earned flak for overlooking female musicians.

This year, aside from Julian & Damian Marley’s
backup singers, the only women making noise
on either stage were Tricky’s vocalist Martine
and his mixed-gender touring band. Which was
pretty lame: PJ Harvey, Sleater-Kinney, or
Me’Shell Ndegéocello would have struck a blow ,
for quality, let alone equality, at a time when
women are ruling the charts for the first time this
decade. Apparently, it was enough to drive the
boys to drag: Trannie booster and James
frontman Tim Booth worked up falsetto-laced
vocal experiments that conjured the ghost of
Jeff Buckley; Tool vocalist Maynard James
Keenan won best costume prize with low-rent
Kabuki makeup, a Blond Ambition ponytail,
Coral Sky Amphitheater
West Palm Beach, Florida
June 25, 1997

"DO YOU WANNA see the first band, or do you wanna see me jump to my death?" a paunchy MC bellowed from a perch atop Lollapalooza's second stage. A no-brainer, to be sure: Given the glut of competing package tours and the
least impressive lineup in the festival’s seven-year history (made weaker still by the 11th-hour, dropouts of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Dr. Octagon), you couldn’t blame the 80 or so early risers in attendance for rallying for a little carnage. Alas, they got lnch.
   There were some choice moments during Lollapalooza’s nine-hour opening marathon in steamy South Florida, which filled slightly more than half of the 20,000—seat Coral Sky Amphitheater: Snoop Doggy Dogg flashing his usual 1,000-watt stoner charm and leading
shout-outs to Tupac amid the block-party sing-alongs; Korn fans ripping out rows of seats to make room for the mosh pit; and Orbital’s post-acid 
trax singing through the bass bins.
tour), ravers were left with the half-assed DJ room
dubbed the “BrainForest”—l’ve been to weddings
with bigger tents and better sound systems.
    Not even a bare-chested Farrell could take the
poorly ventilated sauna for long: Porno For Pyros’ unannounced acoustic set lasted only four songs, after which everyone stumbled out into the 95 degree sunlight to cool off. Somehow, a multimillion-dollar extravaganza couldn’t manage to pull off an attraction that any two-bit rave impresario could have planned in her sleep.
    As a consciousness-raising fair (toxic waste is this year’s cause célébre), Lolla ’97 was even more problematic. You could smell the cheeseburgers from the “Hot off the Grill” booth outside the anti-beef display, and, after reading about the evils of dioxin-producing PVC plastic at the Greenpeace table, you could visit “the Temple” and watch one of the official Lollapalooza dancing girls hang from a crotch harness in what looked suspiciously like a PVC bondage thong. More than one fan made the mistake of offering up dollar bills to Miss Thang in her
sling, suggesting the difference between postfeminist performance art and alterna-porn is in the groin of the beholder.
    On a similar note, Lollapalooza has long
and a bustier packed with two handsome falsies;
and Korn‘s Jonathan Davis pulled a Freddie Mercury, trading in his green sequined Adidas
track suit mid-set for a Braveheart kilt with tube socks. Korn finished their set with “Faget,” a “Woman Is the Nigger of the World" anthem for straight white outcast boys that brings the crisis of identity politics—or is it just the politics of identity crises?—to a new level of incomprehensibility.
   Such is the ball of confusion formerly known as alt-rock. But where Lollapalooza could have embraced the full spectrum of cultural meltdown, it played it safe, and in the end, it was only Orbital’s new metal-friendly sound circus that offered a glimpse of what might’ve been. Whacking power-chord samples and barking vocals against sexy 303 squelches and Belinda ' Carlisle breakbeats, they pumped their yin-yang techno out to the few remaining revelers. It was clearly second-wind time, but this may have been the first “rave” in history to officially end at 11 PM. We were left with a lingering video image of planet Earth, and a few hundred pounds of trash beneath our feet. Maybe next year some free-lance rave promoter can help turn Lollapalooza into the inclusive carnival of Farrell’s dreams.
Or maybe it will just disappear.

But such highlights were so few and far between, it begged the question: What’s the point?
    Originally envisioned as a féte of musical diversity and enlightened headbanging, the Alternative Nation's longest-running coming-out party has, for the most part, become just another major-label caravan mirroring the WACK-
FM playlist. After last summer’s “Metalpalooza” disappointment, founder Perry Farrell came back, on board, hoping to return the festival to its roots with a progressive alliance of thrash and
DJ culture. To his credit, Farrell tried, but he just didn’t try hard enough—or he left the crucial details to others, which may be the reason his electronica-inspired ENIT tour floundered last summer. Orbital aside (Prodigy, Devo, and the Orb will alternate in the closing slot later in the

click for a bigger pic

photos: Joe Giron (?)

from: Spin, September 1997
tricky concertography