West Palm Beach, Florida • August 5, 2003
It has been twelve long years since Perry Farrell started the “alternative” music festival phenomenon of Lollapalooza. Sharing the stage in 1991 were headliners of the day like Nine Inch Nails, Ice T, and Siouxsie & the Banshees, to name a few. I was as impressed with the concept and show then as I am now, having witnessed the 2003’s tour’s only Florida stop.
Although it has been several years coming, the latest incarnation of Lollapalooza is not some lame attempt to traverse the country half-heartedly in search of kids’ summer spending money. Moreover, Farrell has again assembled the hottest acts and talent which makes you want to see it… badly…
I must first state, unfortunately, that the logistics of the Amphitheatre only allowed me to catch the “main stage” acts. And to give due credit, there were many talented artists sharing the second stage; Billy Talent, Boy Sets Fire, and Burning Brides for example.
To start the day we were treated to The Distillers and Brody Armstrong’s (that’s Mrs. Tim “Rancid” Armstrong, man) punk snarls. I enjoyed their set and straight-forward approach. No bull-shit or gimmickry, just up-front rock with a great sound. I am suprised they have not received more radio airplay. Oh well, I got to hear “L.A. Girl” live!
We are not yet done with the ladies, as one of the most energetic performances of the day was on deck. The Donnas blew doors! Sure, we’ve heard their songs from Spend the Night With…, their breakthrough major-label record. However none of the studio work could have prepared me for this! Brett Anderson lit up the stage with powerful vocals and an awesome stage presence, while Allison (guitar), Maya (bass), and Torry (drums), kept it going like they had been headlining for years. A cover of Kiss’ “Strutter” was the icing on an already tasty set.
Not everything turned up “rock” on this day. Hip-hop also represented at this year’s show with Jurassic 5 on the mics. I have always been impressed with Jurassic’s four MC’s and their dexterity, timing, and ability to use individual ranges wonderfully. Their new album demonstrates all of the above. The Five had a killer backdrop in the form of a giant Technics 1200 turntable. More incredible was the actual DJ work of Cut Chemist and Marc7. These guys were amazing everyone with tricks and gadgets, like a school desk transformed into a beat-box or a child’s music toy morphed into a rhythm machine. These guys are very creative and unique in their craft.
Ah yes… back to rock… Who better to exemplify it than Queens of the Stone Age? Having just seen them live a couple months ago, I was unsure if the “spark” would still be as bright. Well, the Queens brought out a blowtorch! Mostly performing cuts from Songs for the Deaf, they wreaked havoc on an audience still preparing for three more bands. Props go to Joey Castillo, the touring drummer playing in place of Dave Grohl, who was featured on the album. He matches pace with Josh and Nick’s fury perfectly. Catch a live Queens show whenever you can! You’ll be glad you did.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are now into the top three headliners for the evening. Incubus started close to dark and many had waited anxiously just to catch Brandon and crew do it live. As a newbie to Incubus’ live show, I must comment on their impeccable sound and chemistry. All of the songs were dead-on. The set list was predictable, as the band now has plenty of “hits” to encompass an hour-long set. I still don’t know how Brandon incorporated a Lionel Ritchie song (“I Love You”), but he did, and it made a nice transition into an Incubus original.
The crowd was now abuzz for one of the most anticipated acts, Audioslave. To my knowledge, they have not performed in Florida, and I was very interested to see what would unfold. Cornell and company did not disappoint! They blew out onstage like they owned it and dealt a sonic blow that thrashed the be-jesus out of us all. Of course, all the guys are veteran rockers, but I was still impressed with how well they meshed, and the level of intensity with which they performed. The set was comprised of material from their debut record, but we did get one cool distraction – a cover of the White Stripes’ “7 Nation Army”. Cornell’s vocal range fit it to a T! It is great to see a group change their direction after losing a singer, and come back to kick ass with the likes of Chris Cornell. So often we are reduced to a Sammy Hagar for Diamond Dave trade-off.
And now… for our MAIN EVENT… Of course its going to be the main event, when you came up with the whole damned concept. But true to form, Perry and Jane’s Addiction closed out the show with a bang! The curtain opened to a stage filled with ramps and platforms all over the place. This was the prancing ground for a fishnet tank-topped and gold-trimmed-tennis-panted Perry Farrell. His gold-trimmed knee-high socks and sneakers got quite a workout as he bobbed, weaved and contorted all over the stage. Navarro, ever the rock star, was outfitted in skin-tight pleather pants and a red feather boa. Most all the old faves were offered with vigor – “Pigs in Zen”, “Comin’ Down the Mountain”, “Stop”, “Been Caught Stealin”, “Summertime Rolls”, “Ocean Size”, “Ted…just admit it”, etc. Tracks off the new album were also well received. This was a band fired up and ready to show the fans they still got “it”. No side projects or solo material here, just plain Jane’s Addiction…They shared the stage with an Asian trio called the Lolla girls, who bumped, grinded and sexed-up the affair. Ahhhh…Rockers & scantily clad women–a perfect and befitting ending to an incredible day of music.