View Full Version : A tale of two festivals starts with friendship, competition

08-03-2010, 06:08 AM
A tale of two festivals starts with friendship, competition


I'd love to hear Paul Tollett and Perry Farrell reminisce about their roles in the history of independent music festivals.

They're bookends really. Tollett is a founder of Coachella. Farrell started Lollapalooza.

But their paths intersect and intertwine like strings of ivy on hallowed edifices.

Farrell changed the concept of festivals in 1991 when he turned the farewell tour of his band, Jane's Addiction, into a traveling festival of bands that became known as “alternative” after Farrell declared his festivals an “alternative nation.”

Farrell says that goes back to Lollapalooza's formation.

“When I met (Tollett), I liked his style. I liked his attitude. I liked who he was booking,” Farrell told me. “He was bringing in the groups from England, all the cool groups with the bigger shows. So, I started to hang with him.

“When Jane's was breaking in L.A. I could have gone with any promoter. I had the power. I said, ‘I want to give my shows to Goldenvoice.' People said, ‘They've never done anything that big.' I said, ‘I don't care. I know they can.' I think that's why he said that. I gave them Lollapalooza and I've given them every Jane's show.”

Now, Farrell is changing indie festivals again.

Farrell has booked such huge modern rock bands as Soundgarden, Green Day, Arcade Fire and The Strokes to play Lollapalooza, Friday through Sunday at Grant Park in Chicago.

He's also just booked Z Japan, described as the most successful rock band in Japanese history. (Check out an interview with them at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6jaYJQUqBg.)

But, when I talked to Farrell, he was most excited about expanding his indie festival to include a pop star with Lady Gaga. That's like Tollett expanding his indie fest to feature a hip-hop star like Jay-Z.

“This is the way I look at it,” he said with his high-octane energy. “Rock is a little bit on the wane. Indie rock is cool. Electro indie rock is happening. Hybrid electronics with live instrumentalists is really happening. And, at the far end over there is dance.

“It's like Einstein's theory that space is warped. It's going to start coming back. Then there's pop, then there's hip-hop, then there's emo and now coming back around is rock. That's how the world is.

“I want to branch out because rock, as I'm telling you, is slightly on the wane. The million-dollar acts are less and less, but they're here in pop. So Lady Gaga is good because she's pop, she's dance, she's production. For a live situation, I couldn't ask for more.”

Tollett changed the concept of festivals again in 1999 when he founded the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival a year after Lollapalooza folded. He put disparate artists with little radio airplay on an Indio polo field and drew enough niche audiences to create what was called a “destination festival.”

Farrell saved Coachella in 2001, after it skipped 2000, by reuniting Jane's Addiction to be the headliner. Coachella then partnered with corporate giant AEG Live and became the most successful destination festival in America.

Farrell resurrected Lollapalooza in 2003 by making Jane's Addiction its headliner. He turned it into a destination festival in Chicago in 2005 and ensured success by finding his own corporate partner, Capital Sports & Entertainment.

It became a three-day festival in 2006. Coachella became a three-day festival in 2007.

Tollett told me in 2008 that he and Farrell have interesting lunches where they compare notes about each other's festivals.

Farrell told me in April their competitive fires flame when they get together.

“It's a mixed energy of, ‘Wow, that's great for you,' and, ‘Ah, that really hurts. I can't believe you got that,'” Farrell said. “There has to be (competition). We're the centerpieces of American festivals.”

Tollett says he books Farrell to perform at every Coachella because, “There would not be a Coachella without him.”

Three-day passes are still on sale for Lollapalooza and, unlike Coachella, it also has one-day tickets for sale.

08-03-2010, 06:25 AM
pretty cool article.

donkey sex
08-04-2010, 10:49 AM
too long, couldnt fit

08-11-2010, 07:28 AM
nice article

Pura Vida
08-18-2010, 06:58 PM
Some friendly competition resulting in two successful festivals. Good article.

08-19-2010, 02:41 AM
A good read. Two grea dudes right there

08-19-2010, 05:18 AM
Where do they eat together? Do they also share a dessert?

08-19-2010, 05:28 AM
Is Z Japan any better than X Japan?