Lollapalooza ’92 Retrospective

by Kathy Davis , John Reynolds , Jessica Letkemann on July 30, 2007

lol · la · pa · loo · za noun : one that is extraordinarily impressive; also : an outstanding example; an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event; an exceptional example or instance. Something outstanding of its kind.

By the time Lollapalooza ’92 wound through North America 15 years ago, Pearl Jam had indeed become something outstanding. On March 25, 1992 – the day Lolla masterminds Perry Farrell and Ted Gardner announced the tour lineup – Pearl Jam played First Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Attendance: 1300. Ten had been certified gold a month before to the day, but “Alive” wasn’t yet a Top Ten single – it was barely charting at #18 in the Modern Rock chart!

Between the announcement of the Lolla tour and its opening date July 18, Pearl Jam’s popularity exploded. The May 13 broadcast of MTV Unplugged and the heavy rotation of the “Alive” and “Even Flow” videos propelled Ten to #5 with a bullet on the Billboard charts and helped catapult the band into a maelstrom of popularity in the States. By August 22, a month into the tour, Ten hit #2 – its peak chart position – and the album was officially certified platinum (1 million copies sold). Actual sales two weeks into the tour were 2 million units; by Lollapalooza’s end, Ten had reached Triple Platinum, and charted higher than tour headliners the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s latest release BloodSugarSexMagic, which only reached #3.

The band was coming off of a short break after their late-June European tour was stopped short due to exhaustion (and the upsetting theft of some of the band’s personal belongings backstage in Stockholm June 25th). Pearl Jam’s daily 45 minutes of intense, unbridled musical passion? Extraordinarily impressive. Hit the historical road with us as we re-visit some “outstanding examples” of the mayhem, silliness and intensity of Lollapalooza ’92.

Roll out of bed and play

PJ play early in Main Stage’s second slot

A typical day on the main stage of the midway is shown in the crew sheet to the right.

The bands’ placement on the bill – second on the roster after British band Lush – was markedly out of place with their by then stratospheric success, but it got crowds into the venue early to experience the entire festival.

The typical stage time was 3PM in the afternoon, but was forced even earlier by some outdoor venues that had curfews.

Did you know you can say “penis” on TV?

July 18, 1992: Mountain View, CA

On opening day after soundcheck, Stone and Jeff are interviewed by MTV’s Dave Kendall of Sunday night “Alternative Rock” program 120 Minutes. Parts of the interview are threaded throughout a Lollapalooza special edition of the show. Some of our favorite bits:

Kendall: Is there such a thing as the Seattle scene, or is that journalistic hype?
Stone: Journalistic hype.
Jeff: Actually there is a coffee house the other day that like…Mark (Arm) was there, Kim Thayil…they were playing chess.
Stone: (laughs) Bullshit! (much laughter)
Kendall: Well I mean…there seems to be a common thread in the Seattle scene, I know it’s been overhyped….
Stone: I guess you just have to define scene. There are some great bands in Seattle certainly, and a lot of ‘em came out of kind of a punk rock kind of club circuit…
Jeff: And I think that was more of a scene, I mean at that time…
Stone: Because when we were all in Seattle… No one’s there now.
Jeff: Nobody toured at that point either so everybody hung out. And now we don’t get a chance to see anybody…I mean we come home and Soundgarden’s on tour; and they come home and we’re on tour.
Stone: That’s why we’re all together gonna quit the business at the beginning of next year.
Jeff: We’re gonna go fishing.
Stone: We’re QUITTING the business…god damn it.
Kendall: Tell us a bit about Temple of the Dog.
Jeff: Well we….Pearl Jam and Soundgarden broke up and formed this band… (laughs)
Kendall: Let’s go on to more recent history… your guys were on a European tour and it came to an abrupt halt. Why?
Jeff: We’d been on the road over 10 months I think there just came a point about half way through that tour it was just starting to get pretty intense. I mean just being away from home, being on the road all the time and being lonely or being depressed or whatever… a lot of times you can take it out on one another. We said a long time ago if anybody got too sick of touring in the long run…a few shows or calling the end to touring…if we weren’t going Lollapalooza we wouldn’t be touring anymore – we’d probably take a break, we’d go home and make another record.

Kendall then asks about the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, Jeff talks about Mr. Lifto and Stone reveals an intimate place he would like to have pierced (see video below).

Jeff and Stone interview, Mt. View, CA, 1992

Later, the two record an MTV promo for 120 Minutes, and Stone ends it saying: “Did you know you can say penis on TV?”

