Nobody seems to want Lollapalooza, the alternative-rock package tour that helped put such bands as Rage Against the Machine and Nine Inch Nails on the pop-music map.
Since it announced its lineup (which features such loud guitar bands as Metallica, Soundgarden, the Ramones and Rancid) and began looking for fields to tour through, Lollapalooza has been confronted by city councils, community boards and police departments trying to keep the festival out of their towns and has been abandoned by some alternative-rock fans turned off by the show's heavy-metal headliner."Did we make it easier on ourselves by making Metallica the headliner?" asked Marc Geiger, one of Lollapalooza's organizers. "No, we made it harder on ourselves. We may have taken too big of a risk."
Putting together Lollapalooza this summer may be one of the hardest jobs any concert booker or promoter has had to face. The festival is operating with many new handicaps. Chief among them is its desire to travel only to outdoor fields that can hold 35,000 to 40,000 people (as opposed to last year's amphitheaters, which held about 18,000).
Along with the fact that Me-tal-li-ca and other bands want to tour major cities on their own after the festival ends in August, this has situated most of Lollapalooza's shows in rural areas. For many of these smaller towns, which are not used to big rock shows, especially not in traditional venues like stadiums or arenas, Lollapalooza's lineup is a scary freak show.
While Lollapalooza has had to deal with community hostility at dozens of prospective sites in some places, like Rockford, Ill., the festival has succeeded in rallying the support of music fans and the media to coax park and city council officials in opposition to the concert to relent.
Elsewhere, as in Northampton, Mass., Lollapalooza lost the battle because the city council felt misled when it discovered that the "big bands" described in the festival's event permit were not the likes of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey but rather Metallica and Sound-garden.
On Wednesday, Lollapalooza announced the addition of a New York City show on July 10 at Downing Stadium on Randalls Island. It was an act of desperation. The organizers originally had no intention of booking any show in a stadium, but no other town around Manhattan would take Lolla-pa-loo-za.
City officials at one prospective site, Middletown, N.Y., balked because of traffic concerns and production problems and at another, Medford, N.J., the police department refused to cooperate with promoters because they said they were ill-equipped to deal with the festival crowds.
Although it has tried, Lol-la-pa-loo-za will not be coming to areas around Detroit, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Boston.
Metallica has presented tour organizers with an additional problem: ticket sales. Though record executives expect the band's new album, which was released Tuesday, to sell close to a million copies in its first week (a nearly unprecedented coup), tickets to this year's Lollapalooza have been selling much more slowly than last year's, when the more obscure Sonic Youth was a headliner.
And this summer, success is more critical than ever, because of the extra $250,000 to $300,000 it costs to produce the show in such large fields.
"I think a lot of the alternative kids don't want to go because they've been formatted to death by alternative radio and told Metal-li-ca is uncool," Geiger said.
"And then there are the Metal-li-ca fans who want to wait to see them play their own show in an arena for three hours with their own sound and light production. But if they miss this show, they're missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Metallica perform alongside the Cocteau Twins, Waylon Jennings, Devo and the Wu Tang Clan, depending on what show they go to."