There were at least four major festivals across North America this past weekend, not including Tomorrowland wrapping up its third weekend in Belgium, one of which being Lollapalooza in Chicago. The festival would have been celebrating its 20th anniversary last year if not for COVID-19 forcing the 2020 and 2021 editions to postpone, so this year was especially significant in its first full event back.
With Metallica, Dua Lipa, Machine Gun Kelly, J. Cole, Kygo, Kaskade, Green Day, The Kid Laroi, and more representing the top line, there was plenty to enjoy from this year’s lineup. Meanwhile, over on Perry’s Stage on Saturday, something legendary was happening: SIDEPIECE was amassing an unbelievable crowd for their first time playing Lollapalooza.
Those who made the wise decision to stay for the entire set were witness to an incredible sight, as well. Jim Peterik from Survivor came out on stage and Nitti Gritti moved back to the drums as they played a live rendition of “Eye of the Tiger.” Surprisingly, the Chicago-native band has never, not once, played Lollapalooza (which, if you missed it, is in Chicago), so this was a truly historic moment for the Windy City.
After we heard of what happened, we had to reach out to Jason Rosenbaum, part of the management team for SIDEPIECE (on the Party Favor side for Space Camp Management), who also manages Wuki, Rossy, and Hex Cougar, to find out just what it took to make this moment happen.
How or when did the idea materialize to get Jim Peterik from Survivor to appear for the Lollapalooza set?
Jason: So this might actually be the craziest part of the story, funnily enough. This idea only came up back in February, a mere 5 months before the show. I was speaking with a publisher just throwing ideas at the wall for some cool samples that my clients might be able to use, and “Eye Of The Tiger” came up – we had dozens of ideas, but that one stuck with me immediately. I have a couple clients who love sampling, but my mind jumped right away to SIDEPIECE since they’ve already done some of their own bootlegs/edits of some unconventional tracks like this. Gave the stems to Party Favor who started the track, he finished it with Nitti about a week later, and a week after that it was already getting played on their Kiss And Tell tour! The minute I heard the final product and saw the insane reactions at the shows, I knew I had to make something big happen with it and my mind started racing. I thought of every big show we had coming up this year, and then I remembered…Survivor is a Chicago-native band, and we were booked for Lolla. I got to work on it right then and there. To think that we went from a pure idea during a phone call to THAT live performance in 5 months is mind-boggling, and I actually didn’t quite realize that until I typed this answer out.
What, if any, were some of the challenges faced when making the moment happen?
J: Something I think a lot of people don’t fully realize is just how much work it takes to put on an epic live show, even for DJs. The tour managers, the media people, the visuals/production crew, the SFX, the DJ gear, so many pieces have to perfectly align before the DJ even steps on stage to give fans the experience they’re hoping for. The moment you start introducing live elements or planned moments, it gets 10 times more complicated.
Jim is the original guitarist from Survivor and original writer of Eye Of The Tiger, so step 1 was getting in touch with him and seeing if he even liked the song! Once we played it for him he loved it though (shoutout to rock legends with open minds haha) and started talking about live performance ideas, and everyone agreed right away that Lolla was the place to do it. After that, we started sourcing local guitar amps for Jim, Nitti is also a mega-talented musician and decided to play drums live with Jim for even further effect so booking his drum set, the three guys worked together for a few weeks on the exact live version of the song they would play so they could rehearse and prepare timings and the on-stage moments, we worked with our production team to create and program the visuals to accompany the song (naturally we had to use a Rocky montage, layered with some of our other custom content), I’d say there were about 30 hours of phone calls and hundreds of emails to create this one moment. We spent a full 2 hours at Lolla soundchecking the drums, guitar, our visuals, practicing the moment, everything to make sure it was flawless. Truly an insane amount of coordinating, planning, preparing, and rehearsing to create a 3 minute experience for our fans, but one that they’ll hopefully remember for a long time to come.
Absolutely could not have done this without the combined efforts of our entire extended team, so deeply heartfelt gratitude for Ryan, Corynne, Paul, Cheryl, Kleos, Mike, Nate, Ivan, Tyler, Jim, Joe, and most of all, to Dylan and Ricky for trusting me and the team with their careers and believing in us to make it happen for them. I remember being at Miami Music Week, not even a month after the song was made, and asking the team to let me run with my ideas – I can’t thank them enough for trusting me, and I’m so glad I was able to deliver for them.
Now the next challenge is lining up the official release, more news soon 😉
Why Survivor? Why ‘Eye of the Tiger’?
