I skipped the first Lollapalooza because I heard that Nine Inch Nails had dropped off the tour by the time it got to Florida and because the only other bands I would have wanted to see would have been Fishbone and Ice-T. The second Lollapalooza was probably the best lineup anyway. It's actually hard to imagine that this lineup was all on one stage on one day for a $27 ticket:
Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Jesus and Mary Chain
Now, Lush and The Jesus and Mary Chain never made as big of a splash as the rest of these bands out in the world of commercial music, but it's almost insane to think that I saw every major alternative rock band of the 90s (except Nirvana) at the same show, all of this as these bands were just on the precipice of becoming huge mega-draws on their own.
Of course I was most looking forward to seeing Lush and Ministry, but I knew that Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were getting big and that it would at least be interesting to be able to say one day "I saw them when..."
Putting Lush and The Jesus and Mary Chain on during the early afternoon at an outdoor show was understandable given their stature, but those bands just did't work in that sort of venue. The Jesus and Mary Chain seemed especially out of place with their strobe lights flashing against the hot Florida sun. I hopped back and forth for a lot of the day between the main stage and the second stage where I was excited to see Basehead (underwhelming), The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow (fun), and Skrew (I don't know if they even played.) The second stage was a great idea and in later years I would find myself much more interested in the acts on it than on the main bill. Somewhere on this tour, Rage Against the Machine, Stone Temple Pilots, and Porno for Pyros also played the second stage, but the only one I might have seen this day was Perry Ferrel's band.
Ice Cube felt like a token after the more sensible inclusion of Ice-T and his hardcore act Body Count on Lollapalooza 1. I understood the idea of mixing up the styles a little bit and exposing that massively white, rock audience to something different, but Ice Cube just didn't make the most sense. Still, I thought he was great.
Ministry was the main attraction as far as I was concerned, and my friend had even scored backstage passes from the Lush's bass player which we used to get backstage to see if we could get a glimpse of the Ministry folk. We went backstage sometime late in the day and saw Al and Paul eating dinner and it just seemed a little surreal and kind of ridiculous that we were there in the first place so we never approached anyone. This would be the first in a long, long line of near miss encounters with celebrities or people I admired where I would be in the right place at the right time, but where I wouldn't have the nerve to just say "hi, I appreciate your work." Oh well.
Ministry was great and they waited until it was almost dark to go on so that the menacing atmosphere could at least be approximated. At Lollapalooza, even a band like Arrested Development got a mosh pit going, but the pit(s) at Ministry were truly insane. I had to be in the mix, but I wanted to go home with all of my teeth. Luckily I don't think I ever hit the ground, but I do remember getting blasted a few times, and laying into a few people myself when they got too close.
I blame Lollapalooza for the unnecessary proliferation of the mosh pit. I know that there were a lot of kids from my school for whom a show like this was their first introduction to what was then a bona fide alternative subculture. There wasn't a lot of moshing at Eagles reunion shows that these folks were going to, but a lot of them seemed to really take to the unbridled aggression of the pit and I soon saw pits at shows that really, really didn't need them. They Might Be Giants had a pit for shits sake!
I couldn't have really asked for a better Ministry show though, and so when the Chili Peppers went on, it was all downhill. We decided to beat the traffic back to Tampa by leaving about four songs into the RHCP set. I don't regret it.