Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: The traveling alt-rock festival that came before Lollapalooza

When we look back on the 90s and the alt-rock explosion, a lot of credit is given to Perry Farrell and the establishment of the Lollapalooza Festival as a driving force. But this was not the first attempt to bring together a diverse lineup for a show under the alternative banner.

In the fall of 1990—more than six months before the first Lollapalooza show—Ian Astbury and The Cult staged something called Gathering of the Tribes, a two-date/two city event that featured 14 acts, including Iggy Pop, Soundgarden, Public Enemy, Ice T, Queen Latifah, The Mission, The Charlatans UK and more.

Only about 10,000 people showed up for each gig, meaning that Astbury lost about $50,000 of his own money on the events. There were plans for a 1991 edition featuring Primus, Fishbone, and more, but Ian couldn’t make the money work.

Meanwhile, Lollapalooza stepped in, gobbled up all the acts and tickets—and that was it for the Gathering of the Tribes.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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