ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Hannah Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Scott Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Veronica An
   Zack Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Lawrence Berger
   Kevin Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Craig Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Jarvis Black
   Heitham Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Adam Levon Brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Tony Bush
   Zachary C. Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Dana Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Phil Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Merrill Cole
   Karen E. Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J. de Salvo
   J de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   t. joseph dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jessica Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   David Howard
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor Infante
   Victor D. Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Lois P. Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Tao Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Raud Kennedy
   Bernard Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Ashley King
   Robert S King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Thomas Krämer
   Gerard Kuc
   Donna Kuhn
   Christopher Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Marie Lecrivain
   Anne Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Emma Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Lee Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Anthony Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   David McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Robert John Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Nina Orlovskaya
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Luke Prater
   Kristena Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Rina Rose
   Emily Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
   Sonya Sabanac
   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
   John Saunders
   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
   Iftekhar Sayeed
   Frances Schiavina
   Kim Schroeder
   Carol Schwalberg
   Peter Schwartz
   Ken Scott
   Sondra L. Scott
   David Scriven
   Justin Scupine
   LB Sedlacek
   Lisa Segal
   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   John W Sexton
   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
   Tom Sheehan
   Jake Sheff
   Steve Shickman
   Nancy Shiffrin
   June Shiitake
   Ferrari Silverpowder
   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
   Apryl Skies
   Knute Skinner
   Sam Skow
   Ratpack Slim
   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
   Clinton Smith
   Danielle Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
   Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
   Richard Spuler
   Matina Stamatakis
   Jan Steckel
   Julia Stein
   Eric Steineger
   Carl Stillwell
   Bruce Stirling
   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Dee Sunshine
   Mani Suri
   John Duncan Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
   Jonathan Taylor
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Mark Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
   Evan Walsh
   Sharieff Walters
   John Wariner
   Deborah L Warner
   Christopher Watkins
   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
   Justin Weiler
   Viola Weinberg
   Florence Weinberger
   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Leigh White
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   J.T. Whitehead
   Claire Williams
   John Sibley Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Jessica Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Robert D. Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
   Joseph Wistren
   Wayne Wolfson
   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
   Abigail Wyatt
   John Yamrus
   Müesser Yeniay
   Julie Yi
   Gregory T. Young
   Britney Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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G. Murray Thomas
November 2015
   

 

Alternative vs Metal

    Kenny, the headwaiter at the restaurant where I worked, had a problem. The radio in the dishroom was too loud; it had been turned up far enough you could hear it out in the dining room. “This used to happen whenever Van Halen came on,” he commented. “Now it's Guns N' Roses.”
    Who, I wondered, are Guns N' Roses? I had just moved to SoCal from the music desert of Idaho, and was not up on the latest bands.
    Not too long after that, I caught a G N' R video. I think it was “Paradise City” but it might have been “Sweet Child O' Mine.” In any event, I watched it and thought, “I get it. They're Aerosmith!” Of course, by that I meant an imitation of an imitation of the Rolling Stones.
    This was the late 80s, and Guns N' Roses were king of the Rock Mountain. Or rather, they were king of one of the rock mountains. For there were two rock mountains in those days: Metal and Alternative. And they were very distinct peaks. They had different styles, different fan bases, even different radio stations. In Los Angeles, KLOS played classic rock and heavy metal, and KROQ played alternative. Except for the occasional U2 or Bowie song, there was no crossover between their playlists. They were two separate worlds, and each had a loyal fanbase who disdained those who listened to the other station.
    No surprise, I sat firmly in the alternative camp. I listened almost exclusively to 91X, the San Diego alternative station. Due to the geography of the coastline, San Diego stations came in much better than L.A. ones where I lived in south Orange County. But 91X played pretty much the same music as KROQ, although they could be a little more liberal, since they actually broadcast out of Mexico. Sure, I'd tune in KLOS on occasion, but my loyalty lay on the other side.
