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Lollapalooza 2012: A Look At Perry's Stage

By Jake Guidry in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 2, 2012 6:20PM

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Fans at Perry's Stage photo by Jim Kopeny

Take a look over the line-up of this year’s Lollapalooza and you might notice that there’s no explicit mention of Perry’s, the dance music-focused stage that debuted in 2008. Every year since its inception, Lollapalooza separated the Perry’s lineup from the rest to highlight a new and growing segment of the festival. In those years, the dance music scene exploded and genres like electro and dubstep became wildly popular with youth culture. After four years of immense growth of the stage, Lollapalooza decided to take the training wheels off Perry’s and consider it more than simply a niche or a fad that’s overstayed its welcome. The Perry’s line-up is no longer separated from the rest of the festival because, in large part, it is the festival.

If in 2008 Perry’s was an afterthought - an excuse to throw a few DJs under a tent in a small grassy area - Perry’s as it exists today is something far different. Huge crowds gather to witness and take part in an all-day dance party, and the crowds have grown every year. The growth of dance music, or "EDM" (electronic dance music) as the mainstream media has (insufficiently) been calling it, occurred in conjunction with the rise of Perry's. Since 2008, the stage has seen some of the scene's most popular and trendy acts, including Deadmau5, Skrillex, Diplo, and A-Trak. These tours de force have consistently been apart of the EDM conversation in recent years and it's informed the way Perry's is booked. Bassnectar, Santigold, and Kaskade are each day’s respective headliners, and the rest of the lineup includes a range of big name acts covering everything from electro to dubstep to hip-hop to progressive house.

However, while there’s no disputing the popularity of some of the names playing Perry’s, there still exists a certain homogenization of the acts booked, which we’ve covered in the past. This is an inevitable truth for a festival the size of Lollapalooza, which will look to capitalize on the most popular sounds of the moment. Teenagers and twenty-somethings will surely lust over the aggressive, where’s-the-drop style of dance music that will take over the stage all three days, but for some dance purists, it’s a stage better left unattended for most of the weekend. Still, though, there are a few acts you’d be hard pressed to miss, including Chief Keef, Salva, Skream & Benga, Kid Color, and Little Dragon.

The ascension of Perry’s Stage is a testament to the crossover dance music has made in recent years. Still yet, it provides little window into anything outside what is most popular. In a recent piece by A-Trak in The Huffington Post, he alluded that the crowd plays a significant role in the industry’s general avoidance of trying new things. He writes,

“And to all the new fans just discovering this genre, come to the shows with an open mind. Don't just wait to hear the songs you already know. There's a reason you're not watching a band. DJing is still at the cutting edge of new music. Let yourself be surprised.”

But as long as everyone gets off at the drop, it may be a long time before we see real progress at Perry’s.