Tomorrow starts Lollapalooza, one of the greatest and most legendary alternative music festivals of all time, and now entering it’s 20th anniversary. The Lollapalooza plain has changed drastically over the years. The little alternative gathering with bands like Violent Femmes, Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails, and Rollins Band has turned into a mainstream juggernaut. Today acts like Eminem, The Foo Fighters, and Coldplay are the ones headlining the tour and it attracts artists from all over the music scene. Today we look back at the orignins of Lollapalooza with some first hand testimony from Victor Delorenzo, drummer of the Violent Femmes.
Back in 1991, the festival was the brainchild of Perry Farrel of Jane’s Addiction. His was idea was to create one festival that would showcase all the “alternative” under the radar rock acts in music, and make way for the alternative movement that is still alive today. The show is now based out of Chicago, but back then it took place in what’s always been the most optimal spot for alternative music, California. It served both as a farewell tour for Jane’s Addiction and a chance for music fans to see all the best alternative music acts all in one shot.
We got a chance to sit down with Victor Delorenzo, the drummer of the now broken up Violent Femmes, one of the few bands selected to headline the tour in 1991. As Victor tells me, the Violent Femmes were pioneers in a lot of ways in the early 90’s alternative scene. Rather than sticking to their studio tracks as they were, they experiments a lot in concert with improvisation and changing set lists. Victor describes their music as a sort of “Folk-Punk.” This made them a very unique act and a great addition to Lollapalooza, despite the relative lack of fanfare.
According to Victor “We were approached by our booking agent Frank Riley, who had a connection with another agent who helped conceive the tour with Perry Farrell.” When they first got the nod, Victor told me they thought of the whole concept as a “Lineup of losers. As the old Groucho Marxx joke goes, we didn’t want to be a part of any club that would actually have is.” None the less, they thought it would be a cool thing to be a part of it, and Victor tells me they were particularly excited to see Ice-T with his punk band Body Count.
When I asked about the atmosphere, Victor tells me there was some craziness but for the most part “It was something new so people in some regards had their guards up.” According to him, “There were also already clicks between east coast and west coast bands. Being from the Mid-West we didn’t really fit in, and not many people knew about us. Like the weird uncle you keep in the attic.” At the end of the day though, Victor tells me that being apart of it was something else, so much so that the band came back together to play the show again in 2006. Check out the video below.
Today the Violent Femmes are broken up, and DeLorenzo’s bandmates are in a lawsuit against each other. DeLorenzo is still very invovled in the music business. He is currently producing an album for Neil Young’s sister Astrid, and tours with a 3 piece Cello act called Nineteen Thirteen. Check them out on their BandCamp Page. Delorenzo says he is still hoping for the best with Viloent Femmes, and would love the opportunity to play Lollapalooza again.
This year’s Lollapalooza is totally stacked. As I mentioned before, headlining acts include Eminem, The Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Muse, and My Morning Jacket. Most of the other bands are relatively alternative and independent acts like Cage The Elephant, and The Drums, but need less to say, the tour has become something gigantic. The major festival itself is based out of Chicago right now, and it has gone through it’s bumps along the road, disbanding and reviving once or twice. With underground movements like Indie and Dub-Sep exploding, the interest in alternative music has spiked again, and no matter who headlines, Lollapalooza will always be about the underground.
The Campus Socialite will be at this year’s festival drinking, partying, and head-banging with the rest of the crow. We’re also bringing our notebooks and iPhones, so check back next week for some re-cap and some interviews with some of the top acts on the tour. If you’re going to Lollapalooza, keep a look out for us. We might just hit you up for your feedback. If we aren’t too stoned.