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By Johnny Angel

Cold Shoulders:
Why has the public turned its back on the former altie darling?

Lollapalooza, love it or leave it. This year, the public seems to have opted for the latter. Despite ostensibly having the biggest-drawing duo ever (Metallica and Soundgarden) at the top of the card. In Seattle, home to Soundgarden, the entire show was postponed due to poor sales.

Considering that the top acts are riding on their most popular discs ever, and that both are hyping new product, something must be amiss. Can't just be the support acts, either: the Ramones and Rancid are good for about 2,000 people a night apiece as headliners, and with acts like Devo, Cheap Trick, Screaming Trees and the Cocteau Twins tagging along, why on earth can't this package bring in at least 20,000 folks a city?

Admittedly, the idea of playing out-of-the-way locales--like, say, Bakersfield instead of L.A.--isn't helping. Who the hell wants to add 100 miles of driving after nine hours of cochlea ripping? But given the average ticket price of around 30 ducats per, this show is a bargain, and I for one can't imagine that there aren't a zillion heshers out there salivating at the prospect of a Metallica plus Soundgarden thing.

Leads me to believe that the scourge of the decade--reverse hype--is the significant reason. Lollapalooza, for some reason unbeknownst to this writer (or unfathomable to be mo' precise), is still thought of as some altie showcase and a place to prove to the world that you know a little more than the glued-to-the-MTV mallrat. Pigeon droppings.

Not since the tour's debut with Jane's plus Siouxsie plus Buttholes plus NIN and Rollins has this been the case. Every year has brought the festival closer to the middle. The anger at Metallica is nonsense. Better them, a truly original, earth-shattering ensemble (like their bill-mates the Ramones), than some weenie shoe-gaze whinefest, but methinks that when the Great Unwashed demands a hipfest, there can be no gearhead nod in that direction. Proof of this is that Lolla pop Perry "Godfather" Farrell has backed out of his brainchild this year. Kinda like buying a ticket to Cats and ending up at the roller derby.

Or it could be that Metallica and Soundgarden are working lukewarm follow-ups to blockbusters and the world is sick of them. Or with Pistols and KISS and H.O.R.D.E. and Enit sniffing around our wallets, there are just too many paws out for concert dollerage. One monkey don't stop a show, but a dozen traveling chimp-a-thons disperses the general public's ready cash to the point where no package makes bank.

To me, Lollapalooza is a good deal for the price, some great bands doing compact sets all in one place. Don't buy the fallacy that it isn't cool anymore. What isn't cool is spending a ton on this year's hot shit that becomes next year's cold turd. Right?

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From the July 25-31, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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