Evidently, indie rock royalty Morrissey, Sonic Youth, and the Pixies, in tandem with protégés PJ Harvey, Wilco, the Flaming Lips, and many others, are not enough to sell out America’s amphitheaters, as Lollapalooza co-founders Marc Geiger and Perry Farrell were forced to cancel all of 2004’s 31 dates. Fans expressed serious disappointment over missing one of the first truly alternative lineups in years (2003’s top acts: Jane’s Addiction, Audioslave, and Incubus). Last year’s model brought in over $13 million, and while this year’s total has yet to be disclosed, ticket sales were poor across the board.
The rest of America may deny that NYC and California are the national hubs of civilization (or is Middle America over indie rock, for better or worse?), but location proved to have an influence. Southern California’s Coachella fest in May sold out both days (granted it wasn’t a tour and featured many more bands than Lollapalooza). And the only place where numbers were in the black for Perry Farrell and company was Randalls Island, New York.
In spite of Lollapalooza’s “reduced” ticket prices (in New York $50 for one day, $90 for both), concert organizers need to realize that while hate-metal bands and acts heavy on Clear Channel’s nationwide rotation may fill venues, indie rock has always been esoteric. And the initiated, while eager to see great bands, are not willing to dump $100-plus in one night after you factor in the overpriced Italian sausage rolls, bottles of water, and beer. (Not to mention the vile Port-a-potties one has to endure after drinking aforementioned beer only to subsequently lose one’s prime spot won after hours of waiting in the sun.) Add to these injustices the inconvenience of 20 out of 31 dates landing on school nights.
While Lollapalooza’s website promises a full refund, Ticketmaster’s policy is to refund the ticket’s face value and per-ticket charges (for the facility and convenience), but not per-order charges such as shipping and order processing. A brief “investigation” (e-mailing of friends and a visit to the Flaming Lips message board) reveals that Ticketmaster charged $4 to process each order. While the number of tickets sold through Ticketmaster is unknown, one can presume the company will come out ahead.
For most would-be Lollapalooza bands, Randalls Island was to be the only summer pit stop in New York. Many are now scrambling to schedule an appearance. People in and around Chicago can shell out $55 (not including service fees) to see Moz at the House of Blues on July 17. The Big Mouth Who Struck Again has more dates forthcoming, but whether or not any of them will be in NYC (where he had five triumphant shows at the Apollo in May) remains to be seen.
Punk new wavers Le Tigre support alt-rock pioneers Sonic Youth on a tour that hits Oregon (July 15), Arizona (July 21), Nevada (July 23), Utah (July 25), Minnesota (July 28), Wisconsin (July 30), Missouri (July 31), Connecticut (August 13), and Maine (August 15). PJ Harvey will tour America in the fall. Modest Mouse plan on hitting New York in August but before then will visit Chico, California (July 16); Phoenix, Arizona (July 23); Bloomington, Indiana (August 19); Portsmouth, Virginia (August 19); and Austin, Texas (September 17 & 18).
The Pixies, who are finally getting their due, will be all over the place from September through December. Their NYC shows haven’t been confirmed, but Frank Black Francis (as he’ll refer to himself on a new solo album), Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, and Dave Lovering will be here, hopefully, for at least four dates, as at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom.
Wilco, whose latest, A Ghost Is Born, is touted as even better than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, will be in Rhode Island on August 8 for the Newport Folk Festival. The jam band String Cheese Incident, who were going to play Jane’s Addiction songs with Perry Farrell for their Colorado Lollapalooza date, continue their perpetual tour this summer. There’s no NYC date yet, but they will hit California (July 16), Nevada (July 24 & 25), and North Carolina (August 21) with fellow might-have-beens Sound Tribe Sector Nine; with Michael Franti & Spearhead in Pittsburgh, PA (August 12); and with Gomez and the Polyphonic Spree in Houston, Texas (August 24).
The Flaming Lips have nothing else scheduled for the summer. Jesus and Mary Chain–gangers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club tour parts of the U.S. this summer before heading to Philly to start on a new album. Broken Social Scene have yet to decide their plans. NYC new wave noisemakers TV on the Radio are looking to open for a few of the Lollapalooza bands but for now have at least one date in New York this summer, the Voice‘s Siren festival (July 17). They’ll also co-headline with lesser birds of a feather the Faint on a national tour in October. For other bands, check their websites. Since the price of one of these concerts will equal a day pass to Lollapalooza, choose wisely.