Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Lollapalooza India 2.0: Global and indie artistes, immersive experiences promise to make it bigger, better

After the massive success of the 2023 edition, the music festival is back in Mumbai over the coming weekend—only at a larger scale, with a diverse lineup and many more experiences for festivalgoers

Naini Thaker
Published: Jan 25, 2024 03:17:55 PM IST
Updated: Jan 25, 2024 04:17:07 PM IST

Lollapalooza India 2.0: Global and indie artistes, immersive experiences promise to make it bigger, betterMumbai is only the eighth city in the world where the global festival takes place and the only Lollapalooza in Asia.

In January 2023, 60,000 fans took over the Mahalakshmi Racecourse in Mumbai, as more than 40 artistes performed across two days for the first edition of Lollapalooza. The festival served as a melting pot of culture and musical genres, featuring everything from pop, rock, metal and punk rock to hip-hop, indie, electronic dance music (EDM) and techno, and featured international and homegrown artistes like Imagine Dragons, The Strokes, Prateek Kuhad and Divine, among others. After its success, the global festival is back in Mumbai over the coming weekend for its second edition, which is expected to be even more electrifying.

Mumbai is only the eighth city in the world where the global festival takes place and the only Lollapalooza in Asia. The India edition is being produced by Farrell, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, C3 Presents and BookMyShow. “India’s music landscape has witnessed exceptional growth in the past few years. Slowly but steadily the country has become a cornerstone for some of the biggest music bands, artistes and performances in the world,” says Owen Roncon, chief of business, Live Entertainment, BookMyShow.

Lollapalooza India 2.0

This year, the two-day festival will feature four stages and over 20 hours of live music, with diverse global and local artistes. “Lollapalooza India’s first edition put India on the global festival circuit map and boosted the international artiste roster flowing into the country, setting new benchmarks and raising the bar for the Indian music festival and entertainment ecosystem,” adds Roncon.

The festival will host an iconic comeback of Sting, who first graced the Indian stage in 1980 with The Police. The Jonas Brothers brings their energy for an exclusive, Asia-only date on their ongoing global tour. OneRepublic and Lauv return to India to serenade their massive fanbases, while Halsey makes her grand debut as a Lollapalooza India 2024 headliner. The two-day festival will also showcase global artistes such as Anoushka Shankar, The Rose and Indie artistes such as Parvaaz, When Chai Met Toast, Prabh Deep and Forbes India 30 Under 30 Alumni Dualist Inquiry aka Sahej Bakshi.

“The festival is also gearing up for an even more exciting second edition with a steadfast community-first approach, curating a world of non-stop entertainment that is immersive, interactive, holistic and transcendental,” says Roncon.

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Outside of food and music, the festival promises to be an “immersive and unforgettable” experience with activities curated by brands such as Budweiser Beats Energy Drink, Johnnie Walker Refreshing Mixer Non-Alcoholic, Nexa, RuPay, Levi’s, Maybelline New York, Cred and Bisleri Vedica Himalayan Spring Water, among others.

Levi’s had collaborated with Lollapalooza in 2023 as well. That experience, says Amisha Jain, senior vice president and managing director of SAMEA, Levi Strauss & Co, “Helped foster stronger connections with the brand's audience and build a new relationship with a newer generation of audience, solidifying the brand’s position as the unofficial wardrobe of musicians and fans.” This year, the brand is back to strengthen the brand’s connection with the revered Tailor Shop experience, where festivalgoers will have the opportunity to personalise their Levi's goodies with exclusive designs through tailored panelling, heat press stickers, and screen prints. “We have collaborated with distinguished Indian artistes Aaquib Wani, Mira F Malhotra (Kohla Studios), and Anirudh Mehta (thebigfatminimalist). The Tailor Shop will showcase 15 designs inspired by the essence of music, encapsulating unforgettable moments and cherished memories,” adds Jain.

Even Budweiser is back collaborating with the festival for its second edition. This year, once again, it is set to create unforgettable experiences for Lolla attendees by curating activations like ‘Bud & Burgers’ and setting up immersive brand experience zones like the ‘Budweiser Brew District’.

