Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lollapalooza - July 23, 2003

Back in 2003, Lollapalooza was still a travelling tour, as opposed to the one city, one weekend event that is the current format. In the summer of 2003, Lollapalooza announced their tour dates and one of the stops was at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. With bands like Incubus, Audioslave, and Jane’s Addiction on the bill, there was no way I would miss out.

The Donnas
The Donnas opened the main stage in style. I always wondered what happened to The Donnas. They were a decent, all girl band, and in 2003, I thought they would go on to be hugely successful. Their live act was solid, they looked magnificent (hot, sweaty, beautiful women playing rock and roll is always attractive), and they had a hit song in “Take It Off.” With so much going right, I am surprised that this band didn’t take off. As it was, I was happy to see them in concert and thought they did a great job as a live act.

Queens Of The Stone Age
I had never seen Queens Of The Stone Age prior to Lollapalooza, and I barely knew their music. I was familiar with a song or two that I had heard on the radio, but other than that, I had not paid them much attention. Thus, I had no idea what to expect when it was their turn to rock the Arts Center. All I knew is that they were the bridge to Incubus.

In a brief, simple, summary, this band sucked. I rarely trash any bands, as I know how hard it is to make good music, go out on stage, and perform in front of crowds both large and small, but there is no other way for me to state how I felt about Queens Of The Stone Age. It could quite possibly be the worst musical performance I ever sat through.

The lead singer had a voice that sound like broken glass being chewed. The instruments were all out of tune, and it appeared that the band did way too much partying before taking the stage. Hence, the band sucked. I quickly forgot about them and never gave QOTSA another thought until now. Most likely, I will never think about them again.

This would be my first time witnessing Incubus live. I knew they would perform a condensed set, but figured it would be packed with hits, which would make me happy. Incubus delivered. While their performance at Lollapalooza was nowhere near as grand as their headlining performance I witnessed years later, it was still a power packed show.

Without lighting, special effects, or any other extras that headliners get, Incubus focused on the music. And that was enough for the crowd. Incubus’ music is what makes them special and there is no need for them to rely on special effects to enhance their show. The music does all the talking.

My only disappointment with Incubus was the fact that they did not play one of their biggest hits. For whatever reason, “Drive” was not on the set list that night, and to this day, I am still scratching my head over that.

2003 was really the year of Audioslave. After Rage Against The Machine split up and Soundgarden called it a day, Chris Cornell and the members of Rage (minus Zach) got together and made a super group. And super they were. Their debut album ranks in my top 50 albums of all time. The year it was released, I played it nonstop. To finally witness these songs in their live format was the treat of the night.

The band opened with a White Stripes song, which I found an odd thing to do. Not only were they opening with a song that wasn’t their own, but the song they chose (“Seven Nation Army”) was a current White Stripes song. I can’t recall ever seeing a band cover a current hit in concert. That being said, they performed a damned good version of the song.

After the cover intro, Audioslave songs followed. All of the best songs from their self-titled debut were played and the crowd loved it. Chris Cornell has a voice for the angels and Tom Morello is a guitar whiz worthy of being considered one of the greats. Their live performance really did the band justice.

Toward the end of their set, Cornell came out on stage solo with an acoustic guitar and played a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.” It was well done and of course, the New Jersey crowd went wild for the Bruce cover.

Overall, Audioslave was magnificent. It was the only time I saw them in concert, but it was a memorable one.

Jane’s Addiciton
The headliners of the show were the recently reunited Jane’s Addiction. They were touring behind a brand new album, Strays, which was a solid record. This would be my second time seeing them in concert, so I knew how great the band was live. That night would be no exception.

As Jane’s set started, I noticed something strange occurring in front of me. It had been a long day of music, and a lot of people had a little too much (or way too much) to drink. By that time of the night, goofy things were bound to happen.

The not-so-gentleman in front of me and my friends decided that it was time for a bathroom break, but apparently he did not want to miss any of Jane’s Addiction. So, right in front of us and everyone else on the lawn, he whipped out his rod urinated. The crowd around him dissipated quickly, giving him plenty of room. After he finished tapping the tree, he zipped up and went right on rocking. I had to question what I just saw, but my friends confirmed it. We just watched a guy piss on the lawn at a Jane’s Addiction concert.

As for the real show, it was magnificent. Ninety minutes of great music from one of the founding fathers of alternative rock. I have always been enamored with Perry Farrell, considering him a musical genius. His excellence showed on that night as he and the rest of the band performed a concert that was entertaining, packed with hit songs, and extremely well performed. There were no complaints from me or my friends.

Lollapalooza 2003 was an entertaining event and worth the price of admission. While it would be the last time that I would see Jane’s Addiction in concert, they gave me quite a memory to go out on.

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