Rockin' for the Free World
To all you Nation readers with a punk rock heart, listen up: Here are two good reasons to yank out those Jane's Addiction T-shirts from your storage bins and get tickets for this year's Lollapalooza.
The first is that this year's lineup is the best of any package tour in years: The Pixies, PJ Harvey, Morrissey, Sonic Youth, Le Tigre, Wilco and Modest Mouse (among dozens of others) are all on the bill (check it out at Lollapalooza.com). The second is that Lollapalooza is going political. Through a new partnership with MoveOn.Org, tour organizers hope to politically mobilize the young and the hip en masse as they rock out in outdoor venues across the country this summer.
Organizers are calling this collaboration the "Revolution Solution." As the two-day festival tours, a MoveOn tent will travel and distribute literature on "RS" issues, including: renewable energy and the environment, free speech and media deregulation, trade policy and voting rights. Activists will conduct onsite voter registration drives, and street teams will infiltrate the crowd to chat folks up on the issues. Move.On will also run a "Real World"- style video booth where concertgoers can film their own political commentary while asking issue-related questions (select pieces of the footage will be used on an "RS" website down the road). "We want to get young people to talk about what's going on, and to feel empowered," explains Lollapalooza issues director Claudette Silver. "The young people who are our audience are primed for this."
Additionally, MoveOn will place huge media screens next to the main stage at select shows. Between musical sets, issue-oriented videos will air, featuring well-known thinkers, celebrities and some regular folks speaking about issues important to them. Additionally, MoveOn will arrange for well-known political speakers to briefly take the stage to discuss a chosen issue before the main act, which he or she will then introduce. Picture Al Gore chatting up the crowd about environmental issues and then introducing the Pixies. It's weird, but kind of cool, and will definitely get people talking.
And this--getting people talking--is ultimately the point. Lollapalooza mastermind and executive producer Perry Farrell, the tattooed and wild-eyed frontman of seminal LA rock band Jane's Addiction, explains the philosophy of the project this way: "Our plan is to unify the universal mind and gain favor through inspired speech, grandiose gatherings, sharing better ideas and voting decisively.... Never before in the history of mankind has there been such an opportunity to change the world through the power of one's own presence." Adds Silver: "We have such a long history of music as part of social change, and we're helping to put this into really concrete terms."
The tour will practice what it will preach. Lollapalooza's third performance stage (there are three total, which combined will feature thirty-odd bands at each event) will run entirely on solar energy throughout the tour. Additionally, the entire two days of performances in New York City on Randall's Island will be run "off the grid." Through a combination of solar, biodiesel and hydrogen fuel cells, the show will be produced without the use of any petroleum products whatsoever.
Yet Lollapalooza's most radical component might be as simple as its price. A two-day pass will average about $50 throughout the tour--a bargain in today's climate of overpriced entertainment. At that price, not only can you afford to be part of the "Revolution Solution." You can buy a T-shirt, too.