Lollapalooza Festival: 8/20/1991

Yes, I attended the first Lollapalooza Festival, which was really, really cool. I was living in Miami at the time and the show was in Orlando. I went with these two girls I knew, but it was strictly a platonic thing. I had a car, and they needed a ride, so it all worked out.

We left in the morning and made the trek to Orlando, which was not too bad. We got there plenty early enough and made our way into the fairgrounds well before the music started. The lineup was pretty solid, and I was really looking forward to seeing all the bands on the bill, especially since the only band I had previously seen was Living Colour. Anyway, here is a list of the bands that performed that day:

  • Jane’s Addiction
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • Living Colour
  • Nine Inch Nails
  • Ice T & Body Count
  • Butthole Surfers
  • Rollins Band

If memory serves me correct, Rollins Band played first. I had seen Henry Rollins years ago with Black Flag, which was a wild show. His solo band was cool, and he definitely got the energy going.

Next up were the Butthole Surfers. I remember wondering if they were mentally challenged. The singer would toss bottles in the air and allow them to smash on his head. Anyway, they were entertaining. I can appreciate a good freak show.

I’m pretty sure Ice-T and Body Count were next. Their set I remember vividly. They were so raw, so powerful, and they felt—dangerous. I recall thinking that rock music had become pretty tame, but seeing Body Count filled me with the combined sense of danger and excitement that I had not felt at a concert in a long time. And when they performed the infamous “Cop Killer,” with Ice-T beginning with his rap about taking a cop “into the parking lot and shooting him in his mother-f***in’ face,” it was hard not to notice the rage exuding from the phalanx of Orlando police officers lined up and glaring at the stage. It is an image that was burned into my brain.

Nine Inch Nails played afterwards, and the girls I was with were pretty psyched for them. I had not really listened to NIN prior to this, so I didn’t know what to expect. They were intense; only way to describe them. Not my fav, but I appreciated the energy they had on stage, and their sound was definitely unique.

Next up was Living Colour. Damn, I love that band! As a guitarist, I’m always in awe of Vernon Reid’s playing. They totally rocked, in my humble opinion.

Then came Siouxsie and the Banshees. Siouxsie was so cool. I wished I was closer because I really enjoyed their set. But even from a distance, it was great seeing them.

Finally, Jane’s Addiction took the stage. They were great, and even after a long day of music out in the Florida sun, the pit was still swarming and people were going wild. I thought they played well, and my only disappointment was that they didn’t play “Jane Says.” Otherwise, killer set.

We drove back to Miami that night, so it was early in the morning by the time I dropped my friends off and made it home. Coffee is a wonderful thing.

I was not able to find all the setlists from the day’s performances, but I found a few. Here are the ones I found.

Nine Inch Nails Setlist:

  • Now I’m Nothing
  • Terrible Lie
  • Sin
  • Physical
  • The Only Time
  • Wish
  • Get Down Make Love
  • Down In It
  • Head Like A Hole

Living Colour Setlist:

  • Type
  • Desperate People
  • Funny Vibe
  • Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing
  • Love Rears Its Ugly Head
  • Under Cover of Darkness
  • Time’s Up
  • Sweet Chariot
  • Open Letter (To a Landlord)
  • Memories Can’t Wait
  • Elvis Is Dead
  • Should I Stay or Should I Go
  • Cult of Personality

Siouxsie and the Banshees Setlist:

  • The Last Beat of My Heart
  • Silver Waterfalls
  • The Killing Jar
  • Paradise Place
  • Cry
  • Kiss Them for Me
  • Peek-A-Boo
  • Cities in Dust
  • Switch
  • Fear (of the Unknown)
  • This Wheel’s on Fire
  • Rhapsody
  • Helter Skelter

Jane’s Addiction:

  • Up The Beach
  • Whores
  • Standing In The Shower… Thinking
  • Ain’t No Right
  • Three Days
  • Been Caught Stealing
  • Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey
  • Ted, Just Admit It…
  • Classic Girl
  • Mountain Song
  • Stop!
  • Summertime Rolls
  • Ocean Size

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.