Porno for Pyros lead singer Perry Farrell, speaking for the rock fest Lollapalooza, which he founded, says the whir and buzz of the computer is "music to our ears." That's why he's taking his show on the Net this year, designating a World Wide Web site as the primary source of official information about the tour as it crosses the country from July 4 to Aug. 18. Last year, Lollapalooza attracted a million rock fans in 30 locations. This year at least that many are expected to show up for acts including Hole, Sinead O'Connor and Sonic Youth. Farrell hopes to put the artists online after each performance. "This is a very real form of communication for us," he says. This summer, fans worldwide will be able to leave messages for their favorite bands and download backstage photographs. Farrell, for one, has an even grander—or more grandiose—vision. "If we keep staring at the computer, one day someone will hypnotize us into universal peace," he says. Wait until Courtney Love logs on.
Roadhouse rocker Joe Ely is getting ready to open his own cybershop this month with a Web site named after his new album, Letter to Laredo. It will include song lyrics, sound clips and playful extras, including a collection of thousands of made-up band names such as Blood Brain Barrier and Buddhist Priest. "I wanted things that people would find fun even if they don't care about my music," he says.
Ely, 47, bought his first computer, an Apple II Plus, in 1981 and taught himself programming with a little help from his friends. By 1983 he knew enough to create the artwork for his album Hi-Res—though it wasn't easy. "You had to do everything manually," he says. "Sometimes I wanted to drag my computer out into the yard and blow it to smithereens with my shotgun." He resisted that impulse and, in 1984, even created his own bulletin board called Campfire Nightmares, run out of his home to promote his music. (He shut it down several years ago when it began to overwhelm him.)
Now, Ely has three CD-ROM projects in the works and is preparing to release his 13th album. But he still saves time for a little late-night Net surfing. "I like the things that real fanatics do," he says. "People put up 400 pages about Godzilla. On the Net at about midnight, it seems like the perfect place for it."
Comedian Margaret Cho could turn out to be the online Lenny Bruce. When she recently appeared as an America Online conference guest, the irreverent Cho, 26, told her audience that it was "nice to be back." She then explained that she had been kicked off the service for repeatedly using obscenities as a regular user, a violation of the AOL membership agreement. Unlike the freewheeling Usenet news groups on the Internet—where anything goes—the commercial online services require users to observe rules of behavior. On Prodigy and AOL, all bulletin board messages are scanned for offensive words. (At Prodigy, the program is named for George Carlin.) CompuServe lets users do the policing. Violators like Cho can be suspended or expelled. Instead, Cho said she has moved on to exploring the Web, where presumably no one worries too much about a few dirty words.