“These experiences go beyond just music, helping integrate Budweiser into every aspect of the festival experience, from the music to the food to the vibe,” says Vineet Sharma, vice president, marketing, AB InBev India. “Partnering with a global music giant like Lollapalooza has solidified Budweiser's position as a partner in growing and elevating the Indian music scene. This, coupled with our engaging on-ground experiences, fostered a deeper emotional connection with festivalgoers, leading to increased brand affinity and loyalty.”

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Apart from these experiences, the Lolla Food Park is expected to be a “gastronomic paradise” with over 50 F&B brands, across categories—from Mumbai’s local food to global cuisines. Lollapalooza is also introducing Lolla Cookie Merch, an interactive cookie wall by Cookie Co that promises an immersive and delicious experience. There will also be fun games including Cat Rack, Hoop Shot, Buzzwire, Dino Squad, Basketball, Lobster Pot, Ring toss, Hook-a-duck that will be functional throughout festival hours on both days.

The festival’s producer and promoter BookMyShow is bringing its charity initiative BookASmile, spearheading pivotal principles of impact: Sustainability, inclusivity and accessibility as part of the #LollaForChange initiative. “We are also ensuring an all-inclusive experience by enabling Sign Language Interpreters to interpret music by the headlining artistes at the main stage for hearing-impaired attendees. BookASmile works closely with disability services and in line with this, there will be personalised services to guide fans who are visually and hearing-impaired to designated riser areas,” reckons Roncon.

Where it all started

“It started out as a waking dream,” says Perry Farrell, who came up with the idea of global music festival Lollapalooza, when their band Jane's Addiction was almost at a breaking point. “William Morris [the agency representing the band] came to me with the idea of doing one more big tour.

hey said you can do anything you want,” adds the artiste and founder of Lollapalooza. So the festival started as a multi-city venue for the band’s farewell tour in 1991. Thirty-two years later, the festival is one of the largest festivals the world over, in the league of Coachella and Tomorrowland.

Though the festival saw quite a few ups and downs initially, since 2005 the festival has only grown—starting from a two-day format to a four-day festival globally. For Farrell, the goal is to start a dialogue among people with music as the common language and for the festival to be a vehicle for bringing people together.

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In the early days, Lollapalooza would travel to 28 states across the United States. Eventually, they settled on making Grant Park in Chicago the annual festival’s home base. “When we come to a new place, we want to know what they are talking about, what their culture is, what is important to them. It is a way to build a family of artistes and musicians and promoters whose business is celebration,” Farrell tells Forbes India.

Infrastructure challenges

Putting together a festival of this stature needs a multifaceted approach—meticulous planning, substantial investment, strategic partnerships and comprehensive logistical arrangements. “We have been extremely prudent in the kind of investments that we have made for Lollapalooza because a festival of this scale is labour-intensive and requires careful planning and vigilance,” he adds. The 2023 edition of Lollapalooza India served as a testing ground after years of research and analysis for producers like BookMyShow. “We brought the festival to India at a time when the country was on the verge of transformation and ready for the scale that accompanied it,” says Roncon.

One of the major challenges in India remains infrastructure. These challenges act as significant obstacles, says Roncon, “when in other countries, large-scale live events are deeply ingrained in the culture, encompassing elements such as sound systems, equipment, trailer parks and various ancillary infrastructure that are integral to bring to life such events.”

Music festivals, much like any other business, take time to become profitable. Without revealing too many details, as per BookMyShow, they have seen a healthy, positive impact from a budgetary perspective in year two already and are positively moving in the right direction.

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As a market, India is still at a very nascent stage when it comes to live entertainment. “Hence,” says Roncon, “Our current focus involves strategic investments in building an ecosystem where both fans and brands share a mutual commitment to fostering the growth of this festival and the live entertainment industry year after year.”

One such strategic investment is a cutting-edge stage, called the VerTech Stage, that will be introduced at the festival. Acquired from Star Live, global live event infrastructure leader, which represents a significant engineering milestone and is the world’s first all-steel stage to feature on the Indian live entertainment landscape. This stage marks a departure from traditional aluminium structures, offering unprecedented performance capability, sustainability and resilience. Festival attendees will witness its unveiling at the BUDX main stage this year.

“Its sheer scale makes Lollapalooza one of its kind as the largest and most diverse music festival to ever step into India, opening the gateway for music lovers all over the continent,” concludes Roncon.