1991.08.11 - Waterloo Village, Stanhope, NJ

end times and a giant lollipop
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1991.08.11 - Waterloo Village, Stanhope, NJ

Post by Mike »

Review/Rock; Howls of Rage, 9 Hours' Worth, At Waterloo Village

Published: August 13, 1991

STANHOPE, N.J., Aug. 11— Like a megawatt medicine show, the Lollapalooza Festival rolled into Waterloo Village today, greeted by a field of 15,000 fans pumping their fists. Instead of simply playing the arena circuit, Jane's Addiction decided to line up six diverse bands for a package tour: Living Colour, Nine-Inch Nails, Ice-T, the Butthole Surfers, the Rollins Band and Siouxsie and the Banshees, which didn't perform today because of illness. Even without Siouxsie, the festival lasted nearly nine hours.

The tour is carrying a yellow-striped circus tent, where local artists and advocacy groups handed out literature and did a brisk business in buttons and T-shirts. The groups included the National Abortion Rights Action League, Refuse and Resist, Handgun Control Inc. and the Hyacinth Foundation (a New Jersey AIDS service group). Between sets, a display above the stage flashed statistics in the style of the Harper's Index, on topics from textbook censorship to the Persian Gulf war.

The tent suggested political channels for dissatisfaction, though some causes didn't rub off on the performers; the Surfers and Ice-T flaunted guns onstage. But the music itself was an anthology of alienated rage. Behind the various styles, the Lollapalooza Festival was one long howl of fury and defiance, whether it was Ice-T vowing to avenge police brutality, Trent Reznor of Nine-Inch Nails moaning, "I'm gonna smash myself to pieces" or Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction wailing: "Ain't no wrong now; ain't no right. Only pleasure and pain."

The well-groomed, largely suburban audience shouted approval for every imprecation. Near the stage, people slam danced and climbed on one another's shoulders in a joyous melee.

In Jane's Addiction, the fury is connected to primal traumas; Mr. Farrell has (as a pop psychologist might put it) held on to his inner child. That child is a bawling, squalling creature who wants everything right now, from sexual gratification to consumer goods. Mr. Farrell's lyrics also convey a childlike sense of fantasy and a child's pain at, for instance, the loss of a parent. The band's music drifts from heavy-metal stomps to scrabbling funk to finger-picking folk-rock; the songs amble and explode, pursuing Mr. Farrell's piping, rasping countertenor voice.

That volatility, and the sense that Mr. Farrell might do just about anything onstage, makes Jane's Addiction a riveting club band. In moving up to arena scale, it has turned songs into routines, some with dancers, others with videos projected behind the band. For "Ted, Just Admit It," a complaint that "nothing's shocking" in an image-saturated world, two women caressed Mr. Farrell and each other; despite the song's more complex message, they could have been standard heavy-metal bimbos.

Still, Jane's Addiction drew full impact from its basic riffs; Mr. Perkins added a touch of Latin timbales to rock rhythms, while Morgan Fichter on violin brought hints of country and Arabic music to some songs. Mr. Farrell, in red pants and black suspenders, moved like a vaudeville hoofer when he wasn't swaying like a hard-rock shouter. He can be achingly sincere, but he's also a wild-eyed showman.

Living Colour wraps earnest messages about environmental fears, day-to-day racism and the cult of personality in whiz-bang music. Vernon Reid on guitar blasts riffs, picks the blues or erects steel-webbed canopies around melodic choruses. The band has always been virtuosic, but it keeps getting better. At the Lollapalooza Festival, Corey Glover sang with a new banshee falsetto and a soul-shouter's rasp, while the rhythm section seemed to be running on rocket fuel. When the set ended, Mr. Reid dived into the audience.

Nine-Inch Nails uses the machine-driven beat of industrial rock to carry the complaints of a Romantic antihero. In breathy, groaning, long-suffering tones, Mr. Reznor sings about private despair and a desperate need for sexual connection. What sounds petulant on recordings becomes magisterial onstage, because Mr. Reznor bolsters himself and his synthesizers with a live band, including an electric guitarist for brute-force power chords. With an audience shouting and dancing along, the songs testify to widespread adolescent crises.

Ice-T rapped for half of his set, then sang with Body Count, a hard-core rock band. In both guises, he is a provocateur; he has a new rock song called "Cop Killer," and his strongest raps, "Colors" and "New Jack Hustler," use a criminal perspective. While his current album, "O.G.: Original Gangster" (Warner Brothers), suggests that he's reconsidering gangster rap's deep-seated misogyny, onstage his sex raps were as brutal and juvenile as ever.

The Butthole Surfers, a garage band laced with modern noise, bashed away at three-chord songs with wailing psychedelic guitar, while Gibby Haines ran his voice through an echo-repeat device that rendered it virtually unintelligible. The Rollins Band carries on the grinding, clanking hard-rock Henry Rollins sang with Black Flag. Bending at the waist with every downbeat, he howled about self-reliance as the only defense against a world of betrayal like an advice columnist with tattoos.

For him, and the other Lollapalooza Festival performers, Bob Dylan was wrong. In 1991, they know that negativity will pull them through.

Photo: Vernon Reid, left, and Corey Glover of Living Colour at the Lollapalooza Festival at Waterloo Village in Stanhope, N.J. (Larry Busacca/Retna for The New York Times)
http://www.nytimes.com/1991/08/13/news/ ... gewanted=1

August 11, 1991 - Waterloo Village, Stanhope, NJ
http://janesaddiction.org/tour/tour_det ... tourID=209
"The quality of mercy is not strained, it dropeth as the gentle rain from heaven."
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