A History of Lollapalooza Lineups & Past Performers

Summer in Chicago is packed with music festivals, but none are bigger than the iconic Lollapalooza. Born in the early 90s, this four-day festival has grown to be one of the most iconic in the country. Over the years, the Lollapalooza lineup has evolved from a decidedly non-mainstream, alternative list of artists into a more all-encompassing, eclectic range of performers. 

Whether you think that’s a good or bad thing, Lollapalooza now attracts more fans than ever, and it has even spawned global versions of the festival in cities around the world, like Buenos Aires, Stockholm, Santiago, São Paulo, Paris, and Berlin. Along with live music, the festival brings in food vendors, comedy, artists, and political and nonprofit associations. And don’t worry, if you’re old school, you can still find some real alternative, indie, and true rock n’ roll bands at Lollapalooza. The lineup is massive!

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Past Lollapalooza Performers – The 90s

Before it took up permanent residency in Chicago, Lollapalooza toured across the nation. Originally conceived as a farewell festival for Jane’s Addiction in 1991, it attracted bands like Nine Inch Nails, rapper Ice T, the alternative Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the punk rock Violent Femmes.

But of course, the 90s also brought the rise of grunge, garage, and tons more alternative rock bands who were happy to call Lolla home. The 1992 Lollapalooza lineup included Pearl Jam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. In 1994, the festival saw the likes of Green Day, The Smashing Pumpkins, A Tribe Called Quest, and The Flaming Lips. Nirvana was also supposed to headline in ’92 until the death of Kurt Cobain. (Afterwards, Courtney Love made surprise appearances on that tour to speak about him and play a few songs with her band, Hole.)

In 1996, the festival upset quite a few loyal fans with a turn to the mainstream by booking Metallica, which caused the founder of the festival to quit. To increase relevance to a wider audience, they also booked country legend Waylon Jennings. But there were still plenty of other artists to appease Lolla-attendees, like the Ramones, Soundgarden, Rancid, Rage Against the Machine, Cheap Trick, Wu-Tang Clan, and Ben Folds Five. The next year, 1997, brought electronica bands like The Prodigy and The Orb, but also big names like Snoop Dogg, Damian Marley, and Beck.

But when alternative rock died in the late 90s, so did the Lollapalooza tour.

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Early 2000s Lollapalooza Lineups

It wasn’t until 2003 that Lollapalooza was reborn. When Jane’s Addiction got back together, the band member and fest-founder Perry Farrell also brought back his touring festival. Scheduled for 30 cities across the country, the 2003 event saw headliners like Jane’s Addiction (obviously), Incubus, Audioslave, Queens of the Stone Age, Kings of Leon, and Thirty Seconds to Mars.

Unfortunately, despite scheduling several prominent bands like The Killers, Wilco, Morrissey, Modest Mouse, and Sonic Youth, the 2004 Lollapalooza was cancelled due to low ticket sales.

Finally At Home in Chicago – 2005 Lollapalooza Lineup

Having scrapped the idea of touring, Lollapalooza’s coordinators set up the event as a two-day destination festival in Grant Park, Chicago with over 70 artists and bands across multiple stages. The 2005 Lollapalooza saw acts like Cake, Weezer, Primus, Widespread Panic, Drive-By Truckers, Billy Idol, Pixies, Dashboard Confessional, Arcade Fire, The Killers, OK Go, The Black Keys, Death Cab for Cutie, Spoon, and G.Love and Special Sauce, among many others. With the success of the 2015 festival, Lollapalooza signed with Chicago to keep the event going for five more years!

2006 Lollapalooza Lineup

Over the next several years, Lollapalooza saw lots of repeat performers who kept coming back each summer to play the festival. Fans at the 2006 Lollapalooza saw mainstream artists trickle in amongst more alternative bands. Panic! At the Disco, Umphrey’s McGee, Ween, The Raconteurs, Death Cab for Cutie, Wilco, The Flaming Lips, and My Morning Jacket all performed, but so did Gnarls Barkley, Kanye West, Ryan Adams, and the (now incredibly popular) Red Hot Chili Peppers.

After several more successful festivals, in 2008, the city of Chicago agreed to extend Lollapalooza for 10 more years.

2010 Lollapalooza Lineup

In 2010, Lollapalooza brought in the big guns with Lady Gaga as a headliner, which definitely brought more of a pop fan base to the festival. But there was still an array of artists like Devo, Hot Chip, Green Day, The Strokes, The Black Keys, Blues Traveler, Soundgarden, MGMT, Mumford & Sons, Switchfoot, Erykah Badu, and Cypress Hill to keep everybody entertained. Lollapalooza was now attracting all sorts of fans, and tickets started to sell out even faster…

2015 Lollapalooza Lineup – Four Days of Lolla!

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Lollapalooza was extended to four days. Safely into mainstream territory by now, the festival nabbed Paul McCartney as a headliner and even brought back Metallica. Florence + the Machine, The Weeknd, Sam Smith, The Chainsmokers, Kygo, Twenty-One Pilots, the Alabama Shakes, and Alt-J also performed at the top of the lineup. Electronic artists and DJs like Bassnectar, Kaskade, Alesso, and Tame Impala were a staple in this 2015 lineup, along with rappers like A$AP Rocky, Kid Cudi, and G-Eazy. 

2018 Lollapalooza Lineup 

With over 180 (!!!) bands last year, Lollapalooza has grown to an enormous size with a diverse selection of artists that even your mom would like. In 2018, there was truly something from every genre and for every music fan – pop, rock, electronic, indie, rap, hip-hop, and more. The Weeknd returned to headline, along with Bruno Mars, the Arctic Monkeys, Travis Scott, Post Malone, Khalid, Chvrches, Logic, Vampire Weekend, Zedd, Odesza, Dua Lipe, Portugal. The Man, LL Cool J, and Gucci Mane. AndLollapalooza is destined to grow, evolve, and only get better from here…

2019 Lollapalooza Lineup

It’s lit. So much so that we’re covering this year in more detail with a separate post!

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