Lollapalooza Set the Health Standard for Future Festivals to Follow and Enhance (Event Organizers Take Note)

Miley Cyrus Lollapalooza 2021

Miley Cyrus by Ashley Osborn for Lollapalooza 2021

Lollapalooza held one of the first largest music festivals back in the US, marking it as its 30th anniversary. So, what are the results ten days later?

The festival has become a catalyst for event organizers to uphold basic protocols dealing with the pandemic for festivals going forward, starting with proof of vaccination and negative testing. Bonnaroo and AEG Presents have taken the necessary steps to update its health policies for their future events. Live Nation is also announcing that its Lollapalooza requirements will set the template for all of its future events.

Prior to the event, Lollapalooza emphasized that attendees must comply with their Fan Health Pledge to be allowed into the event each day. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test leading up to the festival was required protocol for attendees to enter the festival each day. 

“Vaccines are going to be your ticket back to shows, and as of October 4th we will be following the model we developed for Lollapalooza and requiring this for artists, fans and employees at Live Nation venues and festivals everywhere possible in the US,” Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment, relayed in a statement.

Leading up to the festival, people were wary if there would be an actual check or not. As I attended the festival myself, I witnessed people getting turned away from the gates multiple times if they did not have proper documents.

At each entrance, there were staff and dozens of boxes of masks readily available. Throughout the park, you would find hand sanitizer pumps besides trash and recycling bins. Lollapalooza has also reported that 90% of attendees showed proof of vaccination across the four-day festival. With ten days passing since the end of the festival, Chicago health officials have reported 203 cases of COVID-19 linked to Lollapalooza. Although, they have yet to report hospitalizations or deaths linked to the festival. 

“Nothing unexpected here… No sign of a ‘superspreader event.’ But clearly with hundreds of thousands of people attending Lollapalooza, we would expect to see some cases,” says Department of Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady.

The Lollapalooza team consistently updated their social media pages of any exchanges or special events during the festival or any planned after-shows throughout the four days. Exchanges included daily lineup changes, schedule changes, or artists swapped out due to no longer attending the festival.

The four-day event had a stacked lineup with music acts ranging from Miley Cyrus, Megan Thee Stallion, Tyler, The Creator, Foo Fighters, and more. DaBaby’s rant at Rolling Loud did not align with Lollapalooza’s mission of inclusivity and diversity, resulting in a cancellation of his performance that was supposed to close out one of the stages on the last day of the event.

Many festivals like iHeart Radio Music Festival, Day N Vegas, Governors Ball, and more have dropped DaBaby from their lineups following Lollapalooza’s steps.

Touching on the festival’s mission of inclusivity and diversity, Lollapalooza is known to have American Sign Language interpreters for various sets, mainly the larger acts. One interpreter had gone viral on TikTok for their interpretation during Megan Thee Stallion’s WAP performance. The interpreter, known as @kelly4access on Instagram, decided to use their platform to share the importance of music interpreters and how they are passionate about supporting Deaf creators.  

“Seeing an interpreter at a concert shouldn’t be shocking. Seeing a deaf interpreter on tour with every artist should be the norm!”

The hearing interpreter also took the time to shout out ASL teachers and other ASL music cover contributors to the community via this Instagram post

This was my first time attending Lollapalooza. I was eager to see how a music festival of this scale would look like post-quarantine. Additionally, I was intrigued to see how the new moves for music in technology and the metaverse would play out at a live event.  

There was a total of nine stages across Grant Park, with various teams and sponsors to each. The most impressive stage was Solana X Perry’s stage. This stage featured EDM acts from artists like Steve Aoki, Alison Wonderland, Oliver Heldens, Yellow Claw, and more. This stage was the most elevated in terms of visuals and the technology used for the screens and digital art displayed.

Alison Wonderland Lollapalooza 2021

Alison Wonderland by Mickey Pierre Louis for Lollapalooza 2021

Perry’s stage is popular amongst annual Lollapalooza attendees for EDM acts. This year Solana joined Perry’s to sponsor the stage. Solana is a blockchain platform that supports creators in developing crypto apps with which various music artists and companies are beginning to engage. Solana is also powering Lollapalooza’s first-ever NFTs in celebration of the 30th year anniversary.

Here you can take a look at the live NFTs: https://lollapalooza.live-nfts.com/.

Many of the artists performing on the larger stages were performing at a music festival for the first time this year due to their virality during the 2020 year and quarantine. For example, artists like Jxdn, Giveon, Megan Thee Stallion, and Jack Harlow had rapidly grown their audiences to where they drew in large crowds for their set.

Lollapalooza partnered with Hulu to give music fans at home an opportunity to experience the festival. As 2020 presented challenges for the live music industry, livestreaming has provided accessibility for artists to connect with their audiences outside of live shows. We will begin to see the use of livestreams more for concerts and festivals as events advance to accommodate music fans who are unable to attend the event or are not comfortable with larger in-person events yet. Not only does this create more accessibility to music fans, but it also will scale the events at a much larger scope.

Live music and touring professionals have taken the hardest hit during the pandemic and the uncertainty of when things would all go back to “normal.” Lollapalooza and C3 Presents could be an example for event organizers planning festivals set for 2021 in various ways, starting with requiring vaccination records and the 72-hour negative COVID-19 testing before the show date. It’s time for production companies to step up and take these necessary steps to ensure the safety of their staff and concertgoers.

Following Lollapalooza and C3 Presents, AEG’s Goldenvoice announced yesterday, “Goldenvoice will require proof of full vaccination for concertgoers and event staff at all of our venues and festivals. The vaccination policy, limited only as required by law, will be in full effect nationwide no later than October 1, 2021. Leading up to October 1, we will implement a policy of showing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of show date where permitted.”

As these are just the first steps to ensure live music does not take another shutdown, event organizers should work with certified COVID-19 Compliance Officers (CCO) for their tours and festivals. The importance of keeping concertgoers safe is significant. Although, some individuals are not mindful of the hard work and large teams that put themselves at risk to create these memorable moments for attendees. Staffing CCOs at the start of event planning could ensure the best up-to-date practices for event organizers to carry out shows as safely as possible.

The event production company C3 Presents will be requiring the same Health Pledge for the upcoming Bonnaroo music festival in September.

Check out some of the full sets from Lollapalooza: 

Tyler, The Creator full set

Oliver Heldens full set

Steve Aoki full set

Marshmello full set