire both wave goodnight following their festival-closing sets on Sunday (August 8). Along the way, there will be huge performances care of Lady Gaga, Green Day, Phoenix, the Strokes, the Black Keys, Erykah Badu and dozens of others, and MTV News will be delivering the goods on every last note.
Ever since the first Lollapalooza way back in 1991 (which Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell put together as a farewell tour for his seminal band), the festival has morphed and evolved along with the popular tastes of the day. There has rarely been a better barometer of what's going on in the rock universe than the Lollapalooza lineup, be it the rise of grunge (1992), the explorations into dance music (1997), flirtations with metal (1996) or the growing influence of hip-hop and R&B (2008). MTV News has been on the ground with many of the Lollapaloozas of the past, so all this week, MTV News' James Montgomery has been preparing for this year's festival with a series he called "Lollapalooza Lookbacks." Check out the noisy trip down memory lane below.
No band has ever played Lollapalooza more than Soundgarden (in addition to this weekend, they also hopped on in '96 and '92), and in 1992, they were crossing the country with the touring festival just as they were starting to pick up steam on the back of Badmotorfinger. But guitarist Kim Thayil was also into the idea of catching up with bands he liked. "I'd like to come and see Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E.," he told MTV News in 1992.
Lollapalooza 1997 will probably always be remembered as the "electronica year," as acts like the Orb, Orbital and the Prodigy owned the main stage. But just as it was for many bands in the past, Lollapalooza provided a proving ground for Korn, who were only just building up the nu-metal wave. Drummer David Silveria summed up the experience of playing the touring summer festival nicely. "I think it means, like, spending the summer in hot-ass Africa," he joked.
Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell has always said that he wanted his festival to be a celebration of all types of music, and he has largely stuck to his guns. Though primarily known for showcasing the most progressive rock acts of the day, Lollapalooza has always been committed to dance music, reggae, R&B, metal, funk and especially hip-hop. When Ice Cube took his place on the main stage in 1992, he had education in mind. "I think everybody's going to come out with an open mind, and they're going to be willing to learn about all the groups out here, including the rap groups," he told MTV News. "I want people to understand the young black male, how it is living in the United States and the pain and hurt we feel. I might learn a thing or two, also. I haven't seen any of these bands play, and you can't teach until you learn."
The very first Lollapalooza was meant to be a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction, but there was one upstart band constantly stealing the spotlight with their rage-fueled, manic afternoon sets. Nine Inch Nails were still trying to gain a foothold in the rock world with their stellar debut Pretty Hate Machine, and their under-the-sun sets were not only a showcase for excellent industrial-rock tunes but also for frontman Trent Reznor's rather complicated relationship with technology. When his equipment failed him during a show in Phoenix, he trashed his entire set, and MTV News was there.
After the first year was such a roaring success, Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell brought it back for another go-round in 1992. When MTV News sat down with Farrell and festival co-founder Ted Gardner in the spring of that year, they went over the lineup for the second summer (which was even bigger than the first). Included in that roster? Pearl Jam, described by Gardner as "a great little band from Seattle."
Lollapalooza 2010 gets under way Friday — make sure to check out MTV News' Lollapalooza Live, streaming Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m., right here on MTV.com. And follow all of Lollapalooza on the MTV Newsroom blog.