As the summer of 1991 was coming to a close, a new musical happening was taking place. An outdoor music festival that boasted the best names in various genres of punk, industrial, rock, hardcore, rap, and alternative music. The festival was called Lollapalooza and it was to take place at the CNE grandstand on the 7th of August. Derek was just as excited as I was, so we got tickets and were there with bells on when the big day arrived. The festival was an all day event that ran from 11am until around midnight.
When we got there I was a bit shocked to see all of the corporate sponsors that were involved in this project. It seemed contradictory to me that all these "underground" bands were coming together under the mighty wing of corporate American companies. Another thing that took me back was the fact that all the chairs were zip tied together, leaving all of us fans packed like sardines with absolutely no floor area to dance and mosh.
Security was also in full force. You couldn't so much as get a lighter to your joint before some meathead was in your face threatening to throw you out. I felt this event was way too policed considering the acts involved and what the festival supposedly stood for, not to mention it was an outdoor event and they were treating us as if we were in a small concert theatre. Speaking of the acts, the line up for the day consisted of: Rollins Band, Butthole Surfers, Ice T, Nine Inch Nails, Living Colour, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and Janes Addiction.
It was a hot day and somewhat frustrating being confined to a seat the entire time, but we made the best of it as we were there for the music. Rollins Band and Butthole Surfers did their thing and tried to work the crowd up, but most people sat quietly and spectated, with the exception of these two wacky guys we labelled "The Butthole Brothers" who were on their feet dancing and grooving the whole time. We ended up chatting with them and they had came from Kalamazoo to Toronto for the summer, they were living on the streets panhandling to get by.
When Ice T hit the stage it was like everyone woke up. Ice commanded every bodies undivided attention, and he had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand. Half way through the set he dropped the rapping and brought out his new thrash metal band "Body Count" to play a few songs, which was an incredible surprise. They blew everyone away as nobody had heard of BC yet. During the set, I noticed former Black Flag vocalist Henry Rollins standing off to the side watching the performance. I decided to approach him and said "Hey Hank, would you mind if I got an autograph?" Rollins briefly broke his gaze from the stage, looked me up and down, and then diverted his eyes back to Body Count. Hank finally spoke up and said "What is an autograph? It's just a name on a piece of paper. I'm a regular human being just as you are...." I walked away in the middle of Henry's philosophical rant and returned to my seat. By the time I parked my ass I noticed he was signing autographs for a bunch of girls. "What a fucking asshole!" I thought to myself.
Living Colour had always been close to my heart so it was amazing to get to see them rock out. Most of the crowd wasn't that responsive to them as they were a bit more of a mainstream rock band, but I was in sheer bliss. I was never a fan of NIN or Siouxsie, so those two performances were quite boring and uninteresting for me. Finally after a long, hot day of music, the sun was completely down, the stars were shining, and it was time for Janes Addiction to hit the stage...