Vedder Vs. Jourgensen: Bile Beer Bouts

Location: whole tour, second stage

“Matt The Tube”, one of the performers in Lollapalooza side stage act the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow was known for having an interesting “drinking problem”.

Matt would feed seven feet of surgical tubing through his nose into his stomach. The tube was connected to a clear container with a plunger built into it that was filled with beer, ketchup and mayonnaise or assorted other liquids; the concoction would be pumped into Matt The Tube’s stomach and then siphoned back out via the plunger contraption. The resulting fluids that were sucked back out of his stomach – along with gastric juices – would then be poured into a glass and imbibed by Matt, or a member of the audience would be challenged to drink it. The vomitous elixir was dubbed “Bile Beer”, and during the Lolla tour, Chris Cornell started the ball rolling on a battle to see who could drink the most of the disgusting brew.

“Chris Cornell was the instigator”, says Jim Rose in Freak Like Me: Inside the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow. “We were playing Kansas when it started, and boredom must have driven him to it. In the middle of our show while I was pumping Matt The Tube’s stomach, Chris strode out on the stage, took the mike, and said something to the effect of ‘I sure am thirsty. Might I try the vile bile?’

The crowd went ballistic as he guzzled the whole quart. The next night Eddie Vedder took our stage, and slurped back a liter. Al Jourgensen (of Ministry), realizing he couldn’t be first, decide to make up for it in quantity. The next night he tossed back two quarts and asked for more. What he didn’t realize was Eddie was gonna challenge him. The war was on.

In fact, the topic that sprang to everyone’s lips, daily, nightly in catering, over drinks, was bile beer. Long debates ensued, always boiling down to ‘Would you or wouldn’t you?’ While others talked, Eddie did. By outdoing Al the very next night, when he chugged two quarts as well; but Eddie, as he was quick to point out, had drunk it before. Al countered by returning the next night, and equaling the score. They called a truce and contemplated their next move, freeing up spots for others to participate, and there was no shortage of lip sponges.

By tour’s end their bile battle had resumed. For the second-to-the-last show, Eddie climbed on our stage and defiantly downed another quart. He was ahead of Al again! For the final show, Al clambered onstage and downed a quart himself to once again even the score. That night backstage, Al and Eddie eyed each other, knowing the bile war was unwon and that there would never be a truce. Eddie broke the silence. ‘Al,’ He said confidently, ‘you’re about to go on tour. But we’re not. So I’ve go the time to hang around the Jim Rose Circus, and drink bile beer every night if I want to.’ Al glared at him for a second, then shrugged. The last words I heard him mutter were, ‘Fuck it then, I’ll just make my own.’” [1]

I sang at Lollapalooza …
and all I got was this lousy t-shirt

Ed at Lollapalooza Ed at Lollapalooza
Ed from an unknown show sporting a Lollapalooza t-shirt featuring the ubiquitous half-deer half-amoeba logo

Let it flow like a mudslide

July 29, 1992: Cleveland, OH – aka “Mud Bowl”

A summer tour of outdoor venues is likely to have a few raidy days. The July 29 show in Cleveland, OH, became known as “The Mud Bowl”.

“Vedder (is) throwing his head back, his stringy brown hair blown backward by the wet summer breeze” says Gina Arnold in LA Weekly “while directly in front of him a vast green hillside on the banks of the Cuyahoga River in Ohio is fast turning to mud.

Sheets of rain, sweeping across the seated portion of the arena like a transparent gauze curtain, drench a crowd of 20,000. Vedder smiles beatifically, stretching his arms outward, and as he does so the audience moves closer, thrusting itself hard toward the band.

Faces shine in jubilee. Bodies surf upon the crowd’s crest. Boys leap upward toward Vedder, stammering out welcoming phrases at the top of their lungs, unheard above the music and the wind.

Vedder waits; he ranges around the stage in circles, heaving and singing, his voice booming through the weather, the crowd bearing down the hillside, closer and closer, completely rapt. And then he does it. Climbing the side of the speaker stacks, he leaps down into the crowd’s arms, a 15-foot drop in slo-mo, his body twisting all the way.”[2]

Jim Rose also remembers that dirty day. “The rain slapped against faces, and slammed against rickety booths that quickly toppled. It lashed out at the second stage, peeling off the roof and knocking the structure to splinters, sending us scurrying toward the bus. As quickly as it hit, it departed; and hour later electricity was stored to the main stage, and then insanity broke loose.

