Perry Farrell, front man of Jane's Addiction, was hardly a force in the rock marketplace three years ago when he recorded these lyrics to "Standing in the Shower . . . Thinking."
Standing in the shower thinking
About what makes a man an outlaw or a leader,
I'm thinking about power . . .
The ways a man could use it or be destroyed by it.
These days, Jane's Addiction does have a good deal of market pull, the success of its "Ritual de lo Habitual" album having established the band as an arena attraction. Maybe Farrell's under-the-nozzle ruminations had something to do with Jane's Addiction's decision to use its newfound power in an uncommon way: as instigator of the traveling festival called the Lollapalooza, intended to introduce fans to a day's worth of variety in rock.
The program, in reverse order of appearance, features Jane's Addiction (hard rock with an artsy bent), Siouxsie and the Banshees (former punkette now devoted to an ultra-romantic Gothic sound), Living Colour (a mix of funk, hard rock, insight and thematic variation that makes it one of the most promising young American bands), Nine Inch Nails (hammering industrial rock full of fear and loathing, but not without pop appeal), Ice-T (the emphatic rapper who is the self-proclaimed "Original Gangster" of hard-core rap steeped in ghetto violence), BH Surfers (Texas-based devotees of noisy, psychedelic sendups) and the Rollins Band (led by Henry Rollins, former ranter of L.A. punkers Black Flag).
The mixing and matching of styles on a single concert bill was the rule, not the exception, in rock's early days, from Allan Freed's '50s extravaganzas to Bill Graham's multi-act Fillmore concerts during the late '60s and early '70s. By the mid-'70s, radio consultants and mass-marketing honchos had changed all that, having discovered that it was easier to move the product by pitching each item to narrow target audiences divided by race and stylistic preference.
Last year, Ian Astbury of the Cult helped put the ideal of community amid diversity back on the concert agenda with the Gathering of the Tribes, a daylong rap, folk and alternative rock event staged here and in the Bay Area. But that Tribes show, and a recently staged second edition of it, didn't have the mass pull of Lollapalooza, which promoters say is shaping up as the hottest-selling tour of a slack summer season.
Jane's Addiction has a lot to do with that. With its amoralist themes and sense of unpredictability, the Los Angeles band has emerged as a sort of Guns N' Roses for the college crowd. Farrell provides the conceptual framework and a distinctive nasal yowl of a voice, and the rest of the four-man band supplies authoritative crunch grounded in Led Zeppelin, but flavored with funk and psychedelic rock.
In recent interviews, Farrell has been talking about his intention of leaving Jane's Addiction and devoting himself to film and visual arts. While talk of an imminent breakup is always a good box office ploy, the instability surrounding Jane's Addiction seems real. And in rock, as in nuclear physics, the least stable conditions tend to be the most explosive.
What: Lollapalooza Festival, with Jane's Addiction, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Living Colour, Nine Inch Nails, Ice-T, BH Surfers and Rollins Band.
When: Sunday, July 21, Tuesday, July 23, and Wednesday, July 24, at 2 p.m. Sunday is sold out.
Where: Irvine Meadows, 8800 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine.
Whereabouts: San Diego (405) Freeway to Irvine Center Drive exit. Turn left at the end of the ramp if you're coming from the south, right if you're coming from the north.
Wherewithal: $24.75 and $29.75.
Where to call: (714) 740-2000.