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Bloodhound Gang in-the-news

Rock Fest Had It All But Heat

May 29, 1997Natasha Kassulke
Wisconsin State Journal

Rhythm appears weekly in the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times.

We froze for the sake of rock 'n' roll.

While the lineup for New Rock Fest in Milwaukee on Monday was hot, a raw, cold wind whipped off Lake Michigan and took some of the fun out the fest.

In fact, wide-ranging cases of windburn left fans who filled three-fourths of the 24,000-capacity Marcus Amphitheater wondering: Whose idea is it to hold New Rock Fest on Memorial Day, anyway?

Guatemalan sweaters, hats, mittens and blankets where hotter commodities than the bands.

Even the coffee and hot chocolate lines beat out the beer ones. The opposite is true at Summerfest.

But like Summerfest, the ROAR (Reflections of Alternative Rhythms) tour that comprised New Rock Fest gave fans a chance to catch some of the bands that define the face of alternative music today. It provided a glimpse of others -- such as Ryan Downe, Seven Dust and Puzzle Gut -- that might be future big names.

Sixteen bands on two stages over 12 hours also isn't a bad deal. The overall ticket price equals just $1 to $2 per band.

ROAR also is like Lollapalooza because it breaks up the music with mental and physical challenge.

This year, an area was partitioned for ages 18 and up who wanted to live out their fantasies as Human Flys. Wearing Velcro suits, they threw themselves against a Velcro wall.

Friends also went fist-to-fist in an inflatable boxing ring. Others sampled snuff and took free condoms to blow up and bump like beachballs.

Those with blankets battled the cold the best, outlasting fans who forgot to layer their clothing.

Milwaukee band The Gufs joined Matchbox 20, Republica, Linda Perry (formerly of Four Non-Blondes) and Tonic in solid, but otherwise unmemorable sets.

The call of the wild was Beck. The waif-like break-dancer started almost 40 minutes late, pushing the rest of the lineup back as well.

But with Beck came some funk-style friction. Fans danced and chanted along as Beck played hip-hop and jazz-fused songs such as "Where It's At" off his latest CD, "Odelay," then dipped back into his "Mellow Gold" days with "Loser."

Fans stuck around long enough for the Bloodhound Gang's comic barrage on pop culture in "One Fierce Beer Coaster" and cover songs of Duran Duran, Run D.M.C. and Weezer.

They also crowded the side stage to catch bald techno-vegetarian Moby, before heading to their car heaters.

Psychobilly surf guitarist The Reverend Horton Heat tried to fire up his few remaining freezing fans with songs of sin, sex and substance abuse off CDs such as "It's Martini Time."

"Did they put downers in the water?" The Reverend wondered aloud.

And it was ice water at that. An optimistic few bought T-shirts (read: "Rehab is for quitters"). Others settled on sarcastic bumper stickers: "Jesus is coming. Look busy."

Sponge, a fun and furious hard-rock band that claims to have been morphed into playing by an experimental drug called Wax Ecstatic (also their new album) rocked a half-filled theater.

And just about 1,500 people stayed for Iggy Pop (aka Iggy Stooge to his longtime fans).

The 50-year-old high priest of punk hasn't mellowed with age. He played everything from "Nightclubbing," a contribution to the "Trainspotting" CD, to "Search and Destroy," which Nike used during an Olympics ad campaign.

Those who traded in Iggy's Ice Bowl for bedtime missed a punk genius who contorts his shirtless torso with the best of the Jim Rose Circus freaks.

To fill in empty seats around the stage, people with lawn and bleacher seats were allowed down front -- so close they could count every rib on Iggy's emaciated body.

New Rock Fest is a good idea and a good deal. But if this is meant to kick off Milwaukee's summer festival season, some sun and warmer temperatures would be welcome.