J: One of the mottos we have on team SIDEPIECE is that everything we do needs to be a moment. Whether that’s a big song that hits just the right way, or a crazy show, or even a simple press appearance, we strive to make everything the guys do something worth talking about. When I originally came upon this specific idea, I knew pretty much right away that it fit perfectly into the SIDEPIECE ethos. It was unexpected, it was legendary, it joined disparate worlds, it was something no one had ever done before, and I had to make it happen. “Eye Of The Tiger” is a song that pretty much everyone from every generation knows and has SOME kind of connection to, a song that even someone hearing it for the first time would resonate with, and I knew how impactful it would be in a live setting. Hell, even standing there on stage, knowing what was about to happen, I still had the most nervous energy and excitement I’ve ever had in my life, and when Jim walked out and hit that first guitar chord I felt it coming back to us from the crowd immediately. Pretty sure I was just as hyped as anyone in the crowd, if not even more so, despite knowing it was coming.
Would you rank this as one of your proudest or biggest moments as an artist manager?
J: Hands down, far and above the greatest moment of my career to date. I’d be lying if I said didn’t get incredibly emotional on stage watching the fruits of our labor unfold before my eyes. I got to work with one of my rock idols since I was a kid, I got to help my clients achieve an unforgettable and career-defining show, I got to create a special moment for our fans, and I got to help put together a complete banger of a song. That’s what this job is all about for me, and that show was everything I love about music coalesced into the memory of a lifetime.
We saw the photos from the set and it looked like SIDEPIECE had the stage pretty much as packed as it could be. When you looked out, and saw what you, your team, and your artists had achieved, what was going through your mind?
J: To be totally honest, the only thing going through my mind was “holy shit holy shit holy shit.” Utter disbelief that we’d managed to pull off such a huge undertaking, sheer elation that it was happening just how I’d envisioned it, I simply couldn’t process that my crazy ideas were coming to life in front of me. Things rarely go the way they’re planned, especially in this business, but to see it come together like that, just…wow. The music industry puts us all through the ringer, but moments like that are why I do it, and experiencing them is my reminder to keep on pushing forward.
I’ve heard you personally have a unique connection to Lollapalooza. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
J: The first festival I ever went to outside of my hometown (LA) was Lollapalooza 2009 – I traveled there as a fresh-faced 16-year-old with my best friend, and was able to see legends like Simian Mobile Disco, MSTRKRFT, Bloody Beetroots, Crookers, I even saw The Glitch Mob play a 3pm set on a folding table to a crowd of MAYBE 500 people. Truly the early days of the dance music boom, when it all still felt underground and chaotic and new – I was already a big dance fan, but that single event cemented my love of festivals, dance music culture, and everything that went with it. I went back in 2010 and 2011, and all 3 years are still to this day some of my favorite music festival memories. Lolla is still my favorite festival on the planet even now. I then graduated high school and went to college, but I already knew by that point that I wanted to work in music in some capacity and be involved in the magic I’d begun to witness at events like Lolla. I didn’t have the opportunity to attend Lolla during college, but once I started my career, and saw how this side of the business works, I made up my mind that I wouldn’t attend again until I had an artist performing on the lineup.
This year marked 11 years since I’d last attended, and it was more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined to see the goal I’d set for myself come to pass, and in SUCH a wild way. I’m so blessed to get to work with such talented people, and helping make their dreams come true is my dream come true.
I’m not sure if this moment was a specific goal you’d set out for the project, but looking back I’m sure it’s going to be a proud moment overall. What would you hope to accomplish next with SIDEPIECE?
J: I certainly never helped launch SIDEPIECE with the thought that we’d someday be working with Survivor, that’s for sure haha. What a whirlwind (not even) 3 years it’s been!
I think it’s going to be pretty hard to top what we just pulled off, but that’s the fun and the challenge in management – now it’s time to come up with even crazier ideas and make those happen, too. One of my biggest personal goals with the project is to find creative and unique ways to bridge the gap between the underground/tech house/house scene and the more mainstream music sphere, something I feel the guys already excel at with their songwriting and production, in an authentic and impactful way that all kinds of fans can resonate with in some way.
We’re always looking for ways to think outside the box, accomplish things no one ever expected from us, and make every song and show bigger and better than the last. I’m already working on that next big moment for next year, it’s still under wraps so you’ll just have to wait and see, but Lollapalooza 2022 has given me the confidence that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to and I can’t wait for everyone to see what else is in store! Everybody needs a SIDEPIECE after all…
All photos via Tyler Fuhrmeister