Green hair, yellow hair, pink hair--it looked at times like a collection of Dr. Seuss characters.
Nose rings, navel rings, lip rings. One boy had more spangly things hanging from him than a Christmas tree.
As Lollapalooza ’95 kicked off its two-day festival of deafening music and fermented beverages Monday, Irvine Meadows became a strange tableau of teens and other rebels trying to forge a group identity.
“Yuppies need not apply” was the unofficial rule as thousands of shirtless young men and near-shirtless women crowded against the concert stages, roaring their love for icons like Courtney Love, leader of a band called Hole.
Music was the main draw, but the overall theme seemed to be hormones gone haywire. Dave Avery, 25, stationed himself outside the “Mist Tent,” an open-air shower, and eyeballed each female concert-goer who emerged soaked to the skin.
He seemed content to do this for hours.
Tony Lugo, of Laguna Beach, also was looking for something more than good tunes. After a quick survey of the crowd, he told his buddies dejectedly:
“Y’ever notice that every chick with a Mohawk is a dog?”
With 15 places of his body already pierced, Phillip Icala was there to get another. As the concert raged, Icala milled around the body-piercing tent, trying to decide whether or not to let them puncture his navel. He already had six ear rings, an eyebrow ring, and several navel rings. So what was holding him back?
“My nipples hurt more than I thought they would,” he said quietly.
Summer jobs went by the wayside. Summer-school homework went unheeded. And sun-baked beaches went begging, as young people from throughout Southern California gathered in the spirit of Woodstock. But a lot of bong water has gone under the bridge since Jimi Hendrix.
“Who needs condoms?!?” a drag queen yelled from one of the mini-stages constructed around the main act.
“I do, I do,” yelled scores of teens, whom the transvestite promptly showered with prophylactics.
Nearby, 17-year-old Shalyn Spivey garnered some admiring glances from her pose-conscious peers when she put the free birth control devices to unorthodox use.
An aspiring police officer from Lytle Creek, Spivey had long auburn hair, which she shellacked into a pair of unicorn-ish spikes. Each spike she then wrapped with a condom, giving herself the look of a large rabbit, or an old-fashioned TV.
The point was political, she said, aimed at making people aware. Her friend chimed in that awareness was the point of the whole shebang.
“It’s about expressing ourselves and getting people to listen to our generation,” said 17-year-old Jessica Thompson.
Jerry Garcia’s dead, 17-year-old Ryan Mendiull reasoned, and all other party-hearty rockers will be following shortly.
“I’m alive right now, and I live to have fun,” said Mendiull, he of the supple tan and simple philosophy: “Summer school--I don’t believe in it.”
So now’s the time to gather your rosebuds (and ice cold Buds) while you may.
“Jim Morrison’s dead,” said Mendiull’s friend, Natalie Leroux. “It’s pretty sad. I wish I could have known him.”
Everyone turned to stare at Leroux, wondering what the heck she was talking about.
“Jim Morrison died a long time ago,” Mendiull said.
“I’m just saying . . . “
Mitch Holloway, a 17-year-old from Simi Valley, put it neatly:
“Have fun and rage,” he said, “so you can look back when you’re older and say, ‘I was there.’ ”
Actually, some of those in attendance won’t be able to say any such thing. They won’t be able to remember if they were there or not, judging from the redness of their eyeballs and the fragrant herb smell wafting from their pockets.
But many strenuously resisted attempts to portray this concert as a haven for lost souls adrift on a sea of beer suds and songs about nothing.
“You know what, I’m going to be an elementary school teacher, put that down!” said 23-year-old Kristen LaGarie (“It’s French for war”), who sucked down a beer in the parking lot while insisting she was merely sowing a few wild oats before settling into a respectable life. “When I’m sober, I’m very teachable.”