A Backstage Jam Session with Jane's Addiction
In some ways, getting backstage at Gexa Energy Pavilion is a letdown. Semi-trucks that carry the bands' stage lighting and equipment hummed a familiar chorus, and several tour buses formed a barricade that left an opened area in the center where a small group of people conversed and smoked cigarettes.
No wild, naked ladies streaking across the parking lot. No shady-looking drug dealers regurgitating heroin balloons. No crazed rock stars screaming obscenities at invisible people. It felt like standing in a Walmart parking lot with a bunch of workers waiting for their band's performance time. But that's not why we're here.
Jane's Addiction hosts special "Jam Room Session," where they allow contest winners, VIP ticket purchasers, friends and friends of friends to the see Perry Farrell (vocals), Dave Navarro (guitars), Chris Chaney (bass) and Stephen Perkins (drums) backstage, playing in a small room with no frills and no barriers.
Formed in Los Angeles in 1985, Jane's Addiction has brought fans not only such hits as "Jane Says," "Stop!" and "Just Because" but also the first "alternative" summer festival when the band first said their goodbyes in 1991, leaving fans of the "Alternative Nation" - Farrell's term for his beloved indie followers - with a hole that only an event like Lollapalooza could fill.
As their handlers rushed to rouse Farrell, two thoughts kept echoing like thunder riding the wind: "Don't speak to the band" and "No photos." Wearing a yellow wrist band with the words "ESCORT NEEDED" in bold lettering clearly indicated to everyone there that outsiders were in their midst. Eyes shifted, heads turned. Band members who may have been enjoying rock star festivities behind the stage mysteriously disappeared, leaving only a faint familiar smell in their passing.
It's 10 minutes before 8:00 p.m. as we make our way to the building that houses the rock stars. It looks like my old high school fieldhouse. It's even painted the same horrible grey color. Several signs indicating who is housed where were hanging above the doors. "Farrell and his dancers" sounded the most appealing.
This year, 97.1 the Eagle didn't pick up the contest to give listeners a chance to be one of the chosen few to watch Jane's Addiction's special backstage performance. So only four of us awaited entry into the sacred room.
Five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes later and the four of us were still making small talk with one of the handlers, whose job was to make sure we stayed in our allotted area. It's been 25 years since the release of band's groundbreaking major-label debut Nothing Shocking, and one can only hope the band still performs at the same level, especially after Navarro's bout with chemical addiction.