By Jon Roig
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Yes kiddies, there was once a magical age when you couldn't buy your "alternative" lifestyle at Hot Topic... when they didn't sell Exploited "Punks Not Dead" shirts at the mall... and when everybody knew that Henry Rollins was full of shit and not the self-proclaimed spokesman of our generation.
Although you might not know it if you attended Lollapalooza this summer. I dunno what I was thinking Ÿ it all seemed like such a good idea at the time. Attend the massive festival of cool alternative music! Don't worry about the cost... the Wildcat will pick up the tab. We'll even throw in a press pass!
I feel sorry for you poor bastards that had to pay for the concert, and let me tell you a little secret: "press pass" isn't a synonym for "backstage pass." It means you have access to the secret chips-and-salsa room behind the stage. The only people back there are various sycophants and hangers-on ... and journalists, of course.
Who's responsible for all this madness? Could it be SATAN? Come to think of it, Perry Farrell ... he even looks a little like the devil. Coincidence? I think not. And, perhaps not coincidentally, Phoenix is hotter than hell. Some drunken frat boy eloquently explained that to me in the bathroom after he glanced at my impressive, but basically useless, press badge thingy. He oughta know, he's going there (or so he told me, but I believe him).
I tried really hard to convince the Wildcat's crack photo staff to wander out into the teeming masses to take a picture of this girl. You had to see her; for me that image says more than a picture of Courtney Love ever could about the ultimate fate of Lollapalooza after five years.
She was (maybe) 12 years old. Green hair. Small backpack. Kurt Cobain, R.I.P. T-shirt.
Yes, she was different ... like all the other different people. And she was wearing pretty much the standard uniform. There's something distinctly disturbing about being stuck in a crowd with 50 million people all trying to express their uniqueness from one another.
I felt so ... normal. But then again, I don't have a three-foot mohawk held up by Elmer's glue. Or a cool T-shirt from a band that nobody has ever heard of. Or carrots stuck in my hair.
The music was decent, although from my position a billion miles from the stage, I couldn't even begin to explain what any of the members of Pavement looked like. But they rocked, pure and simple. So did Beck ... and Mike Watt and Hum on the second stage.
The rest of it was just crap. Granted, I missed the Bosstones and Jesus Lizard, as I was two hours late and totally missed my rendezvous with the elusive Noah Lopez. They confiscated my water at the door... I should've taken that as a bad omen ... especially if you consider that it was like 150 degrees out.
Hair dye was running everywhere. Groups of girls were wearing matching sports bras. Slimy, shirtless guys dominated the half-assed pits near the second stage.
Fun, eh? I brought this all on myself.
I guess I never considered the Courtney Love factor. I mean, Sonic Youth ... they're not my favorite. But you've gotta respect 'em Ÿ they're the elder statesmen of noise guitar, a true "alternative" band that has made good on their own terms. And, Cypress Hill ... they had a giant, gold Buddha and a bong unlike anything I'd ever seen.
Come to think of it, I didn't see it. I was out watching Hum on the second stage. After watching about 2.5 minutes of an all-white crowd tryin' their damnedest to get down to gangsta rap, I decided that my brain was in no shape to experience this sort of contrived debauchery.
But that's cool ... what do I care, eh? Courtney Love, however ... she has to die. Does the world really need more Trent Reznor/Morrisey style self-pitying artists? The free condoms given out by the anti-AIDS folks were met with harsh resistance. What's the deal? How come people's first reaction is to pop an inflated condom floating over the crowd with a song request attatched to it. I kept hoping that Hole would deviate from the program of Nirvana covers and Love's lame sexual innuendo, and pull out the stops to do something epic Ÿ like "Freebird," or that old Europe song "The Final Countdown."
But no. Without any trace of irony, we were subjected to a barrage of feedback and Ms. Love screams of "Kurt" over and over and over again. And, apparently, nobody thought it was funny but me.
But, mostly, I blame the downfall of Lollapalooza on the lack of a good metal band late in the show. No matter what you think of Hole, they just don't rock or whip the crowd into a frenzy ... like Ministry did when I saw them however many years ago. There was magic in the air that night. People rushed the stage, fires were lit, audience members were tossed into the air.
Slayer could have provided all that ... or even White Zombie or any of the metal bands that have deviously repositioned themselves from the distinctly unhip realm of metal into the wildly successful domain of the "alternative" genre.
But, whatever. Maybe I'm too old, and I just don't understand kids these days. That's probably true ... I'm just glad I didn't have to pay for Lollapalooza in anything more than blood, sweat, and tears.
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