Cool Music Tour
At least one of this summer’s blockbuster sequels won’t feature an intergalactic slimeball, a pair of buddy cops, or an angst-addled superhero. How do seven cutting-edge bands and a supporting cast with everyone from fire-eaters to tattoo artists sound for box office brawn?
Lollapalooza, the multimedia megatour dreamed up by former Jane’s Addiction front man Perry Farrell, was the surprise hit of last summer’s recession-ravaged concert season. While bankable veterans were all but keeling over in half-full stadiums, Farrell and his largely unknown coterie of too-raw-for-radio bands were playing to the largest audiences of their careers.
This year the nine-hour rock-and-gawk marathon Lollapalooza ‘92 is shaping up as the 800-pound gorilla of the amphitheater circuit. Woe be it to the B-level alternative-rock bands who have to cross these guys on the road in July, August, and September. The tour — featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Ministry, Soundgarden, Ice Cube, and Lush — will probably be the only big-bowl show of the season for the hipper- than-thou collegiate-rock crowd.
The tour, which starts July 18 in Mountain View, Calif., is as much a youth-culture circus and teach-in as it is a rock show. Rather than just playing in front of the student union, these rockers are bringing the student union with them. To wit: a counterculture bookstore; hair-cutting, ethnic food, crafts, and jewelry booths; locally recruited rock bands on a second stage; virtual-reality exhibits; an amino acid smart-drink concession; and a circus sideshow. And — talk about a party with a platform — there’ll be information available on nutrition, AIDS, substance abuse, animal rights, gun control, and a slew of other issues. ”It’s not at all like a regular rock show where you have your crummy band first, your not-so-crummy band second,” says Peter Barsotti, Lollapalooza’s self-proclaimed Director of Oddities and Curiosities. ”The idea here is to sample a band, try a piroshki, check out a book on tattoos, and wander back to try another band. I don’t guarantee they’ll like everything. I do guarantee it will be very different.”
— David Plotnikoff
Cool Album Title: Supersadomasochisticexpialidocious
Julie Andrews is blushing at this very moment. Wait until she hears this deranged ”psychobilly” band from Detroit, whose music is all buckshot guitar fuzz and primordial beats. The album also features a crunching remake of the Ohio Express’ ”Yummy Yummy Yummy” subtitled — with good reason” —Satan Mix.”
— David Browne
Cool Alternative Singer
In her apartment in Allston, Mass., just outside Boston, Juliana Hatfield has her summer mapped out. ”I want to try something that hasn’t been done before,” she says, idly strumming an unplugged electric guitar. ”I want to play guitar and sing in a trio. I want it to be heavy and hard.”
The alternative-rock scene is jam-packed with take-no-guff women brandishing guitars and spitting out tough words. Hatfield, 24, is more reserved but no less striking. Highly regarded in underground circles as a member of the recently disbanded Blake Babies, Hatfield is now staking her own turf with her just-released solo album, Hey Babe. Unlike the front persons of Hole or L7, though, Hatfield doesn’t just bury her voice underneath musical rubble on Hey Babe; her little-girl voice is also capable of dreamy, hooky pop, like a hipper version of the Bangles. ”There are a lot of bands with women in them, but no one’s had the influence of Chrissie Hynde or Exene Cervenka,” she says, adding half-jokingly, ”so I guess I’ll fill that void myself.”
In fact, it was after hearing an album by Cervenka and her band, X, that Hatfield, then a high schooler in Duxbury, Mass., found her calling in life. ”I’d never heard a woman sing like that before. For the first time, I heard what I wanted to do. It was pop, but it was heavy.” She then spent six years singing and playing bass with the Boston-based Blake Babies, who recorded three records of wispy, minimalist pop. On stage with them, swaying to the music as her hair fell in her face, Hatfield personified alternative cool.
Hatfield remains wary of hype: ”Women in rock bands are exploited, like a novelty,” she says. At the same time, involvement with the music business is unavoidable. The North Carolina-based Mammoth Records is negotiating with a major label about a possible distribution deal, meaning Hatfield may be headed for the big leagues whether she likes it or not. However, she takes consolation in the success of Nirvana (whom she salutes on Hey Babe in the song ”Nirvana”). ”They’ve kept their integrity,” she says. ”It shows you don’t have to smile and kiss ass and wear dumb clothes to make it.
”I haven’t done what I want to do yet,” she adds. ”Some of my stuff is whiny and sappy. But that’ll change.” When Hatfield plugs that electric guitar back in, watch out.
— David Browne