You Am I's bassist and drummer keep a diary of their adventures
on the Lollapalooza '96 tour across America with bad food
and dubious beer.
By Andy Kent and Russell Hopkinson
Rusty's Journal - June 27
Arrive in Kansas City three days into an epic drive from
L.A. We have a rehearsal day to soundcheck and get stuff
in order. This is the only chance we'll have to fine tune
out thrilling stadium style and we're anxious to get everything
just right. Kansas City's gig is held in a large field with
loads of mud. The weather is hot and humid and I am reminded
of the Livid Festival with more American accents. We practice
our schtick and then proceed to be photographed for our
laminates, the footy is kicked about a bit and we meet other
bands. Exit stage right.
The next day is the big day. We officially the first band
of Lollapalooza '96 and we are interviewed by some MTV hack
about this prestigious honour. Our gig is cool and we make
the most of a 1.40pm start and blistering heat. The day
is spent sucking on recreational cigarettes and drinkin'
cold beer. Chat lots with the Cornershop lads, they're a
down-to-earth and mellow brigade and we hit it off. The
Ben Folds Five are a nice bunch too, but we don't meet anyone
else. It's a bit standoffish at present but I imagine barriers
will be broken as the tour winds through the American heartland.
Andy's Journal - Des Moines IO,
The gig feels pretty good. All the boys fairly happy/angry
with it all. That's what happens when you keep men in the
one place (moving or not) for days at a time. They stagger
out gnarly, mad. After the after show toast, Russ admits
that drumming is the most fun he could have. Except for
perhaps donning a Godzilla suit and stomping on a model
Run to catch the Screaming Trees. Mark Lanegan never ceases
to amaze me, even though he might keel over at any moment.
They've all been trying not to drink on this tour and offer
us their beer. Big mistake. So Tim marches over to take
up the offer, but succeeds only in unceremoniously booting
Van Conner off the wagon and into a three day Jagermeister
Rancid get the masses actually dancing. Side of stage, the
sarcastic Clash comments go around. But who gives a damn?
I'd rather see this than another reformation tour. Hold
on, I'd kill to see a Clash reformation tour. What am I
Also witness the real-life fighting monk guests of the main
stage, "The Shaolin Monks," clocking the Mortal
Kombat video machine. Quite surreal.
Andy's Journal - Pecatonica, IL.
We wake to the horror realisation that there has been heavy
rain overnight. Images of the Cosmic Psychos at BDO 1993,
Green Day at Woodstock and Rancid three days earlier flash
before our eyes. It all spells BROWN YOU AM I. Today, as
usual, the gig was situated in some field in the middle
of nowhere. This tour was booked with the aid of a dartboard.
Pecatonica is your average sleepy one-street town. Perhaps
a thousand residents grows forty-fold ina matter of hours.
We turn off the interstate and into town, The locals, who
I'd imagined rocking on porches (with maybe the odd banjo)
and riding mowers and peeping, horrified, through drawn
blinds. Kids are everywhere. It's like an episode of Star
Trek I'd seen where the kids take over the town and a landing
party was beamed down.
I realise we are the party, beamed down to woo them with
our alien sounds. To these mid-westerners, Australia may
as well be one of the Martian moons. Gliding down Main Street
following the scent of subsonic frequencies, this is one
of those occasions where there's enough people to overcome
a vehicle. We continue with Spock-like caution; the closer
we get the more chaotic it becomes. The Nest must be vast.
All around they laugh, air-guitar, kick the heads off gnomes
and drink blue slushys and coke till bubble rise from their
Inside the Nest, at the sanctuary of the second stage, we
find travellers from other worlds: Cornershop and Ruby from
the Britannia system, Ben Folds Five of the North Carolina
moon, Girls Against Boys of the powerful Manhattan Empire.
They are to become our allies, each using methods developed
on their own worlds. We volunteer first. Our mission: to
overcome using rock & roll Oz style. Rogers sails through
the sky, Hoppy mooning it up, A.K. kicking it out, Hitchcock
fingers in tops/fingers on keys. Beam us up Scotty. For
today our work is done.
Rusty's Journal - Columbus/Buckeye
Lake, OH. July 4
This really is THE STICKS, man. The sloping parkland is
pretty but the second and third stages are hidden deep in
the forest. Only the most observant of rock & roll fans
noticed the little shindig happening away from the frightening
Metalli-Hype of the main stage. Still, we do our job as
best we can, comfortable in the knowledge that "America's
biggest You Am I fan," Janet Conner (wife of our chum
Gary Lee), is dancin' away, singing all the words. Post
show we retreat to the sactity of the second stage tent,
chat with our new-found friends and slurp on Miller beer.
I watch Rancid kickin' up dust on the Main Stage, run into
Brodie from Sourpuss; she's over here hangin' with the rude
boys and having a good time.
