Two huge music festivals updated the image of the massive outdoor concert over the weekend. Lollapalooza gathered approximately 160,000 people in downtown Chicago, and featured about 130 bands, including Iggy, the Stooges, and Pearl Jam. The second annual U.S. Virgin Festival brought together nearly 74,000 fans in Baltimore to hear over 40 bands, such as the Beastie Boys, Smashing Pumpkins, The Police, and Wu Tang Clan.
Lollapalooza was a hit, thanks largely to Iggy and the Stooges, said Bob Gendron on RollingStone.com. At 60-years-old, Iggy Pop is still "pure animal, a sinewy banshee of a frontman better than a majority of artists two-thirds his age." Pearl Jam was "on fire," too, especially when Ben Harper joined in for a cover of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World." The Polyphonic Spree rocked "like The Partridge Family on steroids," and Daft Punk drove home the message that "the future is here, and it's loud, vibrant, and not surprisingly, digital."
The Beasties Boys helped make Virgin Festival a success, too, said Laura Checkoway on RollingStone.com. They looked dapper in black suits, and rocked "Brass Monkey" "like it was 1986." The recently reunited Police were great; Sting was in "top form" and Andy Summers delivered "an amazing series of solos." Virgin founder Richard Branson stood on the side of the stage for the Wu Tang Clan's set, and headliners Smashing Pumpkins proved that they are "still built to rock hard and loud in front of tens of thousands at epic outdoor concerts."
Too bad Lollapalooza had such a corporate feel to it, said Greg Kot on ChicagoTribune.com. It was the type of festival where "everything's a brand and has a sign and slogan to prove it." You can't say that about the Virgin Festival, said John Voket on LiveDaily.com. Organizers set up information booths and outreach on "causes supporting the homeless, the hungry, children lacking healthcare, even offering Maryland residents a place to register to vote." The '60s are over, but it's still possible to throw a party with a strong social and political conscience.