Old 97's Chalk Lolla' 97 Up To Bad Experience

If Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller took one thing away from Lollapalooza '97, it was that Korn and his band don't mix. Neither do Britain's James and the Texas-style alterna-country rockers, for that matter.

"The lesson we came away from Lollapalooza with was 'If you like Korn, you

won't like the Old 97's.' It was a big, glorified Korn concert this year.

Except when Devo played, and Devo, even when they were playing to a ton of

Korn fans, were just so fucking great that they made it all worthwhile."

When the Dallas, Texas speed-twang band Old 97's start writing their essays on

how they spent their summer vacation, a large part of it undoubtedly will concern their appearance as a second stage band on Lollapalooza '97, an installment of the annual festival that came under fire by critics for low ticket sales and an unstable lineup.

The band, supporting their recent major-label debut, Too Far To Care, found the festival to be an experience to say the least, Miller said. "Generally, it was pretty tough, though. We got heckled and hollered at," he explained. "People threw our CDs back at us. I figured that Lollapalooza had some weird fan base where eclectic music fans came. I don't know who told me that."

For Miller some of the musical highlights came with performances by Tricky, who, ironically, dropped off the tour while the Old 97's were on it, citing conflicts with his recording schedule. "By the end, there was no Korn, no Tricky, and I think Prodigy wasn't doing it either. I don't know what people paid 40 dollars to go and see... James?

"What a bunch of fops those guys were! James would come in backstage with

their unbuttoned, British-teabag thing, and they'd be bringing girls back... combined with pretentious Brit-stuff, and they got on my nerves pretty

bad."

It's natural to see why Old 97's and James clashed. There's no room for

"pretentious Brit-stuff" in the homespun country-rock sound of Old 97's.

Although the Old 97's sound may not have been a hit with Korn fans and the like, the band has been causing a buzz for fans of other types of music.

Since their beginnings in March of 1993, the band has been constantly

building a reputation the old-fashioned way: with sweaty, intense live shows

that are distinctly its own. The Old 97's caught the eye of Lolla organizers

before their album had even been released, which lead to their stint

on Lollapalooza '97.

And for a while, despite the lack of camaraderie, Miller said, the

boys actually enjoyed the tour. "Every single show, there would be some kids we would win over," he said. "Invariably, there would be a rock critic standing right in front of the stage with his notepad. I was just fascinated by it all, watching the rats scurry off the sinking ship."

Perhaps that was the case, but you can almost bet the farm, that the Lolla will be back in all its glory next year, ready to convert a new legion of alterna-kids, and you can guarantee Old 97's will be nowhere near it. [Mon., Sept. 8, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]