Is it too early to start worrying about Lollapalooza 2014? On Tuesday, the headliners of the Chicago festival leaked, and with Eminem, Skrillex, Arctic Monkeys and Kings of Leon topping the list, it feels dangerously 2009.
Eminem is riding off his “MMLP2,” which got decent critical reception, but is by no means his best material. Not to mention it’s already aged quite a bit, to the point where nobody is dying to see his newest material. This begs the question: Is it best to headline festivals closer to a new release, or even right before? Nine Inch Nails headlined the 2013 Lollapalooza a few weeks before the release of “Hesitation Marks” and fans (and soon-to-be fans) were excited to see what new material the band was about to release for the first time in front of a massive crowd at Grant Park.
In this regard, Skrillex headlining is probably the most appropriate, considering he just released (kind of) his album via a weird counting down app/game thing. The album hasn’t gotten too much media hype, but those that have heard the album generally give it a fair amount of praise. And Skrillex has never had a problem churning out new versions of old hits and shaking things up for a live crowd. But Skrillex is at almost every major festival in the country, and has been for years.
That’s another problem with the current headliner lineup: there are no unexpected faces. Think back to the 2012 headliners: Black Sabbath and At the Drive-In! What an insane move that was. Black Sabbath is a legendary band and seeing them is a chance of a lifetime. And ATDI hadn’t been together in 10 years and had teased a reunion, but nothing big had come of it until Lollapalooza. New Order also made an appearance in 2013, which at the time, marked the band’s only scheduled tour date that year.
Is anyone surprised by Kings of Leon leading a festival? The band has been struggling in recent years to reach listeners and impress critics. And its latest release, “Mechanical Bull,” is hardly a set of material that warrants a headlining spot at a major festival.
One highlight of this list of headliners is Arctic Monkeys. The band’s 2013 release, “AM,” was excellent, and this marks Arctic Monkeys’ first headlining spot of a major festival in the U.S. The problem is, does Arctic Monkeys have the draw for a headlining spot of Lollapalooza? The band tours extensively through medium-sized venues, and there’s hardly an Arctic Monkeys fan that hasn’t seen the band a few times within the last year.
But one thing Lollapalooza has always been very keen to do, where other festivals might fall short, is stacking the middle and bottom of the lineup with worthy acts. Having huge name, expensive headliners means the rest of the lineup suffers, forcing festival-goers to suffer through sub par bands until they see the one or two bands they spent $600+ dollars to see. Perhaps, if fans are lucky, Lollapalooza saved its cash to impress us with the bulk of the lineup rather than a few headliners.
We’ll see next week when the full Lollapalooza 2014 lineup is announced.
James Garcia is a community reporter at the Loveland Reporter-Herald and a new blogger at Reverb. Follow him on Twitter @JamesGarciaRH.