    Jane's Addiction were king of Alternative Mountain. (Both U2 and R.E.M., obvious contenders, had become too popular to be truly considered “alternative” anymore.) I first heard Jane's at a poetry workshop, where one of the other poets played “Pigs in Zen” as an example of poetic lyrics. But my real introduction came from a roommate who would play side 2 of their debut at top volume every day as he showered. Their versions of “Sympathy for the Devil” and Velvet Underground's “Rock and Roll” were drilled into my head.
    I must say, that was not the best way to be introduced to that album (or any album for that matter). Especially as that first album is pretty abrasive musically; although I do enjoy abrasive music (as you should know by now), hearing it every day emphasized the abrasiveness. But I had to respect a band which would play those two cover songs, especially back to back. Once I had a chance to listen to it on my own terms, I grew to really like the album.
    In the summer of 1991 I put the two bands, and, by proxy, the two musical camps, in a head to head competition. I saw them back to back, two concerts on two consecutive nights. In my own mind, I made it a contest for the future of rock music. Alternative or metal, which way was it going?
    It was purely coincidence that the two concerts happened on two consecutive days: the first Lollapalooza show on July 24 at Irvine Meadows, and Guns N' Roses on July 25 at Pacific Amphitheater. (It was also coincidence that they took place in the two top outdoor venues in O.C., which were similar in size and layout.) And it was purely my imagination that this was some sort of epic Battles of the Genres. But I couldn't escape the feeling that the future of rock music depended on (or at least could be foretold by) which band put on he better show.
    Despite my taste being firmly in the alternative camp, I expected it to be a close contest. I liked both bands equally. As I said, I grew to appreciate the first Jane's Addiction album. The same was true of Appetite for Destruction. I even liked G N' R Lies (where they actually covered Aerosmith), or most of it (I had no patience for “Patience”, which my roommate played incessantly -- the same roommate, by the way, which puts the lie to alt/metal division, but that's getting ahead of the story).
    Furthermore, I had seen what Guns N' Roses were capable of in concert. A couple of years earlier, they had scored the opening slot for the Rolling Stones' L.A. shows. My friends and I considered this a must see show, and managed to score tickets. In those pre-internet days, that meant standing in line outside a record store at dawn one morning to get wristbands, and then going back, again at dawn, the next day to actually get tickets. Something we accomplished only by bringing large cups of bloody marys.
    We caught the second show (out of either five or six, I forget which). The night before, Axl Rose had come out too wasted to perform (or so we heard). So this show was considered make or break for the band. Their biggest stage yet, and if they blew it two nights in a row, they were probably finished as a major act. They had a lot to prove.
    And prove it they did. Slash opened their set with a long statement about how many shows they saw at the Coliseum, and how honored they were to be playing there, and how they weren't going to blow it now. Then they ripped into “Mr. Brownstone” and never let up. They showed true rock' n' roll spirit by putting it all on the line, and then ruling it. It was an amazing show.
    At the time, I felt they had thrown down the gauntlet for the Stones: “Here, top this!” The Stones seemed to see it a little differently. They had nothing to prove, and proved it anyway by basically ignoring the challenge. They just came out and did what they did every night. They topped G 'n' R through pure professionalism. The G N' R set worked through the tension of “Can we pull this off?” and the thrill and release when they did. The Stones, by contrast, had a vibe of “This is what we do, and we do it very well. And we're going to have a good time doing it.”
    They simply put on a great show. They played a number of hits, a couple of cuts off their new album (Steel Wheels), and a few surprises (“Factory Girl” and “2000 Light Years from Home”). Eric Clapton came out and played “Little Red Rooster” with them. They loosened up and jammed on a number of songs. They almost erased the memory of Guns N' Roses by the time they were done.
    But not completely. G N' R had, if nothing else, proved they could put on a great rock 'n' roll show.
    So two years later, I looked forward to seeing them again almost as much as I anticipated seeing Jane's Addiction for the first time.
