Lollapalooza co-founder wants fest to be held in Chicago this year ‘in one capacity or another’

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Fans go wild for Daft Punk, which played at Lollapalooza in 2007.. - Charles Cherney/Chicago Tribune/TNS

CHICAGO — Lollapalooza co-founder Perry Farrell said in a new interview he hopes Chicago’s largest music festival will be held here “in early August in one capacity or another.”

“If we can all stay on course, get vaccinated, stay socially distanced and masked up, maybe — please, God, maybe — we’ll get to go to Chicago in early August in one capacity or another. If it’s not a giant Lollapalooza, it might be a half-capacity Lollapalooza or no Lollapalooza maybe. But I want there to be a Lollapalooza in some capacity so bad,” Farrell, the frontman for Jane’s Addiction, told iHeartRadio’s Jason Rockman in an interview posted online Saturday.

“But we can only respond to the people. If the people are getting it right and we’re flattening out and we’re going away from COVID infections, there’s hope. And I’m building for that. You know, I listen to Joe Biden when he thinks July 4 could be the first time we have a small celebration. I’m gonna say then my first small celebration will be in August, and I wanna have it in Chicago.”

Lollapalooza, a four-day festival that typically draws 100,000 music fans to Grant Park each day to see more than 170 acts, and other large summer events were not held in Chicago in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Lollapalooza organizers have not announced proposed festival dates, a lineup or ticket sales for Chicago this year, but there’s an indication they may be eyeing July 29-Aug. 1 in Grant Park.

There’s an “administrative reservation” of Grant Park grounds for Lollapalooza from July 14 to Aug. 6, 2021 with the permit status marked “tentative” in the Chicago Park District’s online event permit database. In 2019, Grant Park was reserved from July 17 to Aug. 10 for the Aug. 1-4 festival, according to information in that database. Lollapalooza typically requires an extensive setup that involves closures of roads near and within Grant Park days before the festival begins.

“We don’t have any information to share at this time,” a Lollapalooza representative said in an email Monday. Organizers said in a statement to the Tribune earlier this month: “While Lollapalooza and late summer may not be in the immediate future, planning for the festival takes time and we are currently doing just that. As we do, we remain in constant dialogue with our city leaders, recognizing that things could change, but optimistic that circumstances will continue to improve.”

As the city’s vaccine rollout continues, Mayor Lori Lightfoot last week loosened restrictions for outdoor activities such as baseball games, exercise classes and weddings, but spectator events without seating such as festivals were not part of this announcement. The latest city guidelines allow outdoor venues with capacity greater than or equal to 200 to hold seated spectator events such as sports games, theater performances and concerts at 25% capacity. Smaller venues can operate at no more than 50% capacity or 50 people, the city said.

The revamped reopening plan Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker separately unveiled earlier this month calls for a “bridge” phase that would start when 70% of residents 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The “bridge” phase guidelines for festivals and general admission outdoor spectator events take into account the festival footprint, allowing for 30 people per 1,000 square feet.

Christine Carrino, a city spokeswoman, told the Tribune in an email Monday the city “is evaluating the guidance released by the state of Illinois and will be releasing updated city guidelines for events and festivals soon.” The statement continued: “All events will need to continue to follow city and state health and safety guidelines, and we are working with festival organizers on creative and re-imagined event ideas for this summer.”

Some event organizers have plans in place in case large outdoor concerts and festivals are allowed this year. The team behind Riot Fest set its music festival for Sept. 17-19 in Douglass Park on the West Side and revealed part of its lineup. Pitchfork Music Festival organizers have also eyed September, though they have not announced dates or a lineup. Concerts have been rescheduled this year at Wrigley Field and the United Center.

Lollapalooza is to be held the first consecutive Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of August, unless a different set of dates is agreed to in writing, according to the multiyear agreement between the Chicago Park District and promoter C3 Presents.

Conceived as a Jane’s Addiction farewell tour, Lollapalooza was a touring festival in the early ’90s before settling in Grant Park in 2005. There are international editions as well, with 2021 dates announced for Lollapalooza in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paris and Sweden.