Saturday, on a sunny afternoon in Grant Park, Lollapalooza celebrated 25 years with performances by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction with guest appearances by Prophets of Rage guitarist Tom Morello and Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin…
In a sly nod toward Lollapalooza’s history, it was Jane’s Addiction, featuring festival founder Perry Farrell, that would grace the Samsung stage as almost a de facto opener for the Red Hot Chili Peppers who would headline that stage later in the evening.
What began in 1991 as a farewell tour for the great alternative innovators wasn’t supposed to happen again. Lollapalooza was basically meant as a farewell party for Jane’s Addiction who were breaking up. But when Farrell was offered the opportunity to tour it with Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1992, Jane’s Addiction postponed their breakup and rolled out Lollapalooza again.
And here we are 25 years later.
In its celebration of alternative music and culture, Lollapalooza would eventually influence everything from The Simpsons to Presidential elections (via its longtime association with Rock the Vote) as it traveled the country annually through 1997, and again in 2003, before arriving in Chicago for the first time as an annual destination festival in 2005 where it has continued each year since.
Perry Farrell remains an annual presence at the festival, often performing surprise solo sets with special guests on the Kidzapalooza stage, and Jane’s Addiction has performed several times since 2005. Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined in Chicago in 2008 and 2012, returning again in 2016.
Saturday afternoon, Jane’s welcomed a pair of guests to the stage to share in their celebration of Lollapalooza’s 25 years, both local Lollapalooza alums: Guitarist, Libertyville born Tom Morello of Prophets of Rage/Audioslave/Rage Against the Machine and Smashing Pumpkins drummer, Joliet native Jimmy Chamberlin.
Morello paired with Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro as the backbone on an absolutely thunderous rendition of “Mountain Song” while Chamberlin added extra percussion to a set closing performance of “Jane Says.”
Along the way, the band combined their biggest hits – “Stop” opened the show and “Been Caught Stealing” followed shortly thereafter – with choice deep cuts. Navarro in particular shined with bursts of sonic guitar on “No One’s Leaving” while the bass of Chris Chaney carried the intro to “Ted, Just Admit It…”
While the band does tune down a bit now in the live setting, Perry Farrell remains as animated as ever, a polarizing figure and one of rock’s finest on stage masters of ceremony. Flanked Saturday by two female backup dancers, wine and pyro, Ferrell’s ability to spin a tale in such a setting remains virtually unparalleled, a point his description of the drug and sex fueled binge that defines “Three Days” always hammers home.
Following two intimate aftershows earlier in the week at Metro, Lollapalooza at 25 wouldn’t have been the same without an appearance from Jane’s Addiction.
“What’s good, Chicago?” said Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis as the sun set upon the packed south end of Grant Park and what had to be one of the largest Lollapalooza crowds crowds to assemble in Hutchinson Field in the last five years.
Over the course of two hours Saturday, the Red Hot Chili Peppers tore through a two hour set powered by their greatest hits as well as tracks from their latest studio effort, the band’s eleventh, June’s The Getaway.
And what’s interesting about the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2016 is the clear line they’ve drawn in the sand between their recorded work prior to the Californication album in 1999 and everything after it.
As is usually the case now, Saturday’s show ignored their first four studio albums entirely and featured only three songs from any album prior to Californication – all of which came from their landmark 1991 effort Blood Sugar Sex Magik and encompassed, arguably, their two biggest hits. 1995’s One Hot Minute was also ignored.
So Saturday’s set focused almost entirely on their recent hits. And it’s incredible to think just how many of those there are. Because what remains pretty astounding about the Chili Peppers, compared to some of their 90s contemporaries, is the fact that they’ve never really gone out of vogue. Alternative radio continues to embrace their new material and, judging from the look and size of Saturday’s crowd, a new generation of fans continues to embrace them. They’re still relevant.
“Can’t Stop” led into “Dani California” and “Scar Tissues” to open the show while “Under the Bridge” and “By the Way” closed it before “Give it Away” wrapped up Saturday’s encore. The crowd took over the chorus of “Under the Bridge” in one of the week’s loudest sing-a-long moments.
But it was a pair of slightly deeper cuts that were most impressive. The title track from 1991’s “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” was a welcome surprise as was “Parallel Universe.” Josh Klinghoffer took over on guitar in 2011 and was particularly great Saturday on “Parallel Universe.”
The evening’s most poignant moment though came midway through Saturday’s set as the Chili Peppers paid homage to Jane’s Addiction and 25 years of Lollapalooza history by working in a snippet of the Jane’s Addiction deep cut “I Would For You” amidst a fiery Klinghoffer solo.
When you think about the importance of both Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers as band’s connecting Lollapalooza’s past to it’s present and the way their careers have been intertwined since their earliest days – don’t forget, Navarro worked as a member of the Chili Peppers for a spell as did Flea briefly with Jane’s Addiction – Saturday’s pairing on the Samsung stage in Lollapalooza’s 25th year was an appropriate one.
“Long live Lollapalooza!” said Kiedis.
– Jim Ryan (@RadioJimRyan)
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