Lollapalooza '92: On The Road With the Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden

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Ministry changes its show nightly; yesterday the band drew primarily from Psalm 69, 1988's Land of Rape and Honey and 1989's Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste, also tossing in the version of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut" that surfaced last year as a 1000 Homo DJs twelve-inch. The crowd ate it all up with relish; many in the audience appeared fairly well acquainted with even the newer Psalm 69 fare. On older songs like "Thieves," from The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste, they had the timing down on every whip crack and drill-bit whine.

Coming after Ministry and Ice Cube, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have their work cut out for them; especially since they're still working out the bugs with newcomer Arik Marshall, who stepped in after former guitarist John Frusciante abruptly quit the band in May.

"It's a cosmically confusing, fucked-up situation to lose a family member like that," says Peppers vocalist Anthony Kiedis, "and we didn't want it to happen. Emotionally, it's very sad and disheartening. But that's what happened, and we had to carry on. That's what he wanted, and that's what we had to deal with."

Marshall, from the sound of things, won't have any trouble picking up the ball dropped by Frusciante. With only two Belgium shows with the band under his belt as a warm-up before the tour, he's slipped right into the Peppers' groove. The band's set, which kicks off with "Give It Away" and zigzags through Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Mother's Milk and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, is a powerhouse affair shot through with the usual wacky touches, from the stage wear (Kiedis's pants last night bore the slogan Save our Ass, and Flea wasn't wearing any pants) to Flea's falsetto, singsong a cappella turns. Much of the show probably leaves the audience battling vertigo, thanks to a revolving black-and-white pinwheel set up behind drummer Chad Smith that looks like it could hypnotize Texas in seconds. There's only one way to top something like that – namely, to come out for your encore sporting a hard hat that shoots flames from the top of your head while you play "Crosstown Traffic." Yes, they did.

It would've been tempting for the Peppers to bow out of Lollapalooza following Frusciante's departure – or at the very least allow the incident to put a pall on the proceedings. But it's clear that they'd rather concentrate on the positive aspects and just get on with it.

"There's great things about a tour like this," says Kiedis. "One of them is, we don't have to sound check, so we can get lots of rest. Another is that we get to make new friends, develop new musical relationships."

Whether he realizes it or not, Kiedis has just touched on the only real reason that any of the acts on the bill wanted to play Lollapalooza in the first place.

"I was standing between Ice-T And Ice Cube, and Perry Farrell was playing basketball right behind me," says Eddie Vedder. "When the fuck did I ever think that would happen?"

Two days into the tour and tenuous bonds are already forming. Last night, at the hotel where the bands are staying, Ministry and Boo-Yaa Tribe wrested the equipment away from the salsa band playing in the lounge and proceeded to systematically destroy the amps. Tonight, during the Chili Peppers' set, Boo-Yaa Tribe, Ice Cube and Ice-T came up for a jam. Ask the band members about it, and one right after another, they'll tell you that that is why they're really here.

"There's a real camaraderie amongst the bands and crew, the people who are putting on the show," says Kim Thayil.

Vedder concurs. "There may be media shit flying around, some band may hate some other band," he says. "But when it all comes down to it, and we all hang out together, we know we're all going through the same shit."

"The key to this tour working is groups coexisting," says old-timer Ice-T. "If you take one group on this tour and they're assholes, they won't make it. There can't be any outsiders. What I got out of it, more than just performing, was learning about the groups. I ended up being friends with Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Butthole Surfers; me and Henry Rollins are now like best friends. Now, Cube knows the guys in Ministry, he was hanging out with the guys from Pearl Jam. That's what this shit's about.

"Maybe that's why I came," he adds. "Being an alumni member of this thing, I wanted to see if it was gonna work, so I'd know there was a chance for it to happen next year. All these people are gonna be connected to this tour that way."

Is it just about music then? Jamming? Has Lollapalooza's change-the-world political vibe been lost in a blur of musical bonding and clever marketing? Was Perry Farrell talking to a brick wall yesterday when, at the close of his Porno for Pyros set, he told the crowd, "We will inherit this earth – it's ours . . . It's ours . . ."?

Farrell isn't denying that Lollapalooza has to some extent gone the way of Doc Martens and flannel shirts – mainstream. But he's not quite ready to see it as a plain old rock show.

"What Lollapalooza II has proved," Farrell says as the last of the fans are leaving Shoreline, "is that there is a serious market for a youth counterculture. That's the bad news. The good news is that these people will sooner or later be in positions of prominence, and we have taken them to school."

This story is from the September 17th, 1992 issue of Rolling Stone.6

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