SAN FRANCISCO 8:56 p.m.: Painted faces and bodies. Men in
rainbow-colored outfits, walking around in plastic garbage bags. Women in
transparent tops with horns sprouting from their heads. Men with purple
bouffants, dressed as go-go dancers.
Even before the doors of San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic
Auditorium open Saturday night for the only 1997 staging of Jane's Addiction
It's hard to tell the performers from the fans. A guy in a buckskin bikini
and full red and blue yin-yang body paint adjusts his waist-length wig. Next
to him a fan in six-inch platform gym shoes and a spangled kimono wraps a red
ribbon around her right thigh, joining a group ritual it seems only the other
four members of her clan understand.
9:06: A blinding orange light greets you as you walk in the doors. The
muffled sound of the Funky Tekno Tribe DJs leaks out of the main auditorium
where thousands will soon gather to dance, mosh, mix it up and drink in the
sounds of the Funky Tekno Tribe and Goldie, and a performance by ENIT organizer Perry Farrell and his
relapsed rockers Jane's Addiction.
9:38: The first naked nymphs of the night. A poetry reading in the
Raktavasa room with four scantily clad dancers and a fifth pregnant sylph in
a bikini, all laying on a white table. Greek columns. A screening of Julz
Chavez's black and white art film "Passion" flickers behind a pair of topless
dancers. Elvis as a horned devil looks on off a poster. Flashback to Lollapalooza.
9:48: On the other side of the hall, what appear to be a dozen couples
sprawled out on low platforms covered with big, ornate pillows, propped up
under two huge screens flashing ambiguous images. Digital movies in the
ResFest room. The techno beats accompanying the movie perfectly clash with
those now pouring through the doorways of the main room. Visitors move
shoulder to shoulder up and down the hallways, the stairways, in and out of
rooms, looking, touching, staying and leaving again.
10:00: While the psychedelic "Further" bus draws attention on the
sidewalk outside, in a large back room on the fourth floor Ken Kesey and the
Merry Pranksters, who raised hell in the '60s, have covered the walls in their basketball court-sized room
with drawing paper. The curious paint the material and each other with
Day-Glo colors. The walls, faces and arms burn brightly in orange and green
under the black light.
10:09: Jane's drummer Stephen Perkins sits in on drums in the Jam
Room, located on the eastern wing of the fourth floor. Congas, two drum sets,
maracas, bongos, cowbells, all set up in a circle. Visitors take turns
pounding away, syncopating. The beats reverberate around the room, each
drummer finding the groove and fighting to stay a part of it.
10:15: The Beach Room, next door, where beats are replaced by beach
balls and body heat. The balls fly chaotically around the room like a beach
party gone berserk. Overexcited boys pummeling each other for no apparent
reason. Sounds of the ocean. The pounding intense hearts, beats crashing,
deep and resounding, across the hallway.
10:17: Massages, fingernail painting, aerosol eye makeup application,
a cornucopia of fresh grapes and exotic fruit piled on long tables in the
Genie Room. It's become more and more obvious that Perry wants fans to join
in the techno-shaman-hippie-trippy scene, rather than sit back, content to be
the typical rock voyeurs.
10:26: Yasir, an exotic world music combo, jam a tribal raga in the Raktavasa room.
Pixelated images of dancers and liquid light effects are projected onto the wall.
10:35: On the main stage, Goldie rocks with ominous Gregorian jungle
and a gold-tooth snarl. From the back of the auditorium, it shimmers across
the dance floor, flickering like a star. Diva Diane Charlemange peels the
paint during an epic "Timeless." Goldie shows off an uncharacteristic
punk/hip-hop vocal style during the new song "Temper, Temper." He keeps
kissing the guy playing bass.
11:24: DJ Polywog is mixing a techno jam and Led Zeppelin's metal
classic "Whole Lotta Love," creating a wonderfully noisy hybrid, a musical
mutation that seems somehow appropriate on this night , touching, it seems,
at the core of this coming together. For the first time perhaps, the room
begins to vibrate. But those recycled Lollapalooza '91 fractal images on the
big screens flanking the stage seem out of place, home movies from a
11:45: Kesey and company take the main stage dressed in their Hefty
garbage bags to act out a psychedelic Greek chorus incantation. They recite
bad, often unintelligible hippie-mantra poetry over stock Kennedy and Vietnam
images. They are a bad cliche. Weird, then creepy, then just annoying and
pointless. They peel off their garbage bag jackets to reveal Day-Dlo
jumpsuits. Colorful but no consolation.
