There’s something reassuring about the Lollapalooza name being dusted off, even if the piercing pagodas and political booths at the Tweeter Center in Tinley Park, Ill., on July 12 didn’t seem as exotic as they did a decade ago. But then, neither did the music: Of Lollapalooza 2003’s seven main-stage acts, not one hailed from east of the Rockies, and all were American. L.A.-palooza was a far cry from the fest’s ambitious beginnings.
Hipster power-poppers Rooney and gloriously gimmicky hard-rock gals the Donnas had the thankless task of rousing early birds, while the sun beckoned concertgoers to an array of activities in the ”Mindfield.” As token hip-hop act Jurassic 5 defiantly worked the big stage with their old-school rhymes, people packed into the GameRiot tent to watch would-be Xbox champs compete at ”Soul Calibur II.” Around the corner, at his ”Axis of Justice” booth, Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello signed autographs, and at the stupid-human-tricks ”Booty Camp” area, an Incubus fan offered to have his ‘fro shaved into a mullet for a VIP pass.
With their churning low-end rumble, Queens of the Stone Age finally brought the rock-minded crowd to its feet; their smart use of false endings and even smarter use of ex – Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan cut through the haze of the lazy afternoon. ”Have a good time, ‘cause this ain’t Ozzfest!” jabbed the group’s redheaded sequoia, Josh Homme. Sensitive nu-metal noodlers and fest faves Incubus (who sadly overlapped with the Distillers’ vocal-shredding second-stage performance) introduced new bassist Ben Kenney as well as new songs (the searing ”Megalomaniac”), while singer and self-aware sex symbol Brandon Boyd waited a full 27 minutes before revealing those washboard abs. Audioslave rarely reached the furious heights of their members’ former bands (and ‘looza vets) Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden, but Chris Cornell seemed more at ease in the midst of the quartet’s mammoth stomp. The loudest cheers followed their faithful cover of the White Stripes’ ”Seven Nation Army.”
Facing a new generation raised in their groundbreaking wake, Jane’s Addiction played mostly a best-of set, in spite of Perry Farrell’s proclaiming that their new CD, Strays, made them so happy they ”walk around fondling each other’s nuts.” Their propulsive ”Stop” and the tribal psychedelia of ”Three Days” echoed the band’s heyday – and Incubus’ Mike Einziger added guitar muscle to ”Mountain Song.” But like the festival itself, Jane’s nostalgia trip was merely good enough when Lollapalooza 2003 called for greatness.