For those of you who aren't able to make the three-and-a-half hour flight to Lollapalooza in Chicago next week, there's some good news: the show will be streamed live online. Just like Coachella, Lollapalooza is making the event available to those who can't attend, which is cool that you can see things happen in real time, like whatever surprise would be in store a la the Tupac hologram. The stream, presented by Dell and You Tube, allows fans to once again watch acts like Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Black Keys, Frank Ocean and more from their laptop, home or work (shhhh!) computer.
Yet this poses the question: does this widespread festival streaming take away from the concert going experience or festival culture in general? Some may say yes because although the event has been streaming in some way shape or form over the past few years, the technology has caught up to where fans don't have to leave their computers to see what's going down. This takes away from the mystique of actually being at the event, having it readily available to the masses. Isn't that what made Woodstock so legendary? If that was streamed or broadcasted, it wouldn't have had nearly the folklore that spread via word of mouth. And of course there's the fact that freeloaders like us (yeah, we'll be watching the shit outta this stream) will be able to enjoy all the highlights without paying over $300 ticket. Does that seem fair?
It's nice to see that the festival organizers understand the value of bringing the show, and subsequently the brand to a greater audience. Due to Lollapalooza's growing popularity (it expanded to include two weekends in Sao Paulo, Brazil this year), it's understandable that the organizers want to make it accessible to everyone. That's cool as well, just as long as both they and attendees understand that the old credo “what happens as the festival, stays at the festival” isn't going to fly anymore. For all the pomp and circumstance of a live stream, you could get caught doing something on camera that you wouldn't normally do at a traditional concert. So beware–these days, there's more than one way to end up as a GIF on an alt-weekly website.
Live streaming isn't the worst thing in the world, after all this is 2012 and festival needs to expand in order to survive. In addition to Lollapalooza, Dell and You Tube have done this for New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Bonnaroo, and will be streaming Austin City Limits in October. Ticketholders just have to understand that if they're going to be attending shows that are live streaming, be careful that they don't do something they'd regret on camera. Though they should also still remember that being a live spectator of a festival and being a part of one are definitely two different things.