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Rockapaloozer

By Marc Weidenbaum

Folks expecting anything in the way of digital music from the upcoming Lollapalooza summer tour will apparently be disappointed.

The touring festival is back after a six-year absence, headlined by the rock bands Jane’s Addiction and Audioslave. The festival was once renowned for its adventurous spirit, but the acts initially reported for the 2003 edition are almost uniformly guitar-based rock bands, plus a bit of hip-hop, as well as a belly-dancing troupe. For full details, check out the tour’s website at Lollapalooza.com.

Jane’s Addiction is led by singer Perry Farrell, who founded Lollapalooza in 1991. Lollapalooza is widely regarded as having reinvigorated the festival circuit for a generation of music fans raised in the cathode glow of MTV. In Lollapalooza’s wake, tours such as Lilith Fair (founded by singer Sarah McLachlan in 1997), Ozzfest (overseen by heavy-metal eminence grise Ozzy Osbourne since 1996, long before an MTV reality series transformed him into a lovable alterna-patriarch) and, more recently, Area: One (which was founded by techno-pop star Moby), not to mention H.O.R.D.E. (the Blues Traveler-sponsored festival that ran from 1992 through 1998) and Warped Tour, took notice of the festival’s multiple-stage and genre-grab-bag approach.

The apparent absence of electronic music during Lollalooza 2003 is particularly striking, given that Farrell toured behind his own solo DJ album, Song Yet to Be Sung, in 2001. It would be hard to argue that the decision to exclude electronic music is primarily financial, since a number of the acts on Lollapalooza 2003 (Burning Brides, Cold, the Distillers, Kings of Leon, the Music) are hardly household names. Furthermore, the serial festivals Coachella and All Tomorrow’s Parties both focus heavily on electronic music.

From initial reports, the closest the tour gets to digital output is a pair of industrial-flavored rock acts, A Perfect Circle on the main stage and 30 Seconds to Mars on the second stage, and a pair of solid hip-hop acts, Jurassic 5 on the main stage and Pharoahe Monch on the second stage. (Of course, bands may be added down the road, and there is vague mention of “interactive wireless spectacles” in one press release.)

Electronic music had been a common sound at Lollapalooza for its initial seven-year run, from 1991 through 1997. Those tours included various electronic acts, notably Stereolab, Moby and Cocteau Twins. True to Jane’s Addiction’s epic-rock sound, much of the electronic music on these earlier tours focused on industrial music, including the bands Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and Front 242. The last Lollapalooza tour, in 1997, was particularly high on electronic music. It featured the Prodigy, the Orb and Tricky.

The 2003 tour starts in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on July 3 and ends in Seattle on August 23. It coincides with the release of the first Jane’s Addiction studio album since 1990’s Ritual de lo Habitual. The new album is titled Hypersonic.

In related news, former Rage Against the Machine singer Zack de la Rocha teamed up with DJ Shadow to record “March of Death,” an anti-war song, in late March. The song had been available at MarchOfDeath.com. De la Rocha split from his three fellow Rage Against the Machine members over creative differences in the fall of 2000. While that remaining trio formed Audioslave with Cornell, whose previous band had been the grunge stalwart Soundgarden, de la Rocha has been reportedly recording with hip-hop and electronic producers for his forthcoming solo album. Various outlets, including MTV News, have reported that Shadow, Trent Reznor, Dan “The Automator” Nakamura and Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs are among de la Rocha’s collaborators.

Whereas Lollapalooza has been reborn as a largely alternative-rock affair, the generally rootsy jam band community is welcoming electronic music with open arms. In contrast with Lollapalooza’s straight-ahead rock this year, the second Bonnaroo festival, the jam-band summit scheduled this June 13 – 15 in Manchester, Tennessee, includes on its bill such electronic-oriented acts as Tortoise, Mix Master Mike, Kid Koala, DJ Z-Trip, Particle, DJ Spooky and RJD2 — in an otherwise pastoral setting headlined by the Dead, Widespread Panic, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, James Brown, the Allman Brothers Band and Lucinda Williams. And a newly announced second 2003 Bonnaroo — Bonnaroo NE, to be held August 8 – 10 in Riverhead, New York — will include Cut Chemist, X-Ecutioners and Disco Biscuits; the NE headliners include the Dead, Dave Matthews (performing with Tim Reynolds) and Bob Dylan.

Related links: Lollalapooza’s website. All Tomorrow’s Parties’s website. Coachella’s website. Bonnaroo’s website.

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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