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Lollapalooza hitches ride on superhighway

This year’s Lollapalooza music festival will focus more on non-music attractions such as interactive computer technology, and will have the atmosphere of a “neighborhood swap meet,” said founder-musician Perry Farrell.

The lineup for the roadshow was announced Wednesday. Main acts will be Smashing Pumpkins, the Beastie Boys and George Clinton. The event will stop off at more than 30 cities in the U.S. and Canada, beginning July 1 in Vancouver, B.C.

Seattle rock superstars Nirvana, who were long rumored to be headlining this summer’s tour, will not be part of the package. Unconfirmed reports are swirling through the music world that the trio is disbanding in the wake of group leader Kurt Cobain’s medical and drug problems.

While the first two Lollapaloozas were hailed for their cutting-edge bands and underground ethos, last year’s was derided for becoming too mainstream.

One paper dubbed it “Mall-apalooza” in reference to the hordes of suburban kids who paid $ 29 per ticket to queue for temporary tattoos and expensive souvenirs. It was also one of the highest-grossing concert tours.

While refusing to criticize last year’s version, with which he had minimal involvement, Farrell said this year’s would have some definite changes. Not the least of which is that Farrell, who leads the band Porno for Pyros, will have a hands-on role.

The most notable difference will be away from the main stage and among the sideshows and attractions. A computer bay will be set up where those attending can venture onto the Lollapalooza Superhighway.

“We’re going to have computerized dating out there on the field,” Farrell said. “With video, we can actually set up a dating service, as well as talk to Russia if somebody’s got a pal out there.”

The newest version of Lollapalooza also will ditch some of the tacky merchandising, Farrell said.

“We’ve hired a gentleman to go out in the field, travel to the cities we’re playing, and I want him to find the best food, jewelry, second-hand clothing and records or anything else he can hunt out that would be of interest to the kids. It’s almost like a neighborhood swap meet.”

Of course, it’s the bands that will draw most of the interest. Earlier versions featured such acts as Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chili Peppers before they became huge. Because such “alternative” bands now sell millions of records, Lollapalooza has lost some of its underground chic.

This year, the Breeders and L7 are among bands that are well-known to music fans, but not to the public at large.

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