With less than two months to go before the start of the summer concert tour-season, it appears that the old guard of package tours, Lollapalooza, is struggling to find its legs.
Not only have Garbage, Green Day, Foo Fighters and Marilyn Manson all reportedly turned down a headlining slot, but Jane's Addiction -- the band that helped found the annual summer music festival -- is apparently not as interested as organizers had expected.
"I had no intention of going on a huge, monstrous, several week rock tour," said Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro on Tuesday.
Navarro -- who had told SonicNet Music News in December that there was "no way" he would rejoin the reunited Jane's for a multi-week summer slot on the tour -- was reacting to last week's Billboard magazine story, in which Lollapalooza co-owner Ted Gardner said that the granddaddy of alternative summer package-tours might not happen this year due to a final-hour decision by Jane's leader and festival co-founder Perry Farrell to opt out of headlining with his recently reunited Jane's.
In the article, Gardner is quoted as saying that at the end of February, "[Farrell] informed us that Jane's Addiction wouldn't be an entity this summer." Gardner then says that the festival waited until that time to start asking other headliners to participate, which put the booking process three or four months behind.
Prior to this cancellation, Garbage, Green Day, Foo Fighters and Marilyn Manson had turned down the headlining slot, claiming they had other obligations, according to Gardner's comments in Billboard.
Navarro said he never specifically told Lollapalooza organizers that he wouldn't participate in a second Jane's reunion tour, but added that he made it clear to his bandmates in both the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction that "[after the Jane's fall of 1997 reunion tour], I decided I was no longer willing to go on a tour of that magnitude, but would maybe go on shorter legs."
Gardner, who told Billboard that there was still a "60-40" chance of the eighth annual tour happening this year, said, "We got ourselves in this situation by being told someone is going to tour, and when that didn't occur, that put us a little backward." However, a source close to Jane's Addiction said Tuesday that Farrell had met with tour-booker Peter Grosslight of the William Morris Agency in January and told Grosslight that the band would not be able to do Lollapalooza.
"They were very open about Jane's getting together and doing [the Jane's reunion tour], and they made it very clear that they knew their options were open and anything could happen and anything could not happen as well," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "To say that Perry intended to do Lollapalooza is not accurate." Neither Grosslight nor Gardner could be reached for comment for this story.
According to the Billboard story, because of the lack of a headliner, organizers have pushed back the routing of the tour by four weeks, from a mid-June start to a mid-July kick-off.
Lollapalooza -- which had a middling year last season with a rotating headliner slot that featured the Orb, Orbital and Prodigy, as well as Tool, Julian and Damian Marley and Snoop Doggy Dogg on the main stage -- has faced increasing competition in the package-tour market from such upstarts as last summer's break-out, all-women Lilith Fair, as well as from the Ozzy Osbourne-launched Ozzfest and the H.O.R.D.E. (Horizons of Rock Developing Everywhere) tour. Joining the fray this year is the Korn-headlined "Family Values" hard-rock tour.
Gary Bongiovanni, editor of concert industry trade magazine Pollstar, said it might not be a bad idea for Lollapalooza to take a summer off if they can't find the right talent. "They're not dead in the water yet," he said. "But there are lots of other tours that are already lined up, and they might look around and decide to take a year off. I don't think it would hurt their credibility to do that, rather than put on a show with lesser acts."
"Perry's not responsible for the fact that there aren't any large alternative names around anymore," Navarro said, defending the decision to not do the tour. "Why isn't Green Day just as responsible, or [Marilyn] Manson? Lots of other bands decided not to do it, also, and it seems selective to pin-point one particular band for not doing the tour if there are other bands that said no."
One of the festival's founders, Marc Geiger of the ArtistDirect booking agency, confirmed Tuesday that the Foo Fighters and several unnamed "others" whom he represents had turned down offers to play Lollapalooza. "There are several of our artists who are interested in Lollapalooza and think it's a good career move," said Geiger, who is no longer actively involved with the festival, "and there are others who weren't interested."
A spokesperson for Green Day's label, Reprise Records, said the band was approached, but declined and is mounting their own summer tour.
Wes Borland, guitarist for metal punks Limp Bizkit -- who will be
participating in both the Ozzfest and the Family Values tours --
said he wasn't surprised to hear that Lollapalooza was struggling.
"I mean, how many years can you do the same thing, repeat the same
thing over?" Borland said. "I remember going to the 1992 Lollapalooza
and I was, like, 17 or 18, and I was, like, blown away.
Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, Ice Cube ... the Red Hot Chili Peppers
were incredible. Lush and Ministry was amazing. Then I went to '93
and you had Tool and Rage Against The Machine and every band I was into was on there and the next year every band I was into was on it. And then the next year, I went 'Huh? Beastie Boys, P-Funk, I don't care about seeing anyone else.'
"They started reaching into the alternative pop where people went 'Why don't we write catchier songs and dress the same way?'" he said.