Green Day singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstong eating a sandwich during an interview backstage at the 1994 Lollapalooza music festival in Cloverdale. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

PHOTOS: The day 28,000 Lollapalooza-goers rocked Cloverdale in 1994

Fans share memories of drugs, bad Smashing Pumpkins, Nick Cave walk-off and ‘letdown’ of Surrey date

Not every day 28,000 music fans pack a venue in Surrey, but that’s what happened on Aug. 30, 1994.

That late-summer Tuesday, when the Lollapalooza music festival landed at Cloverdale Fairgrounds, it represented one of the largest ticketed concerts in Surrey history, eclipsing the 25,000-strong crowd that saw Mumford & Sons at Holland Park 19 years later, in 2013, but not the FVDED festival dates of recent years.

To clarify, we’re talking concerts for which tickets are sold, not free-festival gatherings.

In 1994, Lollapalooza-goers each paid $35 to see the travelling roadshow of alternative-rock bands in the middle of the harness racing track, including main-stage entertainers The Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, George Clinton & the P-Funk Allstars, The Breeders, A Tribe Called Quest, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, L7 and Green Day. Second-stage artists were Stereolab, The Boo Radleys, Shudder to Think, The Pharcyde and Shonen Knife.

As a young journalist I covered the festival for a Vancouver-based magazine, and was even invited backstage to interview Green Day singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstong.

Sadly, I no longer have my notes or the published story from that day, but I do have a photograph I took of Armstrong standing outside his band trailer, munching on a sandwich. At that moment, the Beastie Boys were jamming in the next-door trailer. It’s an amazing memory.

(Story continues below video of the 1994 Lollapalooza tour, from a date somewhere in the U.S.)

Green Day’s breakthrough album, Dookie, had been released only a few months before, and Lollapalooza was a coming-out party for the pop-punk band from California.

Chicago’s Smashing Pumpkins, on the other hand, headlined the festival, and that day in Cloverdale is universally remembered as a horrible one for singer/guitar player Billy Corgan and his crew.

SCROLL DOWN TO SEE MORE PHOTOS

My pal Cory Raven remembers the Pumpkins as “the worst live performance I’ve ever seen, to this day.”

“Corgan wasn’t great live at the best of times, but I think he was intentionally singing horribly that night,” Raven recalls. “It sounded like a wounded bird with a bad cold. It was shockingly bad to the point where when you saw people in the days and weeks after and Lollapalooza came up in conversation, someone would often mention how bad the Pumpkins were.”

Wish I had video or audio of it, but I can’t find any on Youtube. Anyone?

The ‘94 Lollapalooza was a first-concert experience for White Rock-raised guitar player Jim Black, who was 12 at the time.

“That was such a good time to hear those bands,” he told me a few years ago. “My parents took me to so many shows. My parents were pretty hip.”

White Rock resident David Geertz, who books concerts of his own now, took in the Lollapalooza fest every year until 1994.

“For me,” Geertz said, “that was my last Lollapalooza and I paid to see some bands that I missed in the clubs, like Boo Radleys, Stereolab and The Breeders. My defining moment was when everyone was at the main stage watching A Tribe Called Quest and I was introduced to my first of many live Stereolab sets. Maybe 100 people laid out on the grass watching. It was mesmerizing!”

Kevin Statham spent the day photographing the show as an accredited member of the music press.

“I thought Lollapalooza 94 was a bit of a letdown,” he says. “The previous two years at Thunderbird Stadium (at UBC in Vancouver) had been stellar. Both shows were packed with relevant, amazing bands. The lineup for the Cloverdale show was OK, but not amazing.

“The only thing I remember really clearly was Nick Cave leaving the stage early” due to having “crap thrown at him, Statham recalled.

“It just wasn’t the most memorable Lollapalooza for me,” he continued. “Part of the problem may have been the Cloverdale Racetrack. It was just a weird place to see a show. I was glad that in 1995 Lollapalooza was back with a really cool lineup and was again at Thunderbird Stadium.”

Cory Van Ieperen lived in Cloverdale at the time, and continues to base his Corycatures drawing business there. On the day Lollapalooza rolled through town, Van Ieperen rode his bike to the fairgrounds with a friend from work; he stacked lumber at a mill while going to art school at Kwantlen College.

He didn’t buy a ticket.

“I sat on the Lord Tweedsmuir hill,” Van Ieperen recalls. “I saw the crowds but that was it.… I thought the Beastie Boys sounded great but the Pumpkins sounded awful. Musically (the band) sounded awesome, but Billy’s voice was terrible. It turned me off to subsequent visits by them, which is too bad as I’m a big fan.”

Now a White Rock-area realtor, Andrew Hudson remembers a festival that “had so much to offer by way of artists.”

It was his first and last Lollapalooza, Hudson said.

“It was also my last festival show. I wasn’t too old for them, just too tired of the sensory overload. Well, I also didn’t leave with the tingles, or at least, not tingles from the music.”

He remembers “lots and lots of drugs” at the fairgrounds that day.

“My party consisted of a couple of us on ‘shrooms, another on X, one on acid and one completely messed up on all three (he’s now a school teacher in Ontario). I know for a fact, he doesn’t remember any of it. Truth be known, the show was a distance second to the ambience and party-favours.”

In retrospect, Hudson said the concert was “insignificant due to the contraband. The trip home… consisted of a stop just prior to the old Port Mann bridge and a passenger stating that the last thing any of us wanted to do, on whatever we were on, was to spend a night in jail. I sure wish I’d enjoyed Nick Cave the way I should have. Festival concerts are for the uninterested.”

Have a story to share of the 1994 Lollapalooza date in Cloverdale? CLICK HERE to email me.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Live music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The stage at the 1994 Lollapalooza music festival in Cloverdale. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

A view of the stage and crowd at the 1994 Lollapalooza music festival in Cloverdale, with race-horse barns in the distance. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

A Beastie Boys case outside trailers backstage at the 1994 Lollapalooza music festival in Cloverdale. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

A Tribe Called Quest’s trailer backstage at the 1994 Lollapalooza music festival in Cloverdale. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Just Posted

(Photo: Twitter@SurreyRCMP)
Surrey Mounties, pet owners, bracing for Halloween

Last year the Surrey RCMP received 147 fireworks complaints on Diwali and 121 on Halloween

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police investigating after another teen girl followed in Tsawwassen

Police say a man in a burgundy car approached teen girls on at least two, possibly three occasions

White Rock RCMP are searching for Richard John Lewis, who is wanted on warrants for assault and uttering threats. (RCMP handout)
White Rock RCMP searching for wanted man

Richard John Lewis is wanted on warrants for assault, uttering threats

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Seven more Surrey schools reporting COVID-19

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

The B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch has issued a decision about the actions of an elementary school teacher in Langley. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley elementary teacher suspended for grabbing, shoving, yelling at kids

Roxann Rojas will lose her legal authority to teach for two weeks from Oct. 25 to Nov. 7, 2020

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read