“Because Pearl Jam came on, sucking people toward the stage like a vacuum. By this point in the tour they were huge. Relieved that the show would continue, the fans went nuts, moshing and dancing and transforming the field into one giant mud pit. Games of mud broke out spontaneously: they were eating it, throwing it, wrestling in it, making slides that people waited in line for.

Backstage had taken a whipping; it was muddy as everywhere else. Instead of avoiding it, Eddie and Chris (Cornell) dove in and took mud baths. If you consider yourself a regular person, there is a downside to fame: every time you walk out in public, you’re mobbed. Eddie and Chris had been complaining about it for some time. And with the downpour they saw the opportunity for true anonymity.

“Freshly dipped in nature’s disguise, they ran out to the field and mingled with the general public, who had no clue they were mud-mucking with their idols. (Eddie and Chris) stood in line at the mud slides, played all the games, tossing mudballs and wrestling. Mud proved to be liberating and the great equalizer.” [3]

Can’t get there from here

July 27, 1992: St. Louis, MO

July 29, 1992: Cleveland, OH

August 14, 1992: Reston, VA

Broken buses, a forgotten singer and traffic jams still can’t stop the show from going on.

“Pearl Jam’s (bus) busted between Cincinnati and Cleveland,” writes Arnold, “forcing drummer Dave Abbruzzese to scramble across Highway 71 in an attempt to flag down Soundgarden for a hitch. Another time at 3 a.m., somewhere between Denver and the Mississippi River, singer Eddie Vedder was left behind at a truck stop in Bumfuck, Kansas. He has to hitch the next 300 miles to St. Louis. And then he claimed he liked doing it.” [4]

Prior to the August 14 show in Reston, VA, the traffic was “so bad for a while that Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam, had to get out of his car three miles from the festival site and run the rest of the way to make showtime”. [5]

When the band takes the stage, Chris Cornell comes on with them to substitute for the absent singer. “I’m gonna need some help singing this one. I don’t know all the lyrics to any of these songs. Eddie is not here, he can hear this, you gotta sing loud. Eddie will never come up on stage if you guys don’t know the words, I guarantee it.” Eddie runs in through the venue and climbs up from the security pit onto the stage; Chris picks him up and carries him to the microphone. Eddie runs off stage for a second, comes back, douses the crowd with water from a bottle and says “I’ve been running. I’ve been running for like 4 miles … I didn’t think I’d make it … thanks for waiting.”

While Ed’s climbing up slippery hills

Ed scales the scaffolding with Doc Martins for hiking boots

Ed’s dangerous habit of climbing and jumping into the crowd as illustrated in the commercial “Even Flow” video were part of many an evening when Pearl Jam played smaller venues in the U.S. and Europe. “Porch” at the Pink Pop Festival in June was Ed’s first time jumping into a huge festival crowd, and it was a near disaster when the pit collapsed underneath him after he jumped from a camera rig. Still infused with the passion and urgency of the music, Ed continued to scramble up lighting rigs, scaffolding, across seats and out into the crowd throughout the Lollapalooza tour. Here are a few exceptional examples of his feats of daring.

St. Louis (Maryland Heights), Missouri July 27, 1992
Writes Arnold, “At St. Louis’ Riverport Amphitheatre, Vedder started climbing the scaffolding in the middle of the song ‘Why Go’ and didn’t stop until he’d reached the roof. There, 25 feet above the audience, Vedder walked along the inside of a giant steel beam to the very back of the 7,000 seat bowl while the band continued jamming. Then he poked his head out directly above the lawn area. (He then) leapt from the roof directly into the mosh pit on the grass.

‘I wept,’ a fat kid named Todd from Delano, Kansas (said) afterward.

‘I threw up.’ Vedder said wryly about an hour later.” [6]

Pearl Jam was reportedly banned from the Amphitheatre for some time after this.

Jones Beach, Wantagh, NY: August 9, 1992
During “Porch”, Ed calmly traverses the left-speaker stack and rigging and finds himself at the highest point of the venue in less than a minute. Being a waterfront venue, it seemed at one point that Ed was going to take a dive into the water. “I remember at Jones Beach” said Sony Music Executive Michelle Anthony “standing with Kelly (Curtis), watching Ed climb this huge scaffolding. He’s looking down, and it looks like there’s water on the side, except we knew that the water was only six inches deep. The two of us are going oh no, please don’t let him jump. There were always those edge of the seat moments”.[6]

