Jane's Addiction and the meaning of the adjective "alternative"

Jane's Addiction and the meaning of the adjective “alternative”

“Señors and ladies, we have more influence on the children you care about, but we will ask them. Created and gifted in Los Angeles, Juana's Addicción”. Then, shortly after, a shout: “Here we go!”
It's the summer of 1990: the decade of rock, the one in which guitars will hit the charts, on the radio and on MTV, has just begun. Marking this new beginning is the release of “Ritual de lo Habitual”, their second album Jane's Addiction and begins with that proclamation, addressed to the parents of what will be called the “alternative generation”.

We know more about your children than you do, and we love them, says the voice that introduces the band “born and raised in Los Angeles”. Jane's Addiction disbanded in 1991, not before having done a farewell tour which coincided with Lollapalooza, the tour invented by leader Perry Farrell. It was Farrell himself who coined the term “alternative rock”, as Luca De Gennaro tells us in his recent book dedicated to the “alternative generation” of '91-'95. 34 years later, we are here again: the band that defined the word “alternative” is back: after the first concert in London, the only Italian date is scheduled for June 14th at La Prima Estate, in Lido di Camaiore

Today we often talk about genres that blend together, to the point of making the very idea of ​​a musical genre useless.

But we must remember that this fusion already occurred in the alternative scene, between the 80s and 90s, and Jane's Addiction were among the first and best to break down musical barriers: their music merged – and merges – guitars and transgressive approach of rock with psychedelia, post-punk, new wave, with a Californian freak approach a thousand miles away from the machismo classicism of fellow citizens Guns 'n Roses. Another band from Los Angeles, in the same years, fused rock with funk, playing Stevie Wonder as if he were a rocker: they were the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who had a more playful approach. Jane's Addiction took everything terribly seriously, however: it was that revolutionary spirit that led Farrell to transform their farewell tour into an opportunity to bring together the rock scene and unite it with other genres: at Lollapalooza they played – over the years – Nine Inch Nails Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, the Smashing Pumpkins, the Beastie Boys and so on and so forth: “Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza” has just been released on Paramount+, a docuseries that tells what that festival was .

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When we saw them 8 years ago they were still the demonstration that “nothing's shocking: the show that on the one hand reproduced the entire “Ritual de lo habitual” to reassure the fans but on the other hand staged non-musical performances on stage that were not exactly reassuring (go read the review of the time) this tour is not the first reunion of Jane's Addiction but it is still particular: there is the whole “classic” lineup surrounded by Dave Navarro, who had been absent in the band's latest releases on stage and with the return of bassist Eric Avery who has been absent since 2010. And there are new songs in the setlist – the first from “The Great Escape Artist”, the group's last studio album dated 2011, which was followed by a single, “Another Soulmate” in 2013 – then nothing more. The first song in ten years is called “Imminent redemption”. Who knows what kind of redemption Jane's Addiction have in mind, probably through music.