JEORDIE WHITE | BASE TENDENCIES
With its crazy mix of high-minded idealism and beer-swilling hedonism, the revamped Lollapalooza rocked the White River Amphitheatre Saturday. It was the last and biggest rock festival of the summer, drawing more than 15,000 spectators.
Led by Jane's Addiction, featuring Lollapalooza creator Perry Farrell on lead vocals, the 11-hour music marathon featured a dream lineup of main-stage bands, including Rooney, the Donnas, Jurassic 5, A Perfect Circle, Incubus and Audioslave, the high-powered rock machine led by former Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell and Rage Against the Machine alumnus Tom Morello.
It was Cornell's third appearance on Lollapalooza's main stage. In the early 1990s, he played the festival twice as lead singer for Soundgarden. Cornell described the vibe at this year's Lollapalooza as "tribal" and compared the tightly packed crowd in front of the stage to a throng in a Tokyo shopping mall.
Cornell led the crowd in a boisterous "Thank you, Perry" chant to thank Farrell for bringing back the tour that revolutionized rock festivals in the 1990s and bred such copycats as the Vans Warped Tour, Ozzfest, Lilith Fair and H.O.R.D.E., as well as a slew of radio-sponsored rock fests.
This year's touring festival hit the road after a six-year hiatus. The first Lollapalooza, in 1991, played on a cold, rainy August day at the King County Fairgrounds in Enumclaw, not far from the new White River Amphitheatre.
A true alternative to what mainstream rock had to offer at the time, Lollapalooza showcased a diverse musical lineup, an uneasy mix of social and political activism and quirky, even freakish entertainment, notably the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow. Twelve years later, the 2003 Lollapalooza was back in the Enumclaw area, playing a sprawling, state-of-the-art amphitheater well suited to a festival that has become more slick and commercial, offering a quirky mix of sideshow entertainment and clever marketing.
A giant, 5,500 square-foot Xbox "Game Riot" pavilion allowed concertgoers to sample dozens of new titles and participate in game-show style presentations. Outside the Xbox pavilion were booths representing the U.S. Marines, P.E.T.A., the Sierra Club and Axis of Justice.
A display of new Jeep vehicles and SUVs was located opposite the second stage, where Farrell took a few moments in the afternoon to talk about renewable energy, including biodiesel, biomass, solar and hydrogen fuel-cell technology.
"If there was ever a blackout across the country, Lollapalooza would still be rocking," Farrell said. The rock star played magician's assistant to engineer and Humboldt State University educator Nate Coleman, who demonstrated hydrogen fuel-cell technology by whipping up a batch of fruit smoothies in a fuel cell-powered blender.
Patrick Mazza, co-author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Climate Change," also spoke to the crowd about global warming and a coming personal energy revolution.
But many concertgoers put their personal energy to use by taking in the sights, sounds and suds of Lollapalooza. Long beer lines snaked through the crowds as dozens of vendors dispensed brew for the thirsty masses. Crowds also gathered around a mobile tattoo shop, various clothing and accessories vendors, and a popular body painting booth.
The second stage offered nearly seven hours of live music by such new acts as 30 Seconds to Mars, Kings of Leon, Golden Buddha and The Mooney Suzuki. The main stage -- flanked by two video screens -- opened shortly after 2 p.m. with L.A. rock band Rooney, followed by The Donnas, an all-woman Bay Area foursome. The latter, led by energetic lead singer Brett Anderson, played songs from its sassy new album "Spend the Night." Holding up the rear was drummer Torry Castellano, a blur of swinging hair and drumsticks as she flailed away at her pink drum kit. Songs included the bratty "Take It Off" and "I Don't Care (So There)."
Jurassic 5, the only hip-hop group on the main stage, offered a colorful, hyperkinetic set. The L.A. group featuring MCs and DJs rocked the party with songs from its new album, "Power in Numbers," and entertained with a song performed on kazoos.
In sharp contrast, A Perfect Circle followed with a hard-rocking set featuring songs from the powerful new album, "Thirteenth Step." Songs included "The Hollow," "The Package" and "Thomas." For the opener, "Pet," lead singer Maynard James Keenan -- also a member of Tool -- performed behind a curtain, shadow dancing for the roaring crowd. The group, featuring new member James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins, was also joined for a song by Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro.
Lead singer Brandon Boyd of Incubus also brought roars during a set that featured songs from the rock group's current album, "Morning View," including "Nice to Know You" and "Wish You Were Here." Guitarist Michael Einziger was a standout on the song "Are You In?"
Audioslave's set opened with a recording of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" before exploding with a live version of "Gasoline" from the group's debut album. Cornell was thoroughly engaging on such songs as the high-powered ballad "Like A Stone" and the howling "Techno Ted." He strapped on an acoustic guitar for a stirring version of Elvis Costello's "What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding" and was joined by A Perfect Circle's Keenan for a duet.
Drummer Brad Wilk, who played with his bare, muscular back facing the audience, displayed the message "I Love Maynard" on his back when the band returned after Cornell's solo version of "I Am the Highway."
Audioslave's set concluded with such songs as the thunderous "7 Nation Army" and "Cochise," a Native American anthem.
Farrell, wearing an electric blue outfit, beamed as Jane's Addiction took the stage about 10 p.m. His co-conspirator in the band, guitarist Navarro, was wrapped in a black boa, cigarette dangling from his lips. Guitarist Jeordie White of A Perfect Circle also joined for a song.
The set featured songs from the band's early albums, but included the hit "Just because" from the current album, "Strays," the success of which gave Lollapalooza ticket sales a needed boost. Farrell introduced the album's title song with a tongue-in-cheek story about "strays" that the group has encountered at truck stops along the tour.
Accompanying the band were the Lollapalooza go-go dancers.
The group closed the festival with its signature song, "Jane Says."