Weirdest Lollapalooza Acts of All Time
Since its beginnings in 1991, Lollapalooza has ranked among the best-curated live music festivals in the world. Creator — and Jane’s Addiction singer — Perry Ferrell has been behind some of modern music’s most interesting shifts, and back in the day, he did everything from booking Pavement and Sonic Youth to delivering amazing hip-hop showcases to the masses. His traveling tour (which eventually landed itself in Chicago) gave indie rock and rap groups a voice across a divided North America. And yet despite Farrell’s best intentions, strange acts sometimes slip through the cracks and perform at the festival. We dug through the archives to find Lollapalooza’s 5 Weirdest Acts of All Time.
Jim Rose Circus (1992)
The ’90s were weird, man. Live variety shows were all the rage back then — the Jim Rose Circus being a good example. Rose, a Seattle native, put together this troupe of freaks, which makes the ‘Jackass’ crew look pretty weak and Ripley’s cast of oddballs seem tame. The show featured performers like the Amazing Mister Lifto, who would hang heavy weights from several carefully placed body piercings, and Zamora the Torture King, who specialized in eating lightbulbs and skewering his own face. Fun times!
By 1993, hair metal had all but died out, with grunge and hardcore taking its teased and moussed place of power amongst the youths. So why on earth was this band hired to play Lollapalooza? Orlando’s Genitorturers proclaim to be “the world’s sexiest rock band.” We beg to differ. They air more on the industrial metal side, but still, can you imagine being subjected to this in between sets by Girls Against Boys and Thurston Moore?
Incredibly Strange Wrestling (1995)
Wrestling and Lollapalooza went together like a greasy pizza and a fine chianti back in 1995. Incredibly Strange Wrestling, the brain child of San Francisco promoters Johnny Legend and August Rogone, was a celebration of lucha libre Mexican wrestling — coupled with thrash and punk bands. In fact, rockers like Mike Watt and NOFX played shows with the traveling grapple-fest. Its addition to Lollapalooza’s lineup was short-lived, but videos of the misguided event are plentiful on YouTube.
Billy Idol (2005)
Billy Idol has not aged a damn day since he released his smash hit ‘Rebel Yell’ back in 1983. So you can understand why that might have caused some confusion when the British blonde beefcake hit the stage at the Chicago festival in 2005. Though he had a marginally successful new album that same year, Idol had largely been missing from popular culture (at least since 1998’s ‘Wedding Singer’ cameo). Despite his odd time slot between Dashboard Confessional and the Pixies, fans still came out in droves to fist pump alongside this infamous rocker.
Poi Dog Pondering (2006)
This is a mind-boggling one. Pan flutes abounding, Poi Dog Pondering found themselves as one of the most out-of-place bands at Lollapalooza 2006. The band, experts of early-’90s cheese-folk, were wedged between the Frames and Andrew Bird. Somehow, this Chicago act managed to sneak its way onto the stage at a time when 10-piece pop acts had long since faded from fashion.