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Has 'Lollapalooza' Already Sold Out?

March 07, 1993|Steve Hochman

The "Lollapalooza '93" lineup isn't expected to be announced for another week, but it looks as if it'll include Alice in Chains, Arrested Development, Fishbone and Rage Against the Machine, with other possibilities being Dinosaur Jr., Primus, Belly and Tool.

But wait till you hear the ones that got away.

One was an obvious choice for the celebrated alternative-rock festival, whose third edition kicks off June 15 in Vancouver: Nirvana, the band that blasted open the door for alternative rock's huge commercial success.

But we also hear that there were discussions with Peter Gabriel, Neil Young and a reunited Velvet Underground--acts old enough to be the parents of most of the "Lollapalooza" performers, not to mention the even younger fans that have flocked to the shows.

What happened to those possibilities?

Nirvana reportedly rejected all overtures, which isn't surprising because the Seattle trio had been critical of the "Lollapalooza" concept for packaging alternative rock as a commodity.

The talks with Young and the Velvet Underground never went past the first round, but Gabriel was reportedly interested--even wanting to bring along some of the international artists who record for his Real World label. But the plan was eventually dropped by the "Lollapalooza" planners as too unwieldy.

So what's the reaction to the lineup?

Lots of industry insiders surveyed by Pop Eye are upset, charging the roster is too predictable to be considered cutting-edge. They point out that Alice in Chains has become an established act, with its latest album, "Dirt," selling around 1.5 million, while Arrested Development's debut album has sold more than 3 million. The group also just won two Grammys.

Some even accuse the tour of becoming a "corporate sellout," favoring major-label acts and predictable musical styles rather than independent acts and sounds that the fans would otherwise not get to hear.

" 'Lollapalooza' was always supposed to be about curve balls, like you think you know what it's going to do, but it does something different," says one of several ex-"Lollapalooza" staff members who expressed disappointment in this year's plans. "This year it looks predictable."

But isn't this what skeptics said last year about "Lollapalooza '92," a tour--featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Ice Cube and Ministry--that turned out to be critically admired.

"We're really getting slagged because of the alternative thing," says agent Don Muller, one of the "Lollapalooza" co-founders. He notes that most quality alternative acts are now getting signed to major labels before they have a chance to release independent recordings. "I'm not sure how more alternative we can be than we are and still have a show that a lot of people will want to see."

Susan Silver, manager of both Alice in Chains and '92 "Lollapalooza" band Soundgarden, takes a more militant stand against complainers: "Screw 'em. People get cynical about anything that becomes something not precious to their little club."

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