Given the success of last year’s Lollapalooza traveling rock festival – which played to nearly a half-million alternative-rock fans in North America and was one of the most successful tours of 1991 – it’s no surprise that Lollapalooza ’92 will be hitting the road this summer.
After months of speculation, the festival’s lineup has finally been announced. This year’s mix of edgy popular and semi-popularacts features the Red Hot Chili Peppers as headliners, joined by Ministry, Ice Cube, Soundgarden, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Pearl Jam.
“I think they’re a pretty adequate representation of what the youth culture is listening to,” said Perry Farrell, Lollapalooza co-organizer and former leader of the now-defunct group Jane’s Addiction. Farrell’s manager, Ted Gardner, and booking agent Don Muller are also organizing the event, with some assistance from Bill Graham Productions. “Let’s face it – there are only seven slots,” said Farrell. “For now I’m staying with rock music. To me that includes rap, industrial, what some would call noise bands, what some would call the Seattle sound. The rock-funk thing. I’m just looking to do an overview of rock & roll.”
The approximately thirty-city tour will begin at the Shoreline Amphitheater, in the San Francisco Bay Area, on Saturday, July 18th, and run for six weeks, ending in Los Angeles on August 30th. Other cities already on the itinerary include San Francisco,Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Washington, Orlando, Boston, Detroit, Toronto, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, San Diego, Dallas and Phoenix. Dates in Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Houston and Cincinnati are being considered. Ticket prices will be about the same as last year’s, in the $27.50 to $30 range.
Although the main attraction, naturally, will be the music, Farrell wants Lollapalooza to be much more than simply an all-day rock concert. His grand vision is for a multimedia sociopolitical event that will include as many aspects of contemporary youth culture as possible. Equally important to Farrell is that everyone have fun. With those goals in mind, there will be an art tent, an exhibit of local hot rods, virtual-reality and cyberpunk demonstrations, a tattoo artist and a body piercer. Activist organizations ranging from Rock the Vote and Hand Gun Control to the Cannabis Action Network will also be in attendance.
New this year will be a second stage where local bands, as well as other kinds of entertainment – Farrell is considering high-school cheerleaders and local theater groups – will perform. There will also be a gambling tent where money will be raised for charity. “I’m asking the record companies to donate music,” said Farrell. “If you win chips worth twenty dollars, you’ll be able to cash it in for twenty dollars of music. No one will win any cash. The cash will go to places like local homeless shelters.”
Farrell developed the idea of the festival as a result of his personal disillusionment with the contemporary rock concert. “Basically, I’m bored,” he said. “I just want to see things that are slightly bizarre when I go to shows. I feel that usually when you go to a show, you know what to expect. There’s nothing that throws you. It just sets you up for the doldrums. I just think there are so many different chemistries for putting shows together. I hate to be cliched, but the way Barnum and Bailey perceived putting on a show . . . they had a different angle. I want to do that, kind of a rock & roll circus. But in the future, I want to expand it out past just rock & roll bills.”
Farrell would eventually like to take Lollapalooza around the world and has hopes that some day the event itself, rather than the bands, will draw people. He plans to include a more eccentric variety of music, ranging from Mexican punk bands and to Australian didgeridoo groups.
“See, right now it’s very hard because there are everybody wants to see people who they know and love,” Farrell said. “When I’m dealing on a scale this large, I’ve got to slightly cater to the whims of my culture. I can’t be completely selfish about my opinions and my taste.”
This story is from the April 30th, 1992 issue of Rolling Stone.