The main arena crowd are straight from Metallica Central
and aren't up with anything else. Even the mighty Soundgarden
have an uphill battle with the cloth-eared proletariat in
these parts. I wander around the market; occasionally a
good local wreckord store will set up a tent but today it's
pretty much head shops and Kirby the Chimp. Kirby's been
with the tour since day one. You can get your photo taken
with him fo five bucks, and he seems well cared for, but
after a week of Lollapaloozas he's looking pretty frazzled.
The daily visit from Tim and our tour manager Larry "Fuckin"
Palm, with an array of fruit, cheers him up.
I catch a priceless snippit of conversation from two mullet-headed
gentlemen next to the Bud Lite tent:
Metallidude #1: "Who's the special
Metallidude #2: "Violent Femmes."
Metallidude #1: "Who's that?"
Metallidude #2: "I dunno."
This sums up a lot of where this year's
Lollapalooza misses the mark. A lot of people are here for
the headliner and pretty much unaware of anything else,
hence Psychotica doodle through appalling comedy goth-metal
on the main stage to thousands waiting for Metallica whilst
Cornershop's mesmerising mesh of trip hop and Indian folk
music goes virtually unnoticed. It's an injustice, man.
Rusty's Journal - Montreal/Quebec,
We arrive in Montreal from Toronto in the afternoon and
have enough time to check into the hotel and gaze longingly
at our beds before soundcheck. Tonight is our first club
show for a while (with Hayden and Girls Against Boys). It's
almost bizarre not playing in the early afternoon, but what
the fuck. We soundcheck and then head out to look around
for interesting shops. We find an oh-so-cool second-hand
clothing store and in the corner I discover a weird 16mm
film jukebox called Viewtron. I throw in a loony (a Canuck
one buck coin) and wait to see what happens. Nothing does,
so I go back to browsing through French-Canadian Goth cast-offs.
Minutes later the Viewtron's screen crackles to life and
an odd Serge Gainsbourg jingle, sung by a mid-'60s French
Kylie Minogue, bursts forth, all skewed camera angles of
flashing coloured portafloods and girls in Mondrian mini
dresses. It's a pre-disco Europop nightmare, horrifying
yet strangely compelling. I tear myself away from the powerful
grip of the Viewtron and return to the gig.
Hayden's plane is late so we get to play later and longer.
The show is cool. Everyone has a good time and the throng
warm to our mobile beat party quickly. Post show, Adam Young
(of Daisygrinders fame ) makes himself known and we spend
an evening chewin' the fat.
Early the next morning we stumble into the van and head
to Quebec. Drive straight to the gig and set up. We have
a great show and a large mob turn up to sample our wares.
Jams are kicked out and love energies exchanged with the
kids. Get up to the main stage and watch the Screaming Trees'
furious rock show. This band are worth their weight - all
of it - in gold; one blinder of a set after another.
A quick lunch at the excellent catering tent is followed
by a bout of Rancid's ramalama fa fa. These guys supply
all the high energy, jump-up-and-down music I need. With
horns and Hammond, Rancid take the stadium rock bull by
the horns and all those Clash comparisons are irrelevant
in the face of such rebel rock bloody-mindedness. If I were
16, Rancid would be the most important group in the world,
embodying a lot of what's great about P*** R*** (i.e. lots
of jumping up and down, lots of rabble-rousing choruses
and tunes maaan). The Ramones were the most important group
when I was 16 and their set of classics has a good quality
feel to it. I love the way CJ has metamorphosed into Dee
Dee. I love the beats and the words and tose awesome riffs.
It might sound corny, it might be cabaret, but shit, it's
the greatest rock & roll show ever.
Post gig we slide over to Old Quebec City for some nosh
and a look around. We poke around the olde world place with
loads of 17th century charm and take some snaps before retiring
to the sanctuary of out hotel. It's been a long two days
but thoroughly enjoyable. Lollaoalooza is nearly over and
we're heading towards a bout of club shows in fave towns
like NYC, Chicago ans Seattle. What a great job this is.
Andy's Journal - Pownal, VT. July
Cruise into Pownal, VT. We're so close to NYC we can smell
its stench. Then the van breaks down on the dege of town.
Quite typical for us, actually - the record over the years
stands at one broken bus, five broken cars/vans (two within
an inch of their lives). Memories of the "great Wablo
leg" of 1994 came flooding back. On this occasion we
are saved by the State Troopers we fear so much. These gentlemen
(thy're gentlemen now) raise locals from slumber and into
With this behind us and the gig gigged, we high tail it
for the Big Apple. The van drama and countless bad nights'
sleep have turned Larry into quite an unsavoury character.
Our "are we there yet, are we there yet"s are
not going down too well with old Larry.