“Porch” from 1992-08-09 Jones Beach, Wantagh, NY

Miami, Florida: August 22, 1992 During the “Porch” breakdown, Ed runs stage right and climbs onto a rope ladder; he weaves is between his ankles, hanging there for a second before continuing to scramble up it. He climbs up it, hangs on it in mid air, flailing about and then starting to swing on it back and forth like a trapeze. He hangs on one arm, climbs down a bit, hangs on one arm again, jumps off and runs across the stage. Ed takes off his shirt, throws it down and starts climbing up the speaker stacks stage left, rapelling up them in a Spiderman-like ascent. He edged around to the front of the stack, hanging for a second while a sea of outstretched arms flail back and forth, goading him to jump. Ed propels his legs from the scaffolding, jettisoning out and flipping over onto his back mid-air, landing about 12 rows of bodies into the crowd. He is quickly passed forward, remaining curled up fetal he is gently propelled back onstage.

“Porch” (partial) from 1992-08-22 Miami, FL

Alpine Valley, Troy, Wisconsin: August 29, 1992
Again, during the “Porch” jam, Ed moves stage right. He jumps off the stage, runs through the crowd to the back of the covered part of the Pavilion, and starts climbing up one of the awning pillars, clambering up the built in rungs and flipping over the rail onto the spotlight platform built in. He looks around, sees a body-width wide beam overhead just under the wooden pavilion roof, and hoists himself onto it and clambers along it. The crowd on the lawn goes wild, awaiting his next move. Ed makes his way around the outside of the lighting platform, hanging from an electrical cord. Dave’s tribal drums crescendo in a machine-gun-like beat, and Ed flails about, banging his head. He shimmies down the electrical cord half-way, positions himself over the crowd on the lawn and flops into the pit, swimming over a few bodies before finally being rescued by a security guard, who carries him back through the venue and puts him back onstage.

“Porch” from 1992-08-29 Alpine Valley, East Troy, WI

Simply Smashing

By John Reynolds

Broad daylight. Stagelights having no effect. Jeff jumping, Mike wailing. Dave crashing, Stone bobbing. Crowd swarming. Ed screaming to the crowd, inaudible with the mic 10 feet behind him on the stage floor. This was the Lollapalooza “Porch” jam.

At the Reston, VA, Lolla I was lucky enough to be about ten feet in front of Stone as the last few chords of “Porch” approached. He went over to Mike, saying something like “Watch this” and proceeded to smash a Les Paul to bits. Part of me was covering my eyes from the shrapnel, but the other part was feeding off the energy which was indescribable. Check out the video below to see what I mean.

“Porch” (partial) from 1992-08-14 Lake Fairfax, Reston, VA

What’s your impression?

There are a lot of Lollapalooza shows from the 1992 Concert Chronology with no eyewitness accounts. Did you go? What memories do you have? Let us know by filling out the form at the bottom of this page!


  1. Rose, Jim. Freak Like Me: Inside the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow. New York: Dell Publishing, 1995 [Back to article]
  2. Arnold, Gina. “Lollapalooza: The Greatest McTour on Earth”. LA Weekly Sept 4-10, 1992 [Back to article]
  3. Rose, Jim. Freak Like Me: Inside the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow. New York: Dell Publishing, 1995 [Back to article]
  4. Arnold, Gina. “Lollapalooza: The Greatest McTour on Earth”. LA Weekly Sept 4-10, 1992 [Back to article]
  5. Unknown Washington Post August 16, 1992 [Back to article]
  6. Arnold, Gina. “Lollapalooza: The Greatest McTour on Earth”. LA Weekly Sept 4-10, 1992 [Back to article]
  7. Eric Weisbard with Jessica Letkemann, Ann Powers, Chris Norris, William Van Meter, and Will Hermes. “Ten Past Ten”. Spin Online August, 2001 [Back to article]
Kathy Davis ( Twitter: @CrookedArm23 )
A Bay-Area based entrepreneur, co-editor Kathy conceives and writes her share of TFT’s articles and sections. She was co-editor/co-founder of one of the first Pearl Jam fanzines "Footsteps" (1992-1997). Kathy’s first Pearl Jam show was at the Bridge School Benefit on November 1, 1992.
John Reynolds ( Twitter: @jjjrrr )
A New Jersey based programmer, John handles TFT’s programming and technical aspects. He also conceives and writes his share of TFT’s articles and sections. John’s first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 12, 1992.
Jessica Letkemann ( Twitter: @Letkemann )
TFT co-editor Jessica Letkemann is a New York based digital music journalist & editor. She's currently VP & Editor-In-Chief of Digital at Fuse Media ( and was previously managing editor of She has also been on staff at Spin and Premiere magazines. Her first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 2, 1992.

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