Review: San Francisco Chronicle

Love Loses it at Lollapalooza
by Sam Whiting
August 19, 1995

Hole’s Shoreline set cut short when Courtney scuffles with fans.

An emotional and defiant Courtney Love jolted alive a heat- stricken Lollapalooza last night by leaving the Shoreline Amphitheatre stage twice to challenge members of the audience before she was finally carried away in the arms of a security guard. On her daughter Frances Bean’s third birthday, she first went after two men, flipping them off, then jumped off the stage after them, apparently because they were showing insufficient enthusiasm.

After she was carried out of the arena, the music of Nirvana, her late husband, Kurt Cobain’s, band, was piped in on the grounds, his voice singing, “All alone is all we are.”

Love had been in tears for much of her set. Clad in a black leather miniskirt and matching sleeveless vest, with a black fishnet-stockinged leg placed atop a speaker monitor, she strummed an aqua guitar at high voltage, backed by her band Hole. It was four screaming songs before she took a long pull of a cigarette, and addressed the crowd. “Let’s hear some respect for Elastica,” she exhorted, then “louder, you f — p –.” The crowd responded as much out of fear as appreciation, but the best response of all came to her plea for “respect for Frances Bean Cobain, who’s 3-years-old today.” The she led a happy-birthday sing-along.


Love’s glittery, emotional set — she was noticeably crying through much of it — was like a cool breeze against the hot wind that blew the rock-and-grunge road show into Mountain View for its fifth-annual visit — at least until things got bizarre. Sonic Youth closed the show with its particular brand of spacy reverb-heavy rock. Even with an elaborate psychedelic light show behind them, Youth couldn’t match the spectacle of Love’s histrionics.

The absence of a major-name headliner didn’t shrink the crowd, which arrived through the afternoon and into the night in what was predicted to be a sellout by the time Courtney Love and Hole took the stage promptly at 8:25.

The top-billed act was Sonic Youth, but it was clear that Hole was the main draw, followed by Elastica, a female British pop-punk band that replaced Sinead O’Connor, who withdrew midtour due to pregnancy.

“I came because of Hole, but then I found out Elastica was playing, which was even better,” said Lisa Burke, 12, of Mountain View, who bopped and swayed in her seat throughout Elastica’s tight 40-minute set.

Yesterday was the final stop on the nationwide summer tour, and the artists seemed as if they’d had enough. David Yow of Jesus Lizard sang one number while lounging in a seat in the audience, six rows up. At the end of the set, he introduced the following act: “Next up is Beck to f — you in the face.”

No one could be sure if he was joking; the tour has been marked by backbiting and online sniping between bands.


Chris Weintrob, 15, of Orinda described the lineup as “not quite as good as last year, but I don’t think it’s as bad as everybody makes it out to be.”

Elastica charged up the crowd with an energetic set of British pop, four songs in the first 10 minutes. By set’s end at 5:30, the crowd made its first surge toward the stage. Two men in splashy skintight jumpsuits were brought out to go-go dance.

Elastica played its hit “Connected” and closed with “Vaseline.” It was followed on the main stage by rappers Cypress Hill and the stripped-down low-fi band Pavement.

Outside the main stage were the usual circus sideshow acts, though the body-piercing tent was not the attraction of years past. There was a second stage out on the asphalt and gravel for bands even too alternative for the main stage. Mike Watt was out there, as was an act called the Dirty Three, with a guy picking at a violin as if it were an electric guitar.

The second stage was convenient to the mist tent, which got heavy traffic all afternoon.

“Awesome — you just got to go in there for about three minutes,” said a man in a tie-dyed tank top who proved that interval was long enough for a good soaking. Some grungers came out of the mist tent and then scuffled their feet to stir up a layer of dust for added protection against the sun.

Another popular attraction was the darkened cinema tent. The film was “something about people having sex and killing each other,” said a teenage girl in a M*A*S*H T-shirt, “but it’s nice and cool in there.”

A third stage, called the Lab, mixed local bands with carnival- style audience-participation events. In midafternoon a drag queen in a leopard-skin gown officiated a Spam-eating contest between a man and a woman chosen from the crowd. A half-can of the pork product was placed at either end of the table, and they went at it face-first with hands behind their backs while the drag queen chanted, “Eat that meat.”

“It was very salty and very greasy, but what the hell, man. It was worth a free (CD) single,” said the winner, Danel Campos, 23, who held the prize aloft on the stage like a Wimbledon trophy.

Several people walked around in Sonic Youth T-shirts, which have a washing machine on the front, but it was clear the buzz was for Courtney Love and Hole.

“Nirvana’s old lady, she’s brave,” said Brown. “Overall, she’s decent, but her old man was hot.” Early in the afternoon at the main stage, the crowd grew the farther it got from the performers. The orange seats down front were nearly empty save for the one Yow sat in as he sang. But the general- admission lawn was filling in with a mellow crowd in concert T-shirts.

“A lot of good people out here, basically,” said Lollapalooza veteran Joshua Brown, who got the day off his job at a Lake County boat dock to bring his boss’ son to the show. “The first thing I do is check out the crowd, and this is probably the best,” he said.

“It’s hot, and everybody deals with everything their own way.”