You see, NYC is pure evil in Larry's book. He's been burnt
one too many times here. Unbeknownst to us he was about
to blow, and blow he did. For three whole days and three
whole nights. Over these days we learnt to use a car horn
as a weapon to raise New Yorkers' eyebrows (this is hard).
Even the bellboys, ever hungry for that tip, gave us a wide
Andy's Journal - Randall's Island,
NYC. July 10
Witness Shaolin monks warming up on 8th Ave in midst of
Manhattan madness. Very Koyaanisqatsi. Also witness presidential
convoy. Guns guns guns. My friend Guy tells me Pakistan
played the Windies at the cricket in this very stadium not
one year ago. After the gig we race downtown to play a show
with Perry "The pied piper" Farrell and Porno
for Pyros with Mike Watt on bass. They gave us one square
foot of stage each. Maybe Oasis can deal with this amount
of mobility but not us. We ruin the set in the best way
possible: trash their shit, kill as many as possible and
burn the Pyros alive.
Rusty's Journal - Charles Town,
WV. July 16
The last Lollapalooza gig. It was fun, really. Of course
it was an uphill battle at times; we don't really receive
much attention from the media here and in the States the
media is everything. We just go out and play. I love the
fact that it's a dud gig that will piss us all off. It doesn't
matter if it's in front of three or 3000, a shit gig is
the worst thing ever, because while you're here that's your
entire life. Everything else is secondary. Who gives a fuck
about "Olympic Bomb Tragedy" when your foldback
sounds crappy? We played our best show on this tour in front
of three Silverchair fans in Baltimore. It wuz a blast.
Anyway it's the last hurrah for the second stage groups.
We're off for a month on the road with Irish lovely lads
Therapy?, Cornershop, Ruby and GvsB are off home for some
downtime, and tose charming Ben Folds Five chappies are
destined for some Neil Young supports. Our show is groovy,
we realise it's the last time we have to do a 1.40pm rock
show for a while and we respond accordingly. My lovely Champagne
Sparkle Super Classic Ludwig drum kit goes over in a display
of unbridled rock enthusiasm and we leave the stage happy
in the knowledge that we stuck it up 'em. Frivolities continue
throughout the day. I avoid the food fight but meet John
Stabb from punk legends Government Issue. It's nice to know
that lots of cool people are playing in bands these days
- the second and third stages were so free of egos and rock
stardom it was frightening.
Andy's Journal - Atlanta, GA.
Today si the Olympic gig. We were asked to do this onlt
last week so we blew out Detroit and flew to Atlanta. It
sounded like a logistical nightmare at such short notice,
Olympics and all, but the whole thing runs smoothly. Way
too smoothly. At the end of the night we're dropped off
at our hotel. We look up and there, literally hanging over
the hotel car park, is the Olympic Stadium. There we stand
with 12 unchecked, bazooka-sized roadcases at our feet,
but maybe the idea of Aussie terrorists is too ridiculous.
Soundgarden tonight are fantastic. These guys can be very
powerful when they put their minds to it.
You Am I: silver. Soundgarden: gold.
Rusty's Journal - Atlanta,
GA/Chicago, IL. July 23
Morning in Atlanta, under the shade of the Olympic Stadium.
We meet Kostya Tszu, small talk ensues. He has no idea who
we are and I haven't seen enough boxing to be too knowledge
about his feats in the ring. Nice chap though. On arrival
at O'Hare Airport, Chicago, we discover three things.
1. Larry Palm has dyed his hair blue in response to his
solo 1000 mile drive from Boston to Chicago.
2. Larry has done some Net surfing and discovered the latest
footy scores. The Swans are having the beast season ever
(certainly South Melbourne didn't have too many like this)
and we're in a country that thinks you need a helmet to
3. Larry is the greatest tour manager on God's green earth.
We check into the Rock & Roll Days Inn on Diversy and
Clark and then head down to the Double Door for soundcheck
and a reunion with our good mates the Smoking Popes. Post
'check we hang out. I play pool against Wiseold (a rarity
for me), drink Stoli and dance to "Hybrid Moments"
by the Misfits. Everyone is happy to be here and our gig
reflects this. Tim is in fine form for a guy with a hernia,
and his sparkling wit and use of carefully placed swear
words endears him to the Chicago crowd. We call this kind
of gig an "away win" - radio doesn't play us and
we're not cool enough for the college rock crowd but we
don't give a fuck. Everything is distilled into that hour
when you're on stage blasting out th' toons. If we can make
an impression then our job is done.
The Smoking Popes do a killer show; they've been stuck in
the studio and this is their first chance to do the live
rock thang in a couple of months. All in all, tonight is
a landmark occasion. It's just another Tuesday night for
most, but fo us it's like that Real Kids' song, "Every
day is Saturday."