By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
That was obvious from the first moment Korn took the stage, cruising in on a pair of lowrider bicycles and sequined Adidas track suits, no less--much like the Beastie Boys. The sound, however, was all hardcore, Rage Against the Machine meets Metallica. It was received by the kids with near-riot enthusiasm; they tore out row after row of seating and began passing them overheard while security waged a hopeless battle to stop them.
Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis took the stage with a fury, pounding out tunes like the angst-anthem "No Place to Hide" from their latest release, Life is Peachy, and "Faget" from their debut, Korn. Davis then left and returned in a kilt, playing the bagpipes. Korn--after receiving little to no commercial radio airplay--relies on events like this to create an audience for their music. That audience is primarily young, disenchanted adolescents--approximately 15 years old--with high levels of hormones and frustration. It's the demographic of the new 'Palooza-goer.
Backstage, Davis was being mauled by reporters and fans. "Last year wasn't that good because Perry bailed out, and it wasn't a 'Palooza," Davis said of this year's tour. "But now it seems like there's such diverse music out here--there's somethin' for everybody, and it gives bands a chance for, like, kids who came to see Snoop to see Korn, and maybe they like us, and they get us in front of new crowds, so we can get even bigger. Shit, it's fuckin' cool! And to get the kind of reception we got today, holy shit!"
Out on the main stage, trip-hop culprit Tricky was just finishing up his set. Born of Brighton, England's Massive Attack, Tricky announced his solo status with 1994's Maxinquaye, casting out paranoid rhymes and beats for the future, yet his set seemed totally out of place at an upbeat outdoor event like Lollapalooza. It wasn't until Snoop Doggy Dogg took the stage that hip hop really moved the crowd. Snoop executed a top-notch set, delivering it "Doggy Style" all the way.
Acts on the second stage--which sat unprotected in the searing heat--included the Eels, Radish, and Summercamp; not surprisingly, for the most part they were poorly attended.
Backstage once again, MTV newsgirl Serena Altschul interviews Tricky as Farrell looks on. Asked if he is enjoying the day, Farrell immediately turns the question around on you. You respond that you are, in fact, having a good time--thanks very much--and note that the Brainforest, which includes a giant hamburger and graphic illustrations of cow and chicken slaughter, is surrounded by vendors selling kebabs and hot dogs.
"That's a very smart question," Farrell says, with a look that seems to speak of years of glue-sniffing. "Well, if I said 'no meat,' then I wouldn't have so many people coming and hearing about other things that are also important."
Asked what he thinks of this year's lineup, he again flips the question around. You respond that the lineup is good, and he smiles. "Good," he says. "Getting to see lots of things and use your mind? It's much more of a learning thing, isn't it? It's not like 'put your beers up in the air and wave 'em around like you just don't care.' It's a lot more like walkin' around and 'What's that? What's that?'"
"Actually, it's about that close [make the a little bit sign with fingers] to 'wave your beers in the air.'"
"You think? Hmmm."
Perry's got a lot of faith in young people, and perhaps he's being a bit naive in that department. He'd honestly like to think that kids are learning something here, but the parking-lot mentality reigns supreme.
Speaking to a couple of young girls sitting in the grass, you get an idea of the typical mindset. Asked what they've been up to today, Samantha from Boca Raton responds, "Sitting here smoking pot."
"Have you learned anything interesting?"
"Yeah. I like Snoop Doggy Dogg."
And what do you think of Perry Farrell?"
"Um, he's the person who started Lollapalooza. He used to sing for Jane's Addiction."
"Cool. When are they playing?"
"They're not. They broke up six years ago."
"I don't think a lot of people here know that."
At any rate, Tool took the stage and played what was undoubtedly the best show of Lollapalooza. Maynard James Keenan, Tool's androgynous lead singer, appeared in a white mask, his head shaved save for a long Chinese-style pigtail, and wearing a bustier with prosthetic breasts. Who says nothing's shocking? As dusk set in, the video screens around the stage ignited with amazing visuals. The sound was incredibly full, encompassing even the farthest reaches of the outdoor complex, while up front the intensity of Tool's lengthy, gut-wrenching songs from ģnima was nearly overwhelming.
At this point, the feeling begins to set in of having gorged yourself on an entertainment buffet to the point of bursting. "A wafer-thin mint? It's only a tiny little thin one." Absolute exhaustion comes along with a feeling of being totally wired--information overload--and there's another band yet to come.
Just when you think Tool has drained every last drop of energy from your body, an angel appears on stage, topless, smoking a cigarette. She exhales, folds up her wings, and Orbital kicks in. Suddenly, almost a full 10 hours after your arrival, Lollapalooza magically transforms into the largest outdoor rave you've ever seen in your life. Kids who were grooving to Tool's sledgehammer energy just moments before are now dancing with abandon to techno music.