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Article posted: 8/2/2011 12:01 AM

Suburban fans recall 1991 Lolla

By Matt Arado

St. Charles resident Cheryl Pessetti speaks for a whole generation of music fans when she considers the fact that Lollapalooza is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

"That makes me feel so old!" she said.

Pessetti was one of the thousands of Chicago-area music fans who saw the very first incarnation of Lollapalooza way back in 1991 at what was then known as the World Music Theater in South suburban Tinley Park. (It's now called the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre.)

She was a punk-rock fan in her early 20s when she went to the show, then a tour, with her husband, Dan -- they were dating at the time -- and a group of friends.

"I remember loving it," she said. "I was hugely into Siouxsie and the Banshees then, and they were great. I also loved Jane's Addiction. We all had fun."

Lollapalooza was created by former Jane's Addiction leader Perry Farrell as an elaborate farewell tour for the band, which had decided to call it quits. The first year's lineup was an offbeat mix of bands that hovered under the mainstream radar. In addition to Jane's and Siouxsie, the lineup consisted of Living Colour, Nine Inch Nails, Ice-T, The Butthole Surfers and The Rollins Band.

The tour was a huge hit, and it became an annual pop-culture focal point for Generation Xers. It also became the standard-bearer for a new 1990s music genre: "alternative rock."

"To my friends and me, it kind of felt like Lollapalooza was ours," said Schaumburg native Jason Wyatt, who now lives in Chicago. Wyatt attended the first show in 1991, then went every year through 1994.

"Jane's Addiction was the big draw for me that first year," he said. "I ended up being blown away by Ice-T, too. I hadn't been into rap before then."

Lollapalooza went on hiatus after 1997, returning briefly for a one-and-done tour in 2003. It seemed like Lolla was over for good, but then Farrell reinvented it as a one-city destination festival in 2005. It has rocked Grant Park every summer since.

Pessetti is still a music fan; she counts The White Stripes, The Black Keys and one of this year's Lollapalooza headliners, The Foo Fighters, as current favorites.

Still, she's never gotten out to one of the overhauled Lollapalooza festivals.

"I think it's a great thing that it's back, especially for younger people, but I haven't been to the new version," Pessetti said. "The cost just doesn't seem worth it."

Pessetti laughs after saying that. "I guess that makes me sound old again, right?"

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