But to be fair to this year's organizers, Lolla's always had a mild case of monotony. Sure, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Lush and Pearl Jam (among the big guns in the '92 edition) may seem an eclectic mix, but that's nothing compared with -- and I can't believe I'm saying this -- those old Fillmore days when Bill Graham put on the worst of the hippie-slob groups alongside some dynamite soul band or an ancient blues artist. How's about a cowboy, say the likes of Jim Lauderdale, at Lollapalooza? Sorry, pardner. Alternative rock means mostly rock, plus whatever hip offshoots are accepted by the alt-rock masses. Besides, whatever might have been alternative about this rock never translated to the mainstream.

Another fair question: Who will attend this festival? If the question were who should attend, the answer would be no one. But as far as who will: Rabid fans of any of the acts are expected, but moderate fans not wishing to pay a full day's fee to wait for a set by their favorite band might not pony up, considering the haphazard fare. I guarantee you that most kids in Middle America can't name a single song by Tricky or Orbital, let alone hum one. The absence of selling points is transfixing. Even Snoop Doggy Dogg, the one artist here with a modicum of charisma, has got an uphill battle as the lone rap act. Rap on record has provided some of this decade's finest musical achievements, but live it doesn't usually translate.

What are you left with? Tool? If you'd gone to Lollapalooza a couple of years ago you could've caught them in better company. They now sound like simplistic riffage to these ears, so cart me off to the old age home 'cause I ain't gettin' it. The Marley brothers -- Julian and Damian, not Ziggy -- will play reggae; the audience will smoke pot. Big event there. Even the second stage, where they usually hide a couple of cool things (cf.. Guided by Voices, Superchunk, Mike Watt), sounds like a bummer. Dr. Octagon? Inch? eels? James? No thanks.

You know and I know what this is really telling us: It's over. Let's admit it and get it out of the way. All things must pass. All good things come to an end. Better to read it now than in one of those typically useless essays years later when it does nobody any good: "By 1996 Lollapalooza had ceased performing the function it set out to perform. The next year was worse." It was all right while it lasted, but now it's time to let it go. Certainly with sales falling flat in most markets, the message is clear.

Lollapalooza '97 will be held Wednesday, June 25, at Coral Sky Amphitheatre, 601 Sansbury Way, West Palm Beach, 561-795-8883. Scheduled acts include Orbital, Tool, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tricky, Korn, James, Julian and Damian Marley and the Uprising Band, eels, Summercamp, Dr. Octagon, Jeremy Toback, Radish, and Inch. Showtime is 2:00 p.m. Tickets cost $34.

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