    Of course, Lollapalooza consisted of a lot more than just Jane's Addiction. The full line up was Rollins Band, Butthole Surfers, Ice-T and Body Count, Nine Inch Nails, Living Color and Siouxsie and the Banshees, plus Jane's. So let me say that, had the contest been which concert overall was better, it would have been no contest. There was no way Skid Row, opening for G N' R, could compete with even one of those bands, let alone all of them. But I decided to only judge the headliners.
    Still, that line-up provided a great afternoon of music. We missed Rollins Band; we had a full caravan going and, as would be expected, it took forever to organize everyone. At the time, I didn't know who Henry Rollins was (and to be honest, kept mixing it up with Rossington-Collins Band, an offshoot of Lynyrd Skynyrd, which definitely did not belong on this bill). It was only a couple of years later, when Rollins emerged as a spoken word artist, that I regretted missing him.
    Butthole Surfers, who I did care about seeing, put in a powerful set of punk rock, with some melodic and instrumental innovation, though they were not as wildly experimental as I had been led to believe. Ice-T played half his set as a rapper, and the other half, with his band Body Count, as a punk rocker. He really got the crowd going in both formats.
    I hate to admit it, but I went to get something to eat during Nine Inch Nails set. This was (I believe) their first major tour, and I had no idea how important they would become. I did get back in time to see Trent Reznor throwing hs synthesizer around the stage (to this day I have no idea if this was careful stagecraft, or if he was genuinely pissed about something).
    Living Color failed to impress me. I found their hits too funky-pretentious, and that's mostly what they played. They did get in some solid hard rock jams, and they covered Pere Ubu's “Final Solution,” which I loved (and moved them up a notch or two in my rankings). Siouxsie and the Banshees did a good job of playing their quirkiness live, but just didn't move me. They've always been one of those bands I enjoy when someone else puts them on, but have never chosen to listen to myself. As the first band to play after dark, they did have a good light show.
    Jane's Addiction rocked. Really tight rhythm section, with Dave Navarro's guitar going all directions on top of it. Perry Ferrel put on a real show out front, with nearly naked women simulating sex on stage, and a giant marionette imitating Ferrell's dance moves (no easy feat).
    So Guns N' Roses had a good challenge facing them the next night (even if they didn't know it). But they didn't even try. Don't get me wrong, they put on a great hard rock show. But there was no tension to it. Unlike when they opened for the Stones, they had nothing left to prove. They were on top of the (rock) world, and acted like it. Their show was programmed and predictable.
    Axl tried to make it feel unpredictable by ranting. He spouted off about the press, his ex-drummer, anything he could think of, but it all went nowhere. Similarly, they tried to create excitement through explosions and light shows, excitement which should have been inherent in the music.
    Jane's Addiction won the competition on almost every criteria I could name. First, their music was innovative, while G N' R's was imitative. Second, they put on a genuinely interesting, and unpredictable, show. Finally, although Axl did all that ranting, Perry actually had something to say, about gangs, drugs, and truly freeing yourself.
    Finally, although I did say it wasn't really fair to put all those bands up against Guns N' Roses, even if you include their opener, Skid Row (esp. since Skid Row would have lost, miserably, if put up against any of the Lolla bands), Ferrell does deserve credit for creating Lollapalooza. It showed that his musical and cultural vision was way broader than his own band. Also, the variety of the line-up showed how deep the field was on the alternative side. Skid Row only represented the shallowness of the metal bands available.
    Which is why, in the end, alternative clearly won the day. There was a movement there, a number of bands which shared an attitude, an approach to music, even if they played very different music from each other. A movement with an expanding energy, while G N' R's movement - heavy metal - was actually shrinking, on its last legs.
    Of course, it was all settled within a year or so, although not by Jane's Addiction. No, it came when the rolling bassline and chiming chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” took over the airwaves. At that point, no one could deny that alternative was king.

copyright 2015 G. Murray Thomas