10 Unforgettable Moments in Lollapalooza History
Lollapalooza provided the setting for music history more than once.
Lollapalooza has changed quite a bit since its inception in 1991, when Jane's Addiction called on a number of the most popular alt bands to accompany them on a splashy farewell tour across the country. Once a touring festival, the event now takes place over three sweaty days in Chicago, with sister festivals in Chile, Brazil, and Argentina, and includes acts across a wide variety of genres — including many of the world's top pop and hip-hop stars.
Lolla has provided a breeding ground for some of the most memorable events in music history in the past two decades, too. In honor of this year's event, revisit a few of the most polarizing moments below.
1. Body Count Makes Headlines With "Cop Killer"
Before he was scowling night after night on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Ice-T was rapping about wanting to kill cops. The first time he did so live happened to be on the 1991 Lollapalooza tour... and it caused a national controversy. Soundgarden covered the song at the festival the following year.
2. Courtney Love Sings in Kurt's Memory
Nirvana was at one point scheduled to play Lollapalooza in 1994, but the band pulled out amidst breakup rumors a few months beforehand. Kurt Cobain committed suicide that April, and Courtney Love made an appearance during the Smashing Pumpkins' headline set in Philadelphia, changing a lyric in her hit "Miss World" to reflect on her husband's death: "Why'd you have to die?"
3. A Bunch of Famous Alt Dudes Drink Bile
If you thought Lady Gaga's puke stunt was punk rock, then you've probably never heard about the 1992 "bile beer" incident. Eddie Vedder, Ministry's Al Jourgenson, and Chris Cornell all imbibed the contents of Matt the Tube's stomach. Watch at your own risk.
4. Nine Inch Nails Destroy the Stage
Sometimes Trent Reznor gets as angry as his music sounds. In 1991, the Nine Inch Nails frontman concluded a performance of his song "Pretty Hate Machine" by destroying his band's instruments and storming off the stage. Apparently he was pissed about the heat and equipment failure, and only managed to get through 2.5 songs.
5. A Pavement Dude Bares His Butt
Pavement is sometimes credited with "killing" Lollapalooza in 1995 when, after being pelted with mud during a set in West Virginia, the band left the stage early — but not before Scott Kannberg bent over and showed the audience exactly what he thought of them. Check it out in the video below at 2:50.
6. Courtney Love Punches Kathleen Hanna
It's unclear what, exactly, prompted Hole frontwoman Courtney Love to "sucker punch" Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna backstage at a Lollapalooza stop in George, Washington in 1995. But the incident helped to cement Love's reputation as the one of the most unstable figures in rock and roll. She also reportedly called rappers Cypress Hill "pothead p***ies."
7. Rage Against the Machine Goes Naked
In 1993, when the "Parental Advisory" sticker on CDs was a new thing, Rage Against the Machine took to the stage in Philadelphia completely naked, mouths taped up in protest, with the letters "P," "M," "R," and "C" written on their respective chests (Parents Music Resource Center, everybody!). They stood there as the crowd jeered for several minutes.
8. Kanye West Rules Chi-town
Kanye West was on the bill for the 2006 Lollapalooza festival, but it wasn't until 2008 that he finally had the hometown welcome he deserved. Check out his visually stunning rendition of "Flashing Lights" below.
9. Them Crooked Vultures Steal the Spotlight
Lollapalooza 2009 hit a somber note when headliners Beastie Boys were forced to pull out of the festival due to Adam Yauch's ongoing struggle with cancer. Yeah Yeah Yeahs were a fitting replacement, but the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures (Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, and John Paul Jones) ended up stealing the spotlight at a Lolla aftershow on the last evening of the festival. It was, in a word, epic.
10. Lady Gaga Goes Punk
Three years after performing on one of the small stages with her longtime pal Lady Starlight, Lady Gaga became a headline performer at Lolla in 2010. Perhaps even more memorable than her mainstage performance was the nearly naked stage dive she took during Semi Precious Weapons' set. Intense!