Lollapalooza gave a voice to alternative rock and grunge music during the 1990´s. The idea was conceived by Jane´s Adiction singer Perry Farrel during 1991 as a farewell tour for his band. After a few years of struggle Lollapalooza became a huge success in Chicago. During 2010, the company behind Lolla expanded its tentacles to the Latin American market with dates in Chile, Brazil (2011), Buenos Aires (2013) and finally Berlin (2014).
Colombia would have been the fourth Latin American country to host Lollapalooza. September 17 and 18 where the dates chosen for Lana del Rey, Wiz Khalifa and The Chainsmokers to perform as the main headliners. On July the 1st, T310/Absent Papa the company behind Lolla Colombia announced the festival was being cancelled. Why was Lollapalooza Colombia cancelled?
I´ve been close to T310/Absent Papa, the promoters behind the upcoming musical scene in Bogota, Medellín and some other cities in Colombia. They are the company behind Estereo Picnic Festival, Sonar Bogotá and dozens of medium size shows every year in Colombia. T310 started promoting small parties with Choquibtown, Divagash, La 33, and Bomba Estereo. They´ve worked hard, lost money and fought hard against a corrupted country, where musical events have enormous taxes, PRO´s are a monopoly and consumers are not used to pay high rates to attend live shows. More than that, people don´t have enough money to pay for festivals.
Lollapalooza Bogotá was an effort behind an independent promotion company to keep a dream alive. It is difficult to produce a festival like Lollapalooza in a different time of the year from a sequence of festivals that take place during the same period of time. This means getting an artist to play on a circuit of 4 Lollapaloozas (Sao Paulo March 12-13, Buenos Aires March 18-19, Santiago, Chile March 19-20) is easier than to get an artist to play only for Lollapalooza Colombia on a very different date than all of the other Lollapalooza Festivals in Latin America. Costs for moving an artist or band from other countries are extremely high and Lollapalooza Colombia was scheduled to be done in October, a time in the year where artists have to fly from different parts of the world instead of moving directly from a nearby country. According to the site Consequence of Sound Rihanna´s performance in Lolla Colombia was cancelled due to fear of getting the ZICA virus. There is no real evidence about who was the main headliner or if was because of this virus, but the truth is that producing a music festival and trying to make a country who´s root music isn´t rock or pop or alternative, buy tickets and approve a high percentage of the lineup takes time and money.
But what does this cancelation represent for the music scene in Colombia? Although the country had been isolatated from some of the biggest musical acts in the world due to insecurity problems, Colombia´s music scene has been growing at an incredible pace during the past 8 to 10 years thanks to music festivals like Estereo Picnic. The Rolling Stones (2016), Beyonce (2013) and Madonna (2012) made their first appearances in Colombia in the past four years and Bono recently said he was happy for what was happening in Colombia during the 2016 World Economic Forum.
Colombia´s music scene is growing. Coldplay, Guns n´Roses, Metallica Iron Maden and Aerosmith have performed sold out shows during the past years. Lolla´s cancelation in Colombia does not mean that Colombia doesn´t have the infrastructure, the venues, the attendance or the resources needed to produce a world class festival. The reason might be that Colombia is about to start living one of its best moments in history and this situations have to happen. Colombia´s musical scene is still being created, people that have never been able to attend an international festival don´t know how to approach or discover a new one. Is not their fault, is just the evolution of a country and its musical understanding. Cancelling one of the biggest music festivals is one of many challenges to open up Colombia´s path and name in the music industry. It was a tough decision for sure, but new opportunities are coming. Hermoso Ruido, a small independent festival was recently announced. Although big international names are not part of the lineup, this festival will continue to create Colombia´s undiscovered music scene.