Maybe it was his experience on last year's struggling Lollapalooza tour or his deep love of arena rock, but Korn singer Jonathan Davis and his band have decided it's time to give a boost to the ever-expanding roster of summer festival tours.
Having had enough of the annual summer-long tours he has played in or experienced in the past, Davis said the group is organizing one of its own: the new "Family Values" arena tour. "We've wanted to do this tour for two years," Davis said. "Because, with the exception of Ozzy [Osbourne's 'Ozzfest'], it seemed like all the other festivals sucked. Us (sic) and Tool were the only cool bands on Lollapalooza last year."
Aggro thrashers Korn will take a number of like-minded hard-rocking acts such as Limp Bizkit on the road for the "Family Values" arena tour, which will compete with the already-crowded summer package tours, including several well-established festivals: Lollapalooza, H.O.R.D.E. (Horizons of Rock Developing Everywhere), Warped and last summer's surprise shed-packers, hard-rock Ozzfest and the popular all-women rock-fest Lilith Fair. Korn dropped out of last summer's Lollapalooza after completing 14 of 33 scheduled dates after guitarist James "Munky" Schaffer was reported to be ill.
Despite the competition, Davis predicted "Family Values," whose name was chosen for its ironic appeal, would win over fans for several reasons: "It's indoors during the summertime, with air conditioning, for one. And this isn't the heavy-metal shit that got everybody in the trailer park out in full force for the Ozzfest. This is a new kind of heaviness."
"Family Values" will feature two stages, with the possibility of sideshow attractions to keep the audience interested between acts, tickets averaging $20 and a promise of no skate ramps, no villages and no jewelry booths. "There might be some piercing going on," said Korn's manager Jeff Kwatinetz, co-producer of the new "Family Values" tour, "but it won't be our doing."
"We're not really worried about all the competition," Kwatinetz said. "Because nothing out there really competes with us." Kwatinetz said the inaugural version of the tour -- which will feature Korn, Limp Bizkit, Orgy (the first band signed to Korn's new label, Elementary Records) and several other hard-rock alternative acts -- is organized under the principle of "bringing rock back to the arenas."
Last summer's biggest draw and most widely acclaimed tour, Sarah McLachlan's all-women Lilith festival -- which held a '98-preview performance in Palm Beach, Fla., last December -- has not yet announced the full lineup for this summer's fest, but the initial date's booking is promising.
Already onboard for the opening date (June 19) at Portland, Ore.'s Portland Meadows are McLachlan, former 10,000 Maniacs singer Natalie Merchant, folk-rockers the Indigo Girls, R&B high priestess Erykah Badu and Irish songstress Sinead O'Connor, with Tara MacLean and K's Choice on the second stage. More acts will be announced shortly.
The Vans-sponsored Warped skate/punk tour is slated, so far, to feature headliners Rancid, Bad Religion, NOFX and Germany's Die Toten Hosen. Although rumors have circulated for months that a reunited X might also be joining that bill, that has not been confirmed. "They've definitely talked to them about doing a few dates of Warped," said Mike Rouse, road manager for X's two February reunion dates. "But nothing has been decided yet." The tour, which this year branched out for first-ever dates in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Hawaii, is slated to bring its punk and extreme-sports mix to Europe following this summer's tour.
After a somewhat disappointing go last summer due to an unfocused lineup topped by rock legend Neil Young, H.O.R.D.E. founders Blues Traveler will return to the festival's top spot along with blues-rocker Ben Harper and Canada's Barenaked Ladies, who will also be along for the whole tour.
"We're going to try and get back to having some continuity for the whole tour on the main stage," tour director Heidi Kelso said. "Although we were thrilled to have artists like Beck along for a string of dates, we like having the bands out for the whole time if we can. It's nice to let the bands and crews spend enough time together so that they get to know each other." With more acts to be announced shortly, Kelso said H.O.R.D.E. will kick off around July 10 and play approximately 30 dates through Labor Day weekend.
Also returning is the Furthur Fest, organized by former members of the now-defunct Grateful Dead. The promoter of the tour, John Scher, recently told the Dead's publicist, Dennis McNally, that the tour would look to re-emphasize its Grateful Dead roots, McNally said. Already confirmed for the tour are former Dead members Bob Weir and Mickey Hart and the band's on-again, off-again touring partner, pianoman Bruce Hornsby.
Meanwhile, the third annual Tibetan Freedom Concert is set to take place in Washington, D.C., at an unconfirmed venue on June 13 and 14. Pioneering punk-rappers the Beastie Boys, whose founding member Adam Yauch has organized this massive consciousness-raising event since the first show in San Francisco in 1996, are scheduled to be playing again.
No information on the Ozzfest or the granddaddy of summer tours, Lollapalooza, was available at press time.
Also joining the fray this season is country superstar George Strait, who will headline the inaugural George Strait Chevy Truck Country Music Festival. The 18-date stadium tour will have two stages, with the main stage featuring Tim McGraw, John Michael Montgomery, Faith Hill, Lee Ann Womack, Lila McCann and Asleep at the Wheel. There also will be a second stage with up-and-coming country talent, and a vending area called "Straitland" will be set up at each stop. [Wed., Feb. 4, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]