The only tie-dye I remember from Lollapalooza '95 was a cut-rate, red- and orange-splotch job worn by this drunken dweeb who kept spraying me with spit during Cypress Hill's gangbuster set. "Hits from the bong!" he kept yowling behind me. "Hits from the bong!" Fifteen minutes after the East L.A. Spanglish rappers had performed their pro-pot anthem, he was still obliviously at it: "Hits from the bong! Hits from the bong!" Then he feebly attempted a crowd-carry and belly-flopped on my head.
I present all this to justify the warm sense of satisfaction I felt an hour later when, three songs into Hole's gig, I saw him swarmed and brutally taken down by four beefy security goons. I don't know what he did. Maybe they didn't like his shirt. Maybe he was waving a shotgun shell at Courtney. Maybe the guards just got tired of his yelling. Regardless, the last image of a tie-dyed tee shirt I have from Lollapalooza is of its wearer being dragged out of Desert Sky Pavilion in a choke hold.
It's a fitting one, I think: Out, spirit of the Sixties! We exorcise you from this festival of triumph over classic rock! No more must the youth of America make the choice between dinosaur rock and Eighties sugar pop. This is 1995, by God! We've got grunge, we've got hip-hop, and, best of all, we've still got punk! Punk on major labels and commercial radio, no less! Sonic Youth is headlining the biggest commercial tour of the summer (inject maniacal laughter). It's the final victory of indie rock--who cares that it's ten years overdue? Out, out, damn tie-dye! Hey, Garcia: Later, Jerry!
(All right, all right. No need to speak ill of the Dead. Even at Lollapalooza, there was an air of respectful sorrow at Jerry's passing. New Times photo guru Tim Archibald and I asked scores of Lollapaloozers--fans and artists alike--to reflect on Garcia's death. Check out the photo documentary on page 97).
Haight Street and Telegraph Avenue, Melrose, Capitol Hill, and B and Second streets in the deep East Village seem to live in every state now, 20,000 strong, from town to town to town. You can get Doc Martens anywhere. It's a Lollapalooza nation.--Gina Arnold
It all started here. The Lollapalooza vision became reality on July 14, 1991, at Compton Terrace on the Gila Indian Reservation. Fifteen thousand fans baking their brains in 110-degree heat to hear Jane's Addiction, the Rollins Band, the Butthole Surfers and Ice-T, among others. Here was rock critic and longtime Amerindie supporter Gina Arnold's first take:
"I've had my doubts about the righteousness of the Lollapalooza phenomenon. And yet, when I saw Henry Rollins--you remember Henry, formerly in Dischord's SOA and later on in Black Flag--face down the Compton Terrace crowd. . . . I felt a very personal sense of achievement. And by the time I saw them, later in the day, chanting 'Want to be a cop killer' along with Body Count, I knew for a fact that something momentous was occurring. It was the first whisper, a ghostly sigh of success, a rumor whistling across the plain, that the old guard was changing. Forget mainstream radio and the color-bound gridlock of the rest of the industry: The ecstatic reception of Ice-T's new band by 15,000 unbriefed Arizona teenagers said that there might be room in the real world after all for challenging music. At least there is a place, now, for the world to hear it."
That's one thought for Lollapalooza-bashers to consider.
Here's another: The positive impact of Lollapalooza on this country's music industry cannot be denied. The scores of major-market radio stations that shifted their format from classic to modern rock, the ongoing punk renaissance, MTV's addition of hours of "alternative" programming, and, most important, the trend of major labels signing and promoting bands whose sound and message formerly relegated them to indie-label obscurity--all of this can be traced, at least in part, to Lollapalooza's financial success.
So why do so many dis it so hard?
Some of it is selfish backlash by indie fiends who are upset to find that "their" music has irreversibly crossed over. "How could our music appeal to them, too? How dare it even try?" wrote Arnold of fan reaction when the first wave of underground bands broke through. "We were like horrible kindergartners, unwilling to share our secret toys with the world at large."
It's a natural reaction, but a sadly ironic one, given that engineering such a revolution of taste was supposedly the goal of the Amerindie movement in the first place.