12:04: Polywog mixes "Freebird" and electronic breakbeats. The lights
dim and then flick off. There is a swelling on the dance floor. Something is
about to happen.
12:09: A woman's voice echoes in Spanish from somewhere off stage. An
introduction. Jane's is here. Where? His lanky body swaying as he struts,
Farrell slinks onto the stage, then shouting his echoed squeal for "Ocean
Size." He's dressed in a purple tunic and feathered headdress with glittering
mask. Flea is wearing a red sarong. Guitarist Dave Navarro is in a black
miniskirt and white boa housecoat. Perkins wears his customary long skirt.
Their backdrop is a scaffolding decorated with large fantastical cutouts of
pink flower bulbs and plants like something out of a children's fairy tale.
12:26: The tide is high. From above, the crowd is an ocean rolling
toward the stage. Bodies surfing. Tossed around like driftwood. "That's the
greatest guitarist and bassist in the world!" screams a woman floating on a
wave. Sweat flows. Bodies press, swaying, pushing, moving. Not necessarily to
the music. "Stop."
Farrell, now stripped down to a purple vinyl skirt and matching mini-vest,
chugs wine, spins around and crashes to the floor. Navarro eases the fall by
giving him a long French kiss. "Three Days" seems to last as long, with an
epic jam that brings on the first in a parade of exotic dancers, placed
strategically on risers set up around the auditorium. Farrell gets down on
his belly with the two bikinied dancers and shakes his ass in the air. There
is a dangerously powerful undertow.
12:45: "Mountain Song" inspires Farrell to kick his heels up like the
Vegas showman/shaman he is. The band seems to be playing not just for the
audience but for the cameras. "They" are filming the show, which, regardless,
pushes Jane's to new heights. As if absorbing the energy, the enigmatic
arena, the band takes on a surreal force. Every song is an epic drama, full
of ebbs, flows, fantasy guitar solos, rolling bass lines that build momentum
as Farrell raps about the "four ways to ask for love."
12:59: The band, surrounded by security, move to the small satellite
stage in the middle of the auditorium for a wildly received "Jane Says." It's
classic Jane's. Farrell babbles about "them" being here. And everyone seems
to know what he means. That is, until he launches into "Happy Days Are Here
Again." A cappella.
1:23: "Nothing's Shocking" centrifuge jam, picking up steam and
intensity to near anarchy. Three things Farrell obviously likes to see:
strippers, participation and lots of people waving big flags with mysterious
geometrical figures on them.
1:47: The lights flash on. Navarro shimmies up a metal pole on-stage,
like the strippers before him. He waves good-bye, a teenager daring to be
cool. The crowd stands mesmerized, the energy still circulating until the
bodies begin to pull away, moving through separate doors as if dismissed from
2:27 Beyond Race pack the Raktavasa room with the sound of their world
music jamming on didgeridoo, violin, percussion, cello and throat singing.
"One of the better-funded, nicer raves I've been to," says Carrie Marshall,
23, over the drum circle on the floor competing with Beyond Race. A thousand
or more still dancing to the Tekno Tribe's pounding beats and lights. The
3:03: A security guard with blue hair and tongue ring shows off the
bandage on her arm. "I never got bit at Lollapalooza, I'll tell you that
much," she says. The drums keep beating, Kesey and company ramble on about acid, family
and other tangents over acoustic guitar and treated vocals.
3:49: Everyone in the Genie Room is giving massages to each other,
while the Anteroom, with its cheesy Greek fountain and disco lights, has
turned into the coolest room around thanks to warm, fairly quiet techno being
spun in a corner. Cashed-out fans are crashed-out on the ground on all
four floors, like the scene after a midnight flight cancellation at a punk airport.
4:40: Dry ice makes the warming beats in the Genie room even cooler,
literally. A funky dread is pounding out an echoing, metallic beat on a
railing with a silver ring in time with the music from the Genie room and
main floor. His two friends gather around and bob their heads.
5:08: All at once the drum jam breaks up. At 18, Azine, who should not
be here now because of her age (no one under 21 past 2 a.m.) , is glowing
after two hours of beating skins. As far she's concerned this is where she
belongs. "It was awesome," she says, smiling blissfully
under a face of glitter. "The whole night felt like a dream."
5:41: Dreamy, sleeping revelers with paint-smeared faces and bleary
eyes gather their gear as warm rain brings on a new day.
As they step outside, the freaks are again transformed. [Mon., Nov. 24, 1997, 9 a.m. PDT]