R.O.A.R. only playfully meows — Iggy Pop

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
June 2, 1997

It was a surreal sight Saturday at the New World Music Theatre. By 4:30 p.m. – three hours after the Revelations of Alternative Rhythms (R.O.A.R.) Festival started – there were only 150 people inside the Tinley Park enormodome.

This is a venue that seats 30,000 fans.  On the plus side, there were no lines for the restrooms or concessions.  But the event felt more like a backyard barbecue than a big-time rock show.

About 500 more fans filled up the first few rows by the time Iggy Pop closed the show with his pulsating set. But the shed was still embarrassingly barren.  Not that Pop seemed to mind.  Bounding onstage in a pair of shiny vinyl trousers with his long blond mane flying and his chest characteristically bare, the 50-year-old godfather of punk didn’t roll around in broken glass like he used to during his days with the Stooges.  But he stage dived into the audience, spit out “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and then invited a good chunk of his fans to dance with him onstage during his raucous rendition of “Lust for Life.”

R.O.A.R. was conceived as competition for the traveling alternative music festivals such as Lollapalooza and H.O.R.D.E.  But the show didn’t offer enough “names” – along with Pop, Sponge, Reverend Horton Heat, Tonic, Bloodhound Gang, Linda Perry, Ryan Downe, Catfish, Baboon, Treadmill Trackstar, Puzzle Gut and Seven Dust were on the bill. Also, it wasn’t promoted well enough.

“We were watching MTV and saw that Iggy Pop was playing, so we just decided to come down and see him,” said 17-year-old Patrick Reynolds of Hyde Park, who made it onstage to dance during “Lust for Life.”  “We didn’t know anyone else who would be playing, but we wanted to see him. We were sure it would be sold out, but we had no problem getting tickets.”

They paid full ticket price ($27.75), not realizing that scalpers were trying to unload front-row seats for $25 a pair that afternoon.

Actually, reserved seats weren’t even necessary once inside the venue. Ushers encouraged fans to sit anywhere they wanted, and most ended up sitting in the first 10 rows.

The low attendance allowed all 12 bands to play on the main stage.

While it couldn’t have been rewarding for the artists to look out on a sea of nothing, most of the bands appeared to be having a good time. Tonic was relaxed, as if it were going through a soundcheck. But Sponge turned in an electric performance, playing everything from its hit single “Wax Ecstatic” to its cover of the “Speed Racer” theme.

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