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Is This the Most Dad-Friendly Lollapalooza Lineup Ever?

Short answer: Yes, and it’s probably all about money.

One attendee really loving Lollapalooza in 2012.   Photo: Ray Whitehouse

It’s here. As of this morning, Lollapalooza has a lineup, and your 2015 headliners are Paul McCartney, Metallica, and Florence and the Machine. The Internet has been harping all day—what, for instance, happened to Drake?—but one pressing question remains: Is this the daddest Lolla lineup ever?

Short answer: Yes. Of the six humans closing out each night of the festival (Florence, Paul, and the four members of Metallica), five are actual dads. One is a granddad. The bands were even announced at the highly dad hour of 6 a.m., because the early bird gets the worm, as dads say. It’s been 20 years since Metallica’s heyday and 20 more since McCartney’s, and both artists have been notoriously Ludditic in the face of an Internet-age music biz (you still won’t find the Beatles on Spotify, and, well, we know how Metallica feels about Napster).

On top of that, the lineup features bands that sound like your dad’s favorites, including the War on Drugs (Petty/Knopfler), Father John Misty (the Byrds/Animals), and Alabama Shakes (CCR). This year’s corporate sponsors even feature dad-friendly brands such as Toyota, Bud Light, and FYE.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a creaky lineup. If you go to Lolla, you’ll see exactly one Beatle and the most important extant metal band save for Sabbath. It’s just surprising given Lolla’s crowd: According to the festival’s own metrics, 77 percent of last year’s attendees were younger than 35, and 37 percent of them were younger than 25. That means three-quarters of Lolla’s 300,000-person crowd was younger than 10 when Metallica’s Black Album came out, and their parents probably hadn’t even met yet when the Beatles broke up.

So why is Lolla booking bands a few generations older than most of its attendees? It could be to stifle a growing reputation for wasted mud teens, but more likely than not, it’s about money: Millennials don’t have any. Along with last year’s 77 percent attendance by 18-34 year-olds came a leading average salary of less than $25,000 (30 percent of attendees); those who made more than $100,000 came in second at 18 percent. For a festival whose income relies more on corporate sponsorships than ticket sales, it’s in C3’s interest to bolster the $100k crowd—those who can not only legally buy a $10 Bud Light, but can afford 10 of them. (Four of the 15 sponsors this year are alcohol brands.) It’s the sweet spot C3 missed last year in booking OutKast and Eminem—legacy acts to be sure, but not old enough to crack the tenured metalhead and flower-child demos.

That said, credit where it’s due: This year’s lineup is, in general, preposterously better than last year’s, featuring a mix of new acts (Sylvan Esso, Ryn Weaver, FKA Twigs), local talent (Mick Jenkins, Wild Belle, Twin Peaks), freakishly talented babies (Sam Smith, Charli XCX, SZA, Tyler, the Creator) and other groups this reporter would be remiss not to mention (Flying Lotus, Brand New, Strand of Oaks, the Tallest Man on Earth). Lolla’s headliners may be aging ungracefully at the expense of a C3 pay cut, but this year’s mid-roster bands are a welcome improvement on last year’s non-lineup. More to come on the lot of them as summer approaches.

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