The summer of 1994 was pretty significant for me as I was given a piece of extended freedom, my first car. Although it was a crap ride it became the vessel that shipped us from show to show for years to come. Faded black, a DIY sun roof, no A/C, a blocked muffler, and a bunk 6-speed . Nothing but the best from Mitsubishi’s 1984 Mirage assembly line. Fast forward to springtime and my buddy and I decided to stand in line at the wee early hours of a Sunday morning in from of a Music Plus store (now a stereo chop-shop) to buy 4 tickets to my first major festival, Lollapalooza 1994. I miss those days of standing in line getting tickets at a first come first served service. The line up that year was going to be headlined by Nirvana, who I missed a couple months back at their Forum gig in Inglewood on their In Utero headlining tour. So knowing that I was FINALLY going to see them live was worth the 5-hour wait in line. Oh, the sips of beer and second hand smoke also helped. Fast forward to April, Nirvana was no more as Cobain checked out, and the Smashing Pumpkins were now the headliners. I was bummed, but the line up was still set to amaze.
The day of the show myself, my buddy Erik, my Uncle Larry and his friend headed down to the Cal State Dominguez Hills “Velodrome” for LollaPalooza 1994. Little did I know that stepping into those gates and seeing a sea of people engulfed in pulsating sonic barrages would open my eyes and ears to new music and a new way of life. Right when we got in Green Day started their set and I was just transfixed and consumed by the blaring speakers and insanse atmosphere that was all new to me. Green Day played a quick set and I believe L7 took stage next, and goddamn they were fucking loud and dirty! My ears buzzed for the next couple of days because of their set. Shortly after them Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds bored me to death because I was 17 and just didn’t know any better so we went down to the 2nd stage just in time for quick sets by Shonen Knife, Stereolab and Cypress Hill. We shoved our ways to the front stage when Cypress took the stage. Just as they started their first song this big burly dude started to jump up and down and smashed my toe to bits.
Later that evening I would find out that he ripped by big left toe nail off and caused all kinds of problems, but it was worth it. This is pre-cheesy Cypress so they mostly played songs off their self titled album and Black Sunday. It’s easy to say I was also second hand high so I always assumed that helped me with the toe pain in my left sock. Once the 2nd stage wrapped up we headed back to the main just in time for Tribe Called Quest’s amazing set which included, “Sucka N**ga”, “Check The Rhime”, and “Can I Kick It.” I pretty much ignored George Clinton, the clown outfit he had on and his 95 musicians he brought on stage as I just wanted his mess to be over with so that the Beastie Boys would take over. I think the Beasties opened with “Sure Shot” from Ill Communication, and the crowd went nuts. We jumped up and down with the masses as they plowed thru songs from Check Your Head to Ill Communication with ease. Ill Communication was in heavy rotation in the Mitsubishi Mirage that year so I was loving it. In that moment in time that day was perfect. After that I sorta lost track of the remaining bands as I started to realize my to was really tore up and fatigue started to quickly set in.
We once again smashed our way to the front of the main stage for the final band, the Smashing Pumpkins. Maybe it was the fatigue, the lack of food and water, or the fact that Siamese Dream sounded like garbage to me at the time, but the Pumpkins were terrible that night. Corgan’s screeching vocals were cutting through my brain like a rusty knife and I couldn’t wait for them to wrap it up. They played what seemed like an eternity, but once again some second hand smoke eased the pain as Corgan and Co. slowly went thru the motions while playing “Disarm.” As the night closed out I was exhausted and yet very satisfied. The Smashing Pumpkins ended and my perfect day was almost done unit my Uncle realized his wallet was gone. For the next hour or so he insisted on sifting thru the front stage garbage on the ground and refused to believe the chick he was dancing with an hour before lifted his wallet. But at that pointed it really didn’t matter how the night would end, as it couldn’t get any more perfect than it was. That final day of summer (Junior year of high school started in 2-days) had come to a conclusion, and the night was over. Lollapalooza 1994 was an amazing experience for me. It pointed me in new directions musically, culturally and in years to come professionally. It’s easy to say it was a teenage highlight that I will never forget. I also have to admit, its the best Lollapalooza I’ve gone to since. Here are a few gems from ’94 class along with the entire line up that year.
The Smashing Pumpkins
George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars
A Tribe Called Quest
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
The Flaming Lips
The Boo Radleys
Guided By Voices
Girls Against Boys
Shudder to Think
God Lives Underwater
Charlie Hunter Trio
Blast Off Country Style
Souls of Mischief
The Black Crowes
Beastie Boys :: “Shadrach” from the album Paul’s Boutique (1989)
Shudder To Think :: “Shake Your Halo Down” from the album Get Your Goat (1992)
Cypress Hill :: “Hand on the Pump” from the Self Titled album (1991)
Tribe Called Quest :: “Can I Kick It” from the album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths Rhythm
L7 :: “Shove” from the album Small the Magic (1991)
Smashing Pumpkins :: “Mayonaise (live)”
Fu-Schnickens :: “Breakdown”
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds :: “Red Right Hand” from the album Let Love In (1994)
The Pharcyde :: “Passin’ Me By” from the album Bizarre Ride II: The Pharcyde (1992)