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Lollapalooza founder takes it up a notch

By Denise Quan, CNN
updated 9:53 PM EDT, Sat August 4, 2012
Perry Farrell, the founder of Lollapalooza, says this year's event will
Perry Farrell, the founder of Lollapalooza, says this year's event will "take it up a notch, and we're taking it to four in the morning."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 100,000 attendees a day are expected to visit Lollapalooza this weekend
  • The fest has grown in size, but founder Perry Farrell hopes after-parties will offer intimacy
  • Headliners include The Black Keys and Jack White
  • Farrell: "We're taking it up a notch, and we're taking it to four in the morning"

(CNN) -- With the arrival of Lollapalooza 2012, 100,000 attendees are expected to descend on Chicago's Grant Park every day this weekend.

The event has been sold out for several months, with The Black Keys, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jack White headlining in addition to an Ozzy Osbourne-led reunion of Black Sabbath. But equally important to Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell is his contingent of top DJs, which include Kaskade and Bassnectar.

"We are now blowing out our dance artists. We have two electronic dance musicians headlining. One is Justice, the other Avicii," he said with genuine excitement.

Dance artists are the new rock stars, and they're commanding rock star salaries.

"They're making millions," Farrell said. "The agents are asking the same fees they would ask for a rock artist because they're saying, 'Look, we're as attractive as a rock artist, so why shouldn't we be making the same amount of money?'"

Farrell's band, Jane's Addiction, won't be performing at Lolla this year, but on Saturday night they'll be playing an after-party at the nearby Aragon Ballroom. Although tickets sold out in five minutes, fans of the pioneering alternative group will be able to see the show via a 360-degree live webcast.

Lollapalooza has grown in size, but Farrell hopes to restore some of the intimacy with after-parties -- both official and unofficial (at last count, there were 31 official after-parties listed on the Lollapalooza website).

"We're taking the city, and we're filling the arteries of the city and its nightclubs and ballrooms with our Lollapalooza audience and musicians. We're taking it up a notch, and we're taking it to four in the morning," he said. "I just love that. It's not just Grant Park -- the whole city is alive!"

From 1991-1997, Lollapalooza was a touring festival. It went on hiatus in 1998, returned for one year in 2003, then resurrected itself as a single location event in 2005. It has been an annual fixture in Grant Park ever since. In 2011, Farrell expanded the brand to Chile and Brazil in 2012, and will be making a big announcement about Lollapalooza's plans for expansion this Sunday. (Hint: It's not a Lollapalooza cruise.)

Back in Chicago, doors have barely opened on Lollapalooza 2012, but wheeling and dealing is already in motion to secure next year's lineup.

"You've got to really work at it. You've got to bring to the people something that they didn't expect, they won't forget and they've never had before. It's not easy to do that," Farrell said. "That's something you have to pull out of the ether."

His dream headliner?

"There are a couple of legendary rock groups that I would love to get. Most of the time, the reason that you don't get to work with them is it's their problem -- meaning they're not together, or they broke up, or they hate each other or they're not healthy."

But in the meantime, Farrell already has one ace in the hole.

"I already know who's going to be headlining next year," he said with a sly smile.

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