Never trust a first impression. Especially when it comes to official press photos as they tend to always showcase the best possible visual output. So, the official ones of the first ever Lollapalooza Berlin show a lot of smiling faces and sunlight as they euphorically celebrate music, life and art with flowers in their hair and glitter on the face. And don’t get us wrong right here – it was all there, all the smiles, glitter and ‘hipsterness’ but what they didn’t show were the queues. In front of the area, the toilet or the food courts. 90 minutes to get your wristbands? Check. 60 minutes for urinating? Double-Check? Almost 2 hours for a burger. Hell yes. During the first day it looked like the Lollapalooza Berlin would turn into a gigantic organizational disaster but thank god it still managed to became a solid experience – at least if you are into that sort of festival.
The idea of the Lollapalooza Festival was never meant to be the one of your ordinary music open air. At least, that’s what founder Perry Farrell head in mind when he founded the series back in 1990. Although it was once claimed to be a gigantic alternative music event the reality of 2015 couldn’t be further away from the truth. Lollapalooza is as pop and mainstream as such an event can be. Questionable mainstream pop acts like SAM SMITH, MACKLEMORE or BASTILLE team up with crowd-pleasing rock giants like MUSE and THE LIBERTINES and commercial dance acts at Perry Farrell’s very own stage. Besides that, expect a lot of brands pretty much everywhere you look. Advertisement for cars, cigarettes and fashion brands came in the shape of clever promo actions, one more questionable than the other. Just take the local airline who gave away free bottles of water in front of the festival area which you, well, weren’t allowed to bring to the area at all. The slogan ‘Be alternative – be individual’ that was printed on top of one of the stages sounded like sheer mockery.
But wait, we focus a bit on the negative aspects so far. Yes, the first day was amateurish to a high level. Especially for the poor folks who bought a Premium/VIP-ticket for a shitload of money and had to wait almost two hours to come in on Saturday afternoon due to technical difficulties and poor logistics. Okay, beginner’s mistake, you could say but on the other side – these are the guys who organized MELT! Festival and – until it moved away – the Berlin Festival at the very same location. But enough contra for now because – and that’s something you really have to appreciate – following a massive initial shitstorm after the first day the organizers reacted and organized more toilets and food stands over the night, resulting in a way better working Sunday. And that itself deserves some credit because unfortunately, it’s no matter of course these days.
‘Two rappers kept the revolutionary spark alive’
Thank god, there was still the music aka the basis of everything. And when you have so many big players in your line-up you can’t do wrong and there surely is not much negative to say about the musical program of the first ever Lollapalooza Berlin. There was something for everybody and if you are a fan of multiple genres it might have felt a bit like paradise from time to time. Where else can you switch directly from German dada techno rap collective DEICHKIND to the reunited LIBERTINES within a few minutes? Indie nerds celebrated a rare performance by the FRANZ FERDINAND and SPARKS joint venture FFS which proved that coolness knows no age limit. Keyboarder Ron Mael turned 70 last month at still knows how play his role. BELLE & SEBASTIAN were just too sweet on Sunday’s mainstage with Stuart Murdoch inviting multiple fans on stage to party with them while wearing hopelessly outdated silver-coloured pants (although his wife explicitly told him not to as he told the audience).
Hyped new hip hop gods RUN THE JEWELS proved why they deserve the buzz as they delivered an angry prove of their talent while keeping the crowd and themselves excited and entertained. If there were any signs of ‘alternative’ or punk left at the Lollapalooza Berlin it might have been that show of Killer Mike and El-P. And it was also interested to see what revolutionary musical force hip hop can be in the year 2015 while all the other present genres can’t give answers to society’s burning questions these days. In direct contrast to the rap duo the shows of other artists were lacking a bit of that raw energy. Especially in the case of stadium rockers MUSE who delivered a solid but way too smooth performance whose political messages sound more like programmed phrases that an actual call to arms.
Still, we overall had a solid time at the Lollapalooza Berlin. Commercial dance nonsense like EDM-duo DADA LIFE can be highly entertaining although we highly doubt that there was space for any actual live music performance in the perfectly timed audiovisual overload of the two Swedes Olle Cornéer and Stefan Engblom. And we also enjoyed the psychedelic grooves of TAME IMPALA as the final act of the event. Unfortunately, we missed too many acts due to that tough decisions you have to make. What’s a massive line-up worth if you don’t have the time to see the majority of it? Maybe a third ay, one stage less and a few smaller acts would help next year, especially since there is so much more to be discovered on the impressive Tempelhof airport area but so little time.
The first ever Lollapalooza Berlin was calculated fun and delivered quality but the event was surely balancing on the edge of its own overestimation. The organizers wanted their big statement for a start and they got it. Okay, message received even it was a soulless one. But to offer the full experience they promised it might be wiser to take a step back next time, catch some breath and really give the event its own identity. If you got the right bands the people will come anyway. Until then the Lollapalooza Berlin surely isn’t the best place to look for an alternative. Capitalism ate pretty much everything of it. Still, karma is heading to the German capital: During the next months the Tempelhof airport will quite possibly also turn into a gigantic refugee quarter while the event itself will return next September. Let’s see how this works out.