You could probably assume as much by the review’s disdainful headline, but Bill Wyman was not enamored with Lollapalooza ’92. Never one to mince words, the former Reader writer, now a culture critic at Al Jazeera America, wrote a scathing critique of the second Lollapalooza to hit the Chicago area 23 years ago at Tinley Park’s World Music Theater (now Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre), which you can read here.
He cited the festival’s weak lineup and—surprise—the rainy weather: “For those of us who were there,” wrote Wyman, “the rain that began around the time Pearl Jam started their set and quickly grew to downpour proportions meant that the words Lollapalooza ’92 will forever conjure up the pungently aromatic memory of tens of thousands of soggy teens.”
Looking back, the muddy mess made by drenched and overeager music fans in the outdoor suburban venue sounds like a fair item of contention. But Wyman’s assertion that the lineup included only “one pretty good group” in Ministry seems overheated. It’s easy to take shots at weak one-hit-wonders like House of Pain, and the glaring lack of female artists beyond Lush, but Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were nearly the four horsemen of ’90s alternative rock. This was also a high point in Ice Cube’s career (who Wyman labels “scary”) back when the former NWA rapper was creating controversy—not Coors Light commercials.
It’d be interesting to hear what Wyman might say about the 2015 edition of Lollapalooza this weekend—which has ballooned into an overstuffed, three-day event at Grant Park with nearly 100,000 attendees per day. The one-day, ten-hour 1992 version with around 30,000 attendees seems almost quaint by comparison.