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Lollapalooza and the Pitchfork Effect

The folks behind Lollapalooza officially unveiled the lineup for this year’s fest (that’s right - no more letter guessing) Tuesday morning. And it looks like someone’s been reading Pitchfork.

The lineup is jam packed with indie bands. Many of those acts have received the greatest praise Pitchfork has to offer, the oft-coveted “Best New Music” chalice/crown/shiny thing. The Arcade Fire, Phoenix, The National, Spoon, Hot Chip, Yeasayer and Grizzly Bear are all in the higher-tiers of the performance list hierarchy.

I guess I should be excited by the lineup. I am, after all, an avid “indie music” listener.

Yet something feels off.

Since Lollapalooza ended its short run as a traveling tour after its resurrection in 2003 and set up camp in Chicago, it was meant to be a gigantic musical extravaganza, made to rival the growing number of Bonnaroo-type fests in the country. Lolla was created as a festival for “alternative music,” but it’s also been a forum for big artists in the mainstream pop world and the growing scenes to boot.

So why does this year’s lineup feel like a one-dimensional Pitchfork Fest redux?

Sure, Pitchfork-supported acts have been given solid stage time in recent Lolla lineups, but they seem to be just about the only notable sign of life on this years fest. Aside from the usual inclusion of ’90s-alt-rock acts (headliners Soundgarden and Green Day) and an odd act included here and there, it looks like a less-eclectic version of what Pitchfork has hosted on their own stages in the past. Only more than twice as expensive and almost entirely lacking in anything outside the term “indie rock.”

It’s probably a bad sign when Lady Gaga looks out of place in a mainstream festival lineup. Or when there is a severe lack of hip-hop acts in a mainstream festival lineup. Or when one of the biggest-tiered acts only has a few singles and soon to be two albums to their name (MGMT.) Or when a large portion of the bands featured in an expensive mainstream festival lineup can be seen for $10 and change at, say, Schubas (Cymbals Eat Guitars, $12) or Lincoln Hall (Rogue Wave, $15) for significantly longer sets.

As much as I yearn to see Yeasayer or Hot Chip, I think I may just put that money in a safe place and go to Pitchfork’s fest to see the bands that will play Lollapalooza next year.

A brief video comparison:

Dan Deacon at Pitchfork Music Festival 2007:

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Dan Deacon at Lollapalooza 2009:

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