Scrape the mud off those Doc Martens. Nirvana, the Beastie Boys, and Smashing Pumpkins are expected to headline Lollapalooza '94, the fourth annual summer smorgasbord of alternative rock, and sources say they may be joined by the Breeders, A Tribe Called Quest, and -- in the believe-it-or-not slot -- resurrected country sage Johnny Cash. No contracts have been signed yet, but organizers seem to be putting together a bill to snuff criticism that the traveling festival has lost steam at the box office. Grossing $17.6 million, Lollapalooza '93 was seen as a minor flop; without the star power of a headliner, it fell short of 1992's Pearl Jam-Red Hot Chili Peppers bonanza of more than $19 million.
The rumored '94 roster -- buoyed by the platinum Pumpkins and Nirvana's rep as the founding fathers of the alternative revolution -- could signal a return to form. ''It's a very strong lineup that they're talking about,'' says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar. ''Nirvana gives them a piece of steak to put in the lineup -- a little sizzle.'' Not to mention a dose of prickly punk credibility. ''They got a lot of s -- - for having metal bands last year that weren't considered alternative enough,'' says one plugged-in Seattleite. ''I'd rather have Nirvana than Alice in Chains.'' As for the Cash gambit, ''That's exactly what Lollapalooza needs,'' says punk eminence Henry Rollins, who was the first performer to take the stage at the original Lollapalooza in 1991. ''Cash would tear 'em up. He'd probably get more attention than anyone on the whole tour.'' Says Bongiovanni: ''If you're aware of what Tony Bennett has done in front of alternative crowds, I guess anything is possible.''