Singer Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction organized the first Lollapalooza Tour in 1991, thinking that it could be the start of a traveling music show where punk grunge concert goers could raucously enjoy rowdy performances of indie bands.
One the Main Stage were: Jane’s Addiction, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nine Inch Nails, Living Colour, Ice-T & Body Count, Butthole Surfers, Rollins Band, Violent Femmes, Fishbone, Emergency Broadcast Network, Rage Against The Machine.
the start of something cool
The word “Lollapallooza”— dates from a late 19th/early 20th century American phrase meaning “an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event; an exceptional example or instance.”
FARRELL: I did hear the Three Stooges say it, but I didn’t have that in mind initially. I was flipping through the dictionary, and the definition of lollapalooza was something or someone great and/or wonderful. And definition two: a giant swirling lollipop.
It was at Lollapalooza where Farrell coined the term “Alternative Nation”. The explosion of alternative rock in the early 1990s propelled Lollapalooza forward; the 1992 and 1993 festivals leaned heavily on grunge and alternative acts, and usually featured an additional rap artist. Punk rock standbys like mosh pits and crowd surfing became part of the canon of the concerts. These years saw great increases in the participatory nature of the event with the inclusion of booths for open-microphone readings and oratory, television-smashing pits, and tattooing and piercing parlors
Ice-T plays it off with Perry Ferrel to make a statement about race in their own musical punk rap art style. Not too many mainstreamers get the joke.
Another key concept behind Lollapalooza was the inclusion of non-musical features. Performers like the Jim Rose Circus Side Show, an alternative freak show, and the Shaolin monks stretched the boundaries of traditional rock culture. There was a tent for display of art pieces, virtual reality games, and information tables for political and environmental non-profit groups promoting counter-culture and political awareness.
“During Lollapalooza ’91 Jane’s Addiction members Dave Navarro and Eric Avery played guitars alongside Gibby Haynes and Ice-T for the last song of the Nine Inch Nails’s set, “Head Like a Hole”
Trent Reznor plays it straight during an interview clip in this video.
From the Lollapalooza website:
Lollapalaooza has come a long way, but one thing stays constant: the festival is for the fans. With that in mind, Lollapalooza now calls the legendary city of Chicago home, having put down roots in the gorgeous greenspaces of Grant Park in 2005.
As the festival has grown up, it’s also grown out — now spanning over 115 acres, multiple stages, and a ever-more diverse array of 130+ artists from hip-hop, electronica, reggae, indie, rock, modern roots, and many more. There’s always been a passion for rocking responsibly, and Lolla these days is no different.
Fans can find a place to park their bicycle, hit the farmers market, grab some gourmet grub, peruse handmade arts and crafts, get rewarded for recycling and – of course – rock out to some of the best music in the world. And it’s only gonna get better from here. These last twenty years have been a hell of a ride, so here’s to twenty more.