LOLLAPALOOZA 2003
Field correspondent Kenny Boyett
St. Helens, OR

Main Stage: The Distillers, The Donnas, Jurassic 5, A Perfect Circle, Queens of the Stone Age (didn’t play this show), Incubus, Audioslave, Jane’s Addiction.

Second Stage: Kings of Leon, Mooney Suzuki, 30 Seconds To Mars, Rooney.

Returning after a six-year hiatus, Perry Farrell’s circus of tattoo artists, breast painters, pierced carnies and loud music rises from the ashes to once again conquer the covenanted summer tour playbill. This year offered a stable of hard rock up-and-comers as well as a few fresh faces and the occasional sneak surprise. For seven years Lollapalooza offered an alternative summer package reminiscent of the heady summer festivals in the ‘60s and mid-‘70s. Bringing in a thick mixture of musical genres from Living Color and Nine Inch Nails to Arrested Development and George Clinton, the tour became a summer favorite and a financial windfall for Farrell.

This year Farrell’s organization may have been somewhat self-serving with a reunited Jane’s Addiction (Farrell’s band) and the mammoth return of Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden) and Rage Against The Machine in Audioslave. Adding to the mix the surprise addition of a revamped A Perfect Circle and the hyperactive Incubus led to a must see event. Nearly 30 cities played host to the avant-garde festival bringing in a total attendance of somewhere close to 250,000 fans. One such lucky attendee was our own Kenny Boyett who delivered this eyewitness account of the mayhem in the final hours of the last show.

How many times have you seen an opening band upstage the headliner? Not too many, for me, but it has happened and as I watched Audioslave (Chris Cornell of Soundgarden fronting Rage Against the Machine) work the Lollapalooza crowd into a frenzy, I actually thought for a second that they just might upstage Jane's Addiction. I've only recently gotten into Audioslave, so their music is new to me but Chris Cornell is still at the top of his game and they were really kicking out an infectious metal groove. The crowd was going insane and since I'd also never seen Rage before I was quickly being converted, and getting that cool enlightened feeling of ‘So this is what all the fuss is about’.

The Cutting Edge press/photo pass got me into see a lot of the show in front of the front row, where the bouncers are. And since this is a general admission show, it was even crazy in that small haven, moshers constantly being thrown at us. It's just been so long since I'd seen Jane's and I had almost forgotten what makes them the best hard rock band around. Jane's come to shock, dazzle, arouse, and overwhelm you with an intoxicating cocktail of strippers, lights and freaks. And while Perry may grind, dance and prance in his black leather pants, you never lose sight of one thing: they're the tightest band you've ever seen and they are here to kick your ass!



That's what the band did in the L.A. punk clubs in '85 and soon had every major label offering them millions of dollars and the almost unheard of 'Full Artistic Control". Now it's nearly 20 years later, and their music still sounds fresh, vital and still, somehow, ahead of its time. As the curtains drop to the foreboding bass line of “Up The Beach”, Dave Navarro stands shirtless right above me, the ultimate Guitar God, poised to launch his power chord assault. Perry, who hasn't graced the stage yet, waits out the opener for Dave to hit the opening riff of “Stop” to come running out, full speed, screaming "Here We Go!" Indeed!

Perry is poured into a black leather outfit that only he could pull off. Pull it off he nearly does, teasing the writhing crowd, and for the first set he never stops flailing and bouncing off the stainless girder stage, while Navarro and the boys rip through all the gems including “Mountain Song”, “Been Caught Stealin”, “Ocean Size”, and “Whores”. Then they launch into 3 new ones and they sound just as great as the classics and the crowd freaks just as hard. After a while, he stops the show to thank everybody that helped put the show on, this is after all the last night of the tour. Then Dave thanks Perry for starting Lollapalooza and the crowd is screaming so loud that even Perry can't get a word in. He just smiles and looks in awe at all the mayhem and joy that he has created. They leave briefly and come back out to the bass of “Three Days”. The epic song builds and climbs to Dave taking his most inspired solo of the night. With a steel drum rolled out, “Jane Says” is the perfect good times clincher. I had never seen them do a cover before, but they're having so much fun, and it's the last night of the tour so why not? They close with Zeppelin's “Kashmir” and for once, everything is just right in this crazy mixed up world.

I know this has gone on too long but you know I'm a man obsessed. We walk away from the show, in a daze and take one last look at the press tent. Lots of people hanging about, there's a Mexican feast spread out and free margaritas for the crew, the press and the bands and rumor is Perry might show up. After an hour we had just about given up and I walked over to where a DJ was just starting to mix some tunes. I walk up to the table, I'm still the only one at that end of the party, and the DJ is none other than Perry Ferrell! I'm usually not one to dance to club music but what else do I do. Perry's five feet away, spinning tunes and looking right at me. So I do my white guy dance and Perry keeps spinning tunes for me. He keeps looking at me, smiling, just glad someone’s dancing. He grabs a mic and starts singing along to the dance beat. I wanted to stop him because I knew this would be the end of my one on one Perry show. Sure enough, once the crew and bands heard his singing, they all came over and started dancing. I'm dancing with the girl group, the Donnas, when he comes out and they all hug him and thank him for having them on the tour. I just got in line, pretended I was a Donna and hugged him too. I said "Thank you so much Perry, for all the awesome shows." He said “Awww, no man. Thank you!”