Mr. Clinton, president of Lollapalooza, brings funk to the fest

August 05, 1994|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

As far as George Clinton is concerned, playing the Lollapalooza festival is simply a matter of adjusting.

On the one hand, he and his P-Funk All Stars have adjusted their approach to fit the 45- to 50-minute time slot the festival allows them. "We just have to re-relate to back in the day when there were like 20 groups on the shows at the Apollo," he says, over the phone from a tour stop in Pittsburgh. "As opposed to the way we've been for the last 15 years, having the whole three-and-a-half to four hours to ourselves."

At the same time, Clinton tries to adjust the audience's attitude, so that instead of trying to analyze what they're seeing and hearing, the kids simply go with the funk.

"The Chili Peppers were telling us, 'Just hit 'em with the songs so fast they don't have time to think about it,' " he says. " 'Don't give 'em no grooves, because you ain't got long enough to do it.' So we got that concept down, and we just bust into it. Kinda rock 'n' roll.

"In this show, we use a couple of theatrical dynamics to break the people out of their analytical mode," he adds. "Because it's obvious they're going to try to analyze. They're going to say, 'What the [expletive] are they doing?' I don't care how much you heard about 'em or who they've worked with -- there's a dude in a wedding dress. There's one in a diaper. And they're not young kids no more.

"But nevertheless, they're playing some serious rock 'n' roll, and there's some serious vocals, and there's some stupidity for people who like to see things happening without any intellectualness at all. You can read anything you want into the group, and before you know it, everybody's coming together at the end of a song."

Clinton is pleased at the reaction his band has gotten from the Lollapalooza crowd. "The kids are accepting it right away," he says. "Even the real young kids are having a ball, and they were the ones we were afraid of."

But then, Clinton and his P-Funk crew have been freaking out and winning over listeners since before most of the Lollapaloozers were born. In fact, he says, playing these shows feels a lot like the early '70s, when what he calls the Parliafunkadelicment Thang was just beginning to click.

"We were a doo-wop group at first and had gotten off into rock 'n' roll," he explains. "We had just got ourselves some Marshall amps, so there was a lot of feedback -- we hadn't just learned it, but we were just getting it perfected, to the point that it wasn't just noise. 'Cause at first, it was just plain psychedelic noise, which fortunately everybody still got off, because that's what time it was in '68 and '69.

"But by the '70s, we were beginning to worry that our brain cells were burning out, so we started trying to organize it. Right around then, we were beginning to realize that Jimi Hendrix, even though it was rock 'n' roll and psychedelic, it was more like jazz in its tightness. It wasn't loose jams.

"But it was still chaotic. Our thing has always been trying to match chaos and order. Trying to get 'em both to go together on the stage. And that's what the funk is to us. It's like in 'Star Wars,' where they say 'Use the force, Luke.' It was basically like, 'Let go, and flow with it.' And when you start doing that, it transcends any intellectual thing."

Hear George Clinton

To hear excerpts from George Clinton's most recent album, call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call 268-7736; in Harford County, 836-5028; in Carroll County, 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6128 after you hear the greeting.

Lollapalooza

What: Lollapalooza, featuring George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars, Smashing Pumpkins, the Beastie Boys, the Breeders, A Tribe Called Quest, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, L7 and Green Day

When: Monday, Aug. 8. Gates open at 11 a.m., show starts at 2 p.m.

Where: Charles Town Races, Charles Town, W. Va.

Tickets: $31

Call: (410) 481-7328

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