Reinhart hopes Lollapalooza concert boosts her profile
For rock fans, the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago's Grant Park is a chance to see a dizzying array of bands.
For the up-and-coming artists onstage, the fest is something different -- a chance to reach a wider audience.
Wheeling native Haley Reinhart, a former "American Idol" contestant who recently released her debut album, will take the Lollapalooza stage shortly after 1 p.m. Friday, the first day of the fest.
Reinhart's danceable, soul-infused brand of pop isn't the norm at Lollapalooza, but that's what has her so excited about performing there.
"It will give me a chance to really make my name," she said. "The fact that I'm the first 'Idol' to do this, and that I'll be playing for people who might not be familiar with me -- I feel like this is a great way to break out a bit, build my audience."
Lollapalooza is one of the biggest music festivals in the country. Well over 100 bands -- the headliners include the Black Keys, Jack White and a reunited Black Sabbath -- will perform on eight stages throughout the weekend. It's expected to draw 300,000 people to Grant Park during its three-day run.
Reinhart looks at Lollapalooza as another milestone on a journey that began with "Idol," continued during the American Idols LIVE! Tour and gained momentum with the recent release of her album "Listen Up!"
"I'm so thrilled about it -- I still think it's crazy to see my name on a lineup that includes the Black Keys, Black Sabbath, the Shins," she said. "As soon as I get near Grant Park (on Friday), I know I'm going to start losing control."
Music industry experts say that performing at a festival like Lollapalooza remains a powerful way for an artist to get noticed and heard, and that interest can build weeks ahead of time.
Josh Zanger, a publicist for Chicago label Bloodshot Records, said the label received a slew of inquiries about JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, a Bloodshot act that will play Lollapalooza at noon on Saturday, as soon as the lineup was announced.
"They'd been climbing for awhile, but that announcement put more focus on them," Zanger said. "Many people look at a gig like Lollapalooza as a big step foreword."
Still, Zanger and others said Lollapalooza isn't likely to lead to immediate multiplatinum success. The fest's massive size is one issue; bands often play simultaneously on the various stages, dividing the crowd.
Arnold Pan, music editor at the online magazine PopMatters.com, said another issue is the fact that Lollapalooza and similar fests have stretched their musical scope a bit too wide.
"Because these current festivals have become so broad in the musical genres they feature -- basically being all things to all audiences -- what does it really mean to say a band is playing (California music fest) Coachella or Lollapalooza?" Pan said via email. "Playing in a festival these days doesn't create a mental picture of what a band is like."
Pan added, though, that it would never hurt an up-and-coming artist or band to step onto the Lolla stage.
"Even if you're a bit player in the festival, there are hundreds of other bands who'd love to switch places with you."