For those about to Rock...

a lollapalooza 94 tour diary

by james iha 

Now that Lollapalooza is over (there were 43 dates, running from July 7 to September 5), all I can think is, "Why, why, why in my incomprehensible babble did I agree to write this article, Christina?!" All whining aside (a common trait among alternative rockers), I had fun this summer. I always imagine the '70s to be kinda like Lollapalooza, when you had amazing bills like Foghat, the Steve MiIIer Band and Aerosmith (pre-Alicia Silverstone), and people played Frisbee, danced in the mud and wore sandals. Lollapalooza had more body piercings perhaps. This year there was no Foghat but an "electric yet rocking" array of rock, hip-hop, funk and punk.

One legendary figure to grace the stage most afternoons was Nick Cave (with the Bad Seeds). His seminal work with the Birthday Party and his solo LPs in the '80s were exemplary. What sad goth, punk or new waver didn't listen to Your Funeral My Trial? I did, at least. Always cutting a path amongst the sweatpants-and tanktop-wearing road crews, Nick and company wore suits, Cuban heeled shoes and Rolex watches (Warren G. ain't the only one) even in the most wretched heat. One great Cave moment during the tour happened when he was in our dressing room, observing this tacky, surreal painting on the wall. "I quite like this one," he said. Various people began laughing. "You might laugh at this painting, but it's laughing back at you," he said. Onstage he often threw microphones, fell to his knees screaming and stood on monitors, with feedback souealing, leading his band on a swirling, melodramatic, angst-ridden ride of love. Whew!

Another legend was George Clinton (with the P-Funk Allstars). I think every one was pretty amazed to have this old school perennial, with total dignity and credibility, doing what he does best. In the last year or so, his songs have been sampled for Top Ten hits by Doctor Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Ice Cube. When P-Funk played these songs, the mostly white middle-class audience responded quite raucously. Out of all the bands, George's was the most professional, tight group, with real musicians. Unstoppable, like God driving a path forward, George often cued members of his large band for arrangements and solos, playing the basis of the song then transmining the groove into the space-time continuum (Star Trek fans take note) then coming back to earth with the chorus for the bold finish.

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