Most of the year, the stars come out once the sun goes down. But in the summer -- in amphitheaters around the country -- stars emerge much earlier, showing their faces in broad daylight. Music acts hit the road together, presenting their wares to a voracious audience that figures more is better and extreme is the name of the game. We live in an era of all-day saturation, a music carnival tradition that goes back almost 50 years but whose modern equivalent saw the light of day circa 1991.
Since freakrock flower-child Perry Farrell saw his awkwardly named seed, Lollapalooza, germinate, blossom and eventually wilt, every group who considers putting on a large-scale traveling festival has used Lollapalooza's seven-year run as their model for both what to do and what not to do. Marci Weber, manager to Moby as well as one of the organizers behind this year's inaugural Area:One tour (which kicks off July 11 at HiFi Buys Amphitheatre) believes a dissatisfaction with the homogenous nature of commercial music has built up throughout the late '90s. That, she says, created an appetite for the diversified line-up Area:One offers -- including Moby, OutKast, Incubus, the Roots, Nelly Furtado and top DJs including Paul Oakenfold and Carl Cox.
When it comes to radio and record stores, Weber says, "everything is so compartmentalized. We've found that [the organizers of Area:One] have a broad range of tastes and want to put them together because we're not alone -- we think there's a lot of people like us. And it's very similar to what Lollapalooza tried to do when Perry [Farrell] first brought it out. I think they really tried to change the perception of music and bring many different kinds of genres together."
Others in the industry, however, preach caution when considering how broad to book their bills. The music booking arm of Creative Artists Agency, a powerful Hollywood firm, has been instrumental in organizing the other three of the four major festival tours visiting Atlanta this summer. They include the well-worn metal-oriented Ozzfest (July 7 at HiFi Buys Amphitheatre) -- whose stages this year host Black Sabbath (featuring Ozzy Osbourne), Crazy Town, Linkin Park, Marilyn Manson, Papa Roach and Slipknot, among others -- and the Vans Warped Tour (July 25 at HiFi Buys Amphitheatre), which features extreme sports exhibitions in addition to high-energy rock.
The third, a new creation called Wotapalava (July 15 at HiFi Buys Amphitheatre), was organized with the Pet Shop Boys (who conceived it with Elton John) to be subtly gay-oriented and promote everyone's right to a good time. "The name kind of expresses the philosophy," says the Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant, "because it's an old English slang term that means 'what a fuss about nothing.'"
Darryl Eaton, a music agent at CAA, is credited with co-creating the Vans Warped Tour, which started in 1995 and now is the oldest of the current summer tours. It's also the only one of the big four not associated with an artist/ringleader (Ozzfest is linked to Ozzy Osbourne, Area:One to Moby and Wotapalava to the Pet Shop Boys). According to Eaton, lessons he learned from Lollapalooza and the jam-band oriented H.O.R.D.E. tour have helped the continued prosperity of the Warped Tour -- which this year includes 311, Rancid, Jimmy Eat World, Less Than Jake and Kool Keith, plus a large cast of young, punk-oriented bands.
"Part of the reason for the demise of Lollapolooza was that they were very much on the cutting edge," says Eaton, "then all of a sudden they keep developing to try and get bigger and bigger -- bringing in Metallica and other bands to get a broader demographic. H.O.R.D.E. went from jam bands and Blues Traveler -- bands very true to their followers -- then went outside their core demographic, so fans no longer felt like the person standing next to them at the concert was their kind of person. At some of these tours, like Ozzfest, there's a definite sense of community within the people who go. Same with the Warped Tour and Wotapalava. I think the communal aspect of these festivals is the defining aspect."
Where Wotapalava, Ozzfest and the Warped Tour can be reasonably assured of attracting its target audience, Area:One faces the greater challenge because it lacks a specific focus. Area:One's organizers are counting on there being enough fans of diverse music out there to constitute a sort of anti-subculture subculture.
Says Area:One's Weber, "We're as much inspired by Lollapalooza as we are by many of the European Festivals we've spent the last few years working on. There's a wonderful array of music at these festivals -- there's a tent for world music, hip-hop, trip-hop, progressive, trance, straight-ahead rock, alternative. There's no problem with mixing so many different types of music all together and I think it inspired us to do the same thing here."
*Christ, Lord sorry
"Punk" style like this seems like it is the polar opposite of punk. Bradford Cox…
They're kind of starting to look like a joke of themselves. Song's good though.
All 80s movies want you...
Their show with Chris, Lord about 3 years at the Unicorn was the best.