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Apr. 6 2010 - 11:07 pm | 628 views | 1 recommendation | 5 comments

Nice lineup Lollapalooza, but where are the Chicago bands?!

Once again, Lollapalooza’s delivered an impressive lineup of exceptional live bands (Arcade Fire, Gogol Bordello), some accomplished vets (reggae rocker Jimmy Cliff, Devo), hot acts of the hour (Lady Gaga, MGMT, The xx, Phoenix), scores of solid indie rockers (The New Pornographers, Spoon, Yeasayer, Frightened Rabbit), some noteworthy reunions (Soundgarden and The Strokes) and  just a sprinkle of R&B and hip hop for good measure (Cypress Hill and Erykah Badu).

There’s loads of gripes and cheers all over the Web today, but truth be told, it’s an impressive feat to assemble a group of artists that can appeal to the masses yet possess a unique musical spirit. You’ll never find Justin Bieber at Lolla. (Not yet anyway).

But there’s one area where Lollapalooza’s lineup is exceptionally lacking, and its such a shameful oversight, it can’t be excused: Chicago bands are barely represented at Chicago’s biggest music event of the year.

Out of 121 different acts announced so far, a measly 11 have ties to the city. (And that includes The New Pornographers, a primarily Canadian group that counts recent Chicago resident Neko Case as one of its star members). That’s a pathetic 9%.

Lollapalooza is already doing so much in promoting the city, that’s true. But this being a music festival that prides itself on its Chicago home, why not support Chicago’s incredibly rich music scene? Why can’t Lolla team up with a sponsor to set up a small stage with back to back sets of local artists? For the thousands upon thousands of city dwellers and tourists alike, it’d be an incredible opportunity to showcase all the local scene has to offer, and a thrill for our hardworking, talented bands to get a platform to show off what they’ve got.

Maybe for 2011? Or is there a greater chance of Bieber headlining the Spencer’s stage? God, I really hope not.

Well at least at this year’s Lolla, you can see these 11 local acts, most of whom will be playing DJ sets. Listed in alphabetical order.

BBU (Bin Laden Blowin Up)

Company of Thieves

Dani Deahl

Felix da Housecat

 Flosstradamus (If I catch only one Chicago DJ set, it’ll be this one).

The Ike Reilly Assassination (No band at Lolla’s like this classic rock-inspired, slightly satirical act).


Mavis Staples (The top Chicago act to see, Staples’ swampy, emotionally-charged gospel is rightfully legendary).

The New Pornographers (Going out on a limb to classify this as a Chicago band, since only one member recently became a resident. And that band mate in question, Neko Case, isn’t even guaranteed to play at Lolla. She didn’t perform at the group’s last Lolla gig).


Team Bayside High


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  1. collapse expand

    Neko Case is a massive stretch. Put her in the New Pornographers, and she’s only about 1/7th of that band, anyway.
    Point being, it’s more like 10.1 bands out of 121 or an even more depressing 8%.

    Knowing nothing whatsoever about the Chicago scene, my question would naturally be…does the music scene there produce more than 10 bands [ahem, I suppose we're really talking about DJ's here] worthy of the event?

    I always want to support local music, wherever it may be, but I don’t know anything more about the Chicago scene than I did when I came here. I guess what I’m saying is, where’s YOUR list? Creating one would do those bands you want to support a service.

    Right now I only see a complaint without any evidence, other than a number. But Chicago is only about 3% of the US/Canada population [assuming no other countries are represented] so one decontextualized conclusion might be that it is already getting 3x as many bands as it should…?

    You also have to ask (if you want to stack the lineup) at what point should a less-good Chicago act take precedence over a better out-of-town act? I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want outside people coming away from the event seeing a bunch of mediocre Chicago talent…that couldn’t be good for local music, either.

  2. collapse expand

    Point of fussy order, Mr. Chairman — Kim Thayil (“Soundgarden”) is from the Chicago suburbs, as is Hiro Yamamoto (Original “Soundgarden”, later “Truly”) and Bruce Pavitt (Sub Pop co-founder).

    Or am I the only one left with an intact copy of “Identity Crisis” :-)

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    I came to Chicago for college because I liked the look of fire escapes snaking down alleyways, because I wanted to see what this Second City comedy thing was all about, because "The Blues Brothers" and "The Untouchables" made it look like the coolest city ever. And while I've never been chased down by hundreds of cop cars or involved in a slow motion shootout on the steps at Union Station, I still find Chicago to be the greatest city in the world. Architecture, food, Midwestern values and people aside, it's the arts scene that really makes Chicago come alive, be it the witty and wonderful wordplay over at The Second City and Steppenwolf, or the stirring sounds of the city's orchestra or rock bands at Schubas and Metro, or the mind-blowing flicks I've caught at the Music Box (including David Cronenberg's classic "Scanners," in which a mind does literally blow).

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