Lollapalooza - 07/28/1993

Lollapalooza 1993

Lineup:

Primus
Alice in Chains
Dinosaur Jr
Fishbone
Arrested Development
Front 242
Babes in Toyland
Tool
Rage Against the Machine

I've highlighted the bands that I was actually at the festival to see. Amazingly, I have no recollection whatsoever of seeing Tool or Dinosaur Jr or Alice in Chains. I vaguely recall Primus only because I'm sure that I never would have seen Primus any other way, but I might actually be remembering a video. The long story made short here is that the lineup for this version of Lollapalooza was underwhelming and most of the stuff that I was interested in was front-loaded into the daylight slots for a change.

It's hard to remember that in the summer of 1993, Rage Against the Machine was a relatively unknown opening act. I got their debut album on the strength of a recommendation that said that they sounded like a harder edged version of Urban Dance Squad! Honestly, in 1993 we were talking about Rage in terms of UDS, a band that probably no one remembers now. While I objected to RATM's snobbish liner notes bragging that they didn't use any keyboards or samplers, I couldn't argue with their live show which was full of energy. I knew they were going to blow up but I didn't realize just how much of a commodity they would eventually become. It's amazing to think that a band with such a hardcore political agenda could become such a trophy for mall rats in middle America. It's one of those rare cases where people fall in love with a band without listening to a word they are saying!

The Lollapalooza formula was pretty transparent the third time around. Front 242 was the token industrial act, Arrested Development was the token rap act, and the headliners were the reigning kings of the burgeoning alternative rock radio scene. I was a little annoyed that we went from Ice-T who had a legitimate place in the alt-rock scene with his hardcore band Body Count, to Ice-Cube who was perhaps less familiar but was still angry enough to appeal to a mostly rock crowd, to Arrested Development who were clearly riding the huge success of "Tennessee" and "Mr. Wendell" to the top of the pop charts despite their weird folk collective start. I was actually excited to see AD because I was a genuine fan of their music, but I didn't think they really belonged on the Lollapalooza bill and it seemed like a play for diversity that just didn't really work. Besides that, Fishbone also brought some diversity to the lineup and I was super amped to see them!

I recall spending most of the day wandering around trying to find people I knew. This was the first year that they had an open-mic tent and my band at the time contemplated taking instruments down there to try and make a name for ourselves, but we decided at the last minute that we weren't ready. Probably the best choice, honestly, even if we had already rented the gas-powered generator!

Front 242 was entirely underwhelming on the giant stage and their live drummer did nothing to make any of the songs better. Arrested Development had a similar problem which I think plagues a lot of rap acts--they replaced the crackle of sampled loops with a band performing and it just sounded kind of lame (if I remember correctly.) Fishbone was pretty good, but honestly I was bored by the time they were done and I remember that the highlight had been the very first band, Rage, and that because of personal drama and other stuff going on, I was ready to leave the festival pretty early. I wouldn't make it to another one of these events--probably because when they started being headlined by the likes of Metallica, I just felt like the whole thing had gone to the dogs.