By Mark Guarino
“Like a beautiful woman, she definitely took her time,” said Perry Farrell the morning of Lollapalooza. The traveling alt-rock freak fest was resurrected as a tamer two-day blowout in late July in Chicago’s Grant Park. Over 50 bands played six stages with Weezer, the Pixies and Widespread Panic headlining.
But the real star was the heat. Temperatures crept past 100 degrees, resulting in melting fans and bleeding rock star mascara. “I wish it wasn’t so hot,” said Brandon Flowers of the Killers, crashed on a couch after checking out the Arcade Fire. “I like playing indoors personally.”
Lollapalooza’s legacy left some artists in awe, others “sort of befuddled,” said Chris Carrabba who reported most of his fans were at the Warped Tour, in town the same day. “So for nobody else that’s a problem, but maybe for us, it’s like ‘hey man, where is everybody?’”
Ben Kweller went to Lollapalooza as a fan (“I took one of my first hits of acid”) and later rocked it with his high school band Radish. When Lollapalooza disappeared during his solo years, he was forced to play the circuit overseas including Japan’s Fuji Rock. “That whole country has organization down,” he said. “It’s nice to see American festivals are getting their act together.”
Dinosaur Jr. reunited for a set motivated by “greed,” said bassist Lou Barlow afterwards. Sipping beers backstage the trio waxed nostalgic for Lollapalooza’s former, more aggressive past. “For whatever reason (the organizers) are choosing to focus on the Death Cab for Cuties and the Killers of the world which is not where it’s happening with the real pulse of hatred and alienation of day’s youth and the youth of all time,” Barlow said.
Fans of the film “Dig!” expecting fisticuffs by rivals the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols were set up for a letdown when the Dandys welcomed Jonestown loose cannon Anton Newcombe onstage for some droning psychedelics. “It’s a made-up story,” said Dandy Peter Holmstrom. “There’s no ending.”
Manic moments were elsewhere. Excessive pogoing left Kaiser Chiefs lead singer Ricky Wilson hoarse and upchucking on the grass. Billy Idol flung Frisbees into the crowd while proving real boys of summer wear leather. Liz Phair debuted new songs while taking in the Chicago skyline. “I woke up this morning and looked out at that city I grew up in and it was like ‘good for you’,” she said earlier.
Party host Farrell was busy, first singing Porno For Pyros songs on the kids stage (yes, really), then checking out the Brian Jonestown Massacre backstage and later unveiling his dance strutting new band Satellite Party. “We fell on our ass,” he said looking back at Lollapalooza’s latter days. “So we went back to the original concept. And man, look at the difference.”