Alice Cooper: 12/31/1998

What better way to rock in the New Year than with Alice Cooper, right? But wait – it gets even better. So the ticket says Row 2, which I have to say, I was pretty psyched about. But when my friend Jim and I arrived at the show, lo and behold, Row 2 was actually front row! So even though we were off on the side, we were still deep in the madness and mayhem, and we were graced by Alice’s presence when he slunk over to our side of the stage.

The theme of this show was kind of a psycho-circus motif. There were demented clowns providing Alice with his various implements of destruction, and just grinning menacingly like something out of a Stephen King novel.

There were some nice surprises in this show, notably “Public Animal #9,” a classic from the School’s Out album, and “Unfinished Sweet,” where the clowns shoved Alice into an Egyptian sarcophagus and skewered him with swords. Also, Alice made a nod to Elvis, one of his influences, by playing “Jailhouse Rock” for an encore, decked out in a sequined jacket and some fly shades.

There were so many high points at this show, it was basically just one long high point. From the first chords of “Hello Hooray” until the last note of “Under My Wheels,” it was all Killer and no filler.

Here’s the full setlist. Rock on!

Setlistlowns

  • Hello Hooray
  • Sideshow
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Public Animal #9
  • Be My Lover
  • Lost in America
  • I’m Eighteen
  • From the Inside
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Steven
  • Halo of Flies
  • Nothing’s Free
  • Cleansed by Fire
  • Poison
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Unfinished Sweet
  • School’s Out

Encore:

  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Under My Wheels
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Lollapalooza: 8/22/1992

As you can see, this is not a ticket stub per se, but is an access pass which was provided to people working at the event (it now adorns one of my guitar cases). At the time, I was involved in a political action group and we were permitted to have a table at the festival, so we all got passes and had to commit to working the table for at least one shift, which was fine with me. We could still see the main stage from the plaza fair and could hear the music no problem.

The festival was being held at Miami’s Bicentennial Park, which was right in the heart of downtown Miami. It was a great space for the festival, and it was a beautiful day, which made it even better. This particular Lollapalooza Festival was heavy on the grunge scene, featuring bands that would later go on to become really popular:

  • Pearl Jam
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Ice Cube
  • Ministry
  • Stone Temple Pilots
  • Soundgarden
  • The Jesus and Mary Chain
  • Lush
  • Jim Rose Circus Sideshow

There was so much intense music, it was almost overwhelming. My girlfriend (later wife) and I synched up our shifts at the table, and then went up closer to see Ministry, the Chili Peppers, and Pearl Jam. They were all excellent! But the one thing I could not convince her to go see with me was the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, which was off on a side stage. But our friend Gail was there and she had a photo press pass, so she and I went right up to the front of the stage where the freaks were performing.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Jim Rose Circus, I will tell you now they are not for the faint of heart. If you decide to seek out some videos online, you have been warned. Acts included Mr. Lifto, who attaches cinder blocks and other heavy items to chains connected to his genital and nipple piercings and lifts them, grotesquely stretching his body parts. There were people eating glass, getting darts thrown into their backs, eating live maggots, and on and on. But by far the most disturbing was Matt the Tube, who ran a tube into his stomach, pumped in a god-awful concoction, sucked it back out, and then drank the stomach bile along with some of the other freaks and one fool from the audience who decided to go up on stage and partake in the drinking. As this was happening, people were literally fainting around me as Gail eagerly snapped pictures. When reporters inquired what possessed the guy from the audience to go up and drink the stomach bile, he replied that he knew he would never have an opportunity to try something like that again, so he had to go for it. Some people will drink anything.

Anyway, we stayed for the entire festival, then spent some time breaking down the table, and finally my girlfriend and I got to the car to leave. As I turned on the radio, I got a most unwelcome surprise. Hurricane warnings had been issued for Hurricane Andrew, which was targeting South Florida (the storm would hit on 8/24/1992). We were both living on the beach, so we were in the mandatory evacuation zone. We went to a gas station to fill the car, and even at 1:00 am, the line was blocks long and we waited for over an hour. Then we went to a 24-hour supermarket to try to get some supplies, but it was slim pickings. The shelves were already ransacked. The next 36 hours were spent without sleep as we loaded important stuff into our cars, sealed up our apartments, and fled inland. Thankfully, we survived the storm with no catastrophic impacts, but I cannot say the same for friends of ours. Needless to say, I had PTSD afterwards and no longer live on the coast.

LOL – have to say that the storm pretty much overshadowed the festival in my memory.