Back before there was a festival for every city, a booking agent for every band, and a service charge for every ticket, live music was a little less… predictable. Remember the good old days?
We all know the monster that it became, but Perry Farrell’s Lollapalooza festival was at one point, pretty cool! So influential in fact, that it inspired an entire industry to effectively dismantle it. Or maybe we’re just getting old…
One thing is for certain, however, if the Lollapalooza tour had not begun in 1991, then there certainly would have been no Rollercoaster Tour. Spread across eleven dates throughout the United Kingdom in 1992, the tour was the product of a buzz surrounding the newfound Lolla. With FOUR rotating co-headliners playing full, 45-minute sets each night, the Rollercoaster Tour intended to “give the recession-bitten public value for money with four bands for the price of one.” And that’s exactly what they achieved by assembling some of the most celebrated alternative rock bands at the time (and of all time): the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr, and Blur.
Similar to Farrell’s involvement with ‘Palooza, the Rollercoaster Tour was dreamt up by members of the Jesus and Mary Chain. The Scottish noise-pop group was supporting their record Honey’s Dead, but decided it would be better for the fan if they were to split the bill with three other like-minded bands. Dinosaur Jr, the only Americans on the lineup, had been around for a number of years by this point, their classic record Bug had been released in 1987. Shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine were at their peak in 1992 - their seminal distortion record Loveless had come out just a year prior. Also, this would be the last time MBV would play the UK until their 2008 reunion tour. The greatest outlier of them all was the youngest and most energetic of the bunch, Blur. With just a debut record under their belt, the English band was just moments away from taking rest of the world by storm with the colossal explosion of [the dreaded] Britpop. Woo-hoo!
Ticket Stub from the Rollercoaster Tour, London
Jim Reid, singer of the Jesus and Mary Chain spoke about the Rollercoaster Tour in the April 2013 issue of ‘MOJO’:
That year, everyone was talking about [Perry Farrell’s touring alt-rock package fest] Lollapalooza, which to us was pretty crap. We did it, playing at 2pm after Pearl Jam, and it was fairly disastrous. So we thought, Why not do a good version of it? We were just trying to shake things up, to make it not like a bunch of boring blokes standing around with pints of beer. We were sick to death of plodding up and down the UK on our own, playing the same shitholes. The venues we playing on Rollercoaster, like Whitley Bay Ice Rink and Glasgow SECC, we could never have done on our own. Instead of a fucking cold Friday night in Nottingham Rock City, it felt a bit more like being a rock star - more a Bowie/Bolan thing. The idea was to have bands from different corners of the indie scene. It was pre-Britpop, so Blur were there to cover the Manchester/baggy thing, the grunge thing was covered by Dinosaur Jr., and then it was the Valentines doing freak-out noise, and we were doing something similar, but more poppy.
More after the jump…