Review: Cavalier Daily

Lollapalooza 1995 showcased mediocre music, fab fashions
by Emily Vannoy

RALEIGH, N.C. – I always had entertained the idea of going to Lollapalooza, but never thought I would end up going, until five days before the show here, when the opportunity came out of the blue.

Every picture I had seen of past Lollapaloozas showed large fields and mosh pits in front of a large stage. Or maybe those were pictures from Woodstock. Either way, Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Raleigh did not look like I expected it to.

In front of the stage, privileged fans who wanted to watch the show peacefully were relegated to a small area of a standing room. And behind that was a seated area.

Security guards blocked off the entire section, and to gain admittance you had to present your ticket. I spent most of the show with the majority of the audience: on the large, once grassy hill.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the Jesus Lizard started off the day-long affair. Although less well-known than many of the other acts, the bands put on a great show for their fans, as more people filled the arena.

Beck gave a little more life to the show, when audience members song along with songs such as “F—kin’ With My Head.” As he began “Loser,” however, the crowd jumped to its feet to move out of the way or join the mosh pit on the hill. The pit stayed there for the rest of the show.

Elastica joined the tour when Sinead O’Connor dropped out because of her pregnancy. For unexplained reasons, Moby, who played second stage at last summer’s Lollapalooza, replaced Elastica at the Raleigh and Austin, Texas, shows.

Moby added quite a different dimension to the show with his techno-rave music style. People, however, continued to mosh to techno versions of “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Stairway to Heaven.”

Pavement managed to drain most of the life out of the show, when the crowd checked out the second stage or resumed its seats just to sit back and listen.

I saw Pavement last fall when they played a great show at what is now Crossroads Live!, and the small club atmosphere made for a much better show than the large amphitheater at Walnut Creek.

Hole and Cypress Hill definitely put on the best shows overall, though. The two groups have been more active in the popular music scene recently and thus received a better crowd participation.

For its show, Cypress Hill pulled out all the stops. It decorated the stage with marijuana plants, hemp and a large inflatable Buddha, giving the feeling of a toked-up jungle.

Cypress Hill interacted with the audience members, getting the whole crowd to wave its hands in the air in support of marijuana legalization. Signs in the audience, saying “Bob Dole, F–k No” incited the band to express its views about politics.

During the song, “Insane in the Membrane,” the group substituted Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole’s, R. Kan., name for President Clinton’s and sang, “tell Bob Dole to go and inhale.” It even encouraged the crowd to light up, causing tightened security and the dismissal of several fans.

As its finale, Cypress Hill brought out a 10-foot double chamber bong, to emphasize once more how we all need to work together for legalization.

Hole changed the setting dramatically with its stage decorations, which included a silver sheet as the backdrop, disco balls and of course lots of doll parts.

Courtney Love is one performer you either hate or respect. Whatever you feel (I personally like her), Hole’s set sounded wonderful, and the crowd gave the band a great reception. At the beginning, she asked everyone to yell “Freebird,” just so she could hear some real Southerners say it.

She kept up her usual antics throughout the show. That kept everyone, particularly security, who already were busy putting out bonfires on the hill, on their toes.

Love surprisingly performed Nirvana’s “Pennyroyal Tea,” a song clearly expressing her deceased husband’s pain. She also included its usual tribute to Duran Duran with “Hungry Like the Wolf,” along with songs from the group’s album “Live Through This.”

In previous Lollapalooza shows, Love had made a habit of throwing herself into the pit and letting audience members tear off her clothes before going backstage in her underwear. She teased the audience in Raleigh by walking back and forth across the stage. By the end, she only threw out her guitar to the crowd, though.

By the time Sonic Youth hit the stage, much of the crowd had migrated out to the parking lot and gone home. Previous headlining bands, Jane’s Addiction (1991), Red Hot Chili Peppers (1992), Primus (1993) and Smashing Pumpkins (1994) had the power to draw in large crowds selling out most major arenas. This year’s Lollapalooza did not have the big name draw of past events, and in Raleigh, you still could purchase tickets at the door.

Headliner Sonic Youth has been active in the alternative-music scene for several years, but its last release, “Experimental Jetset, Trash and No Star,” provided nothing of notice other than the track, “Bull in the Heather.”

The crowd and not the bands, however, became Lollapalooza’s main attraction. The audience looked like one big fashion show. Hair colors spanned every color of the rainbow, and a few Mother Nature never intended. And of course people came with enough body piercings to make metal detectors go wild.

But it was just that, a fashion show. Any observer could pick out the ones who normally dress that odd and those who do not. I am sure the next day, most fans traded in their gas station shirts, ripped jeans and Doc Martens, for T-shirts, Duckheads and Tevas. They rinsed the dye out of their hair and scrubbed off their fake tattoos.

Much has changed since Perry Farrell gave birth to the first Lollapalooza in 1991. Similar concerts such as the H.O.R.D.E. tour and last year’s Woodstock revival have drawn the mystique away form the Lollapalooza experience. Thirty-five dollar tickets, $25 T-shirts and $4 bottles of water again prove we live in a country whose citizens want to market everything.

But I never would trade in the experience. Telling my kids and grandkids I actually went will be just as cool as my father’s stories of how he almost ended up at the original Woodstock.