By EW Staff
July 16, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

Over the past three years, the powers that be at Lollapalooza HQ have turned their annual summertime extravaganza from an experiment in madcap eclecticism into an exercise in surefire formula. The result: Consistency has replaced a sense of adventure. This year’s lineup is neither as diversely inspired as 1991’s groundbreaking group of acts (which included the Butthole Surfers and Ice-T) nor as sheerly exciting as last year’s lucky choices (which maxed out with chart toppers Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers anchoring either end of the day). Instead, Lollapalooza ’93 is competent rather than spine tingling, artistically high caliber but commercially low risk. Are the bands worth seeing? Here are our takes on the Main Stage acts, in order of appearance. All play the entire tour, unless otherwise indicated. RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, a fledgling quartet of pseudo Beastie Boys fronted by singer Zack de la Rocha (right), combines politically fueled raps with generic skate metal. The band could use some originality to go with its spunk- what are steel-toed Doc Martens good for, if not breaking new ground? -but Rage is at least visibly sweating its socks off up there. B-

BABES IN TOYLAND, the all-woman trio from Minneapolis, is out to shock right from the start-and it succeeds, thanks to a disturbing Cindy Sherman- photographed backdrop that portrays a gaping vagina giving birth to a hideous clown. Despite the visual novelty of beautiful girls screaming their lungs raw, the band has a hard time overcoming the crowd’s indifference to its unfamiliar and angry material. The first song of its set, ”Bruise Violet”-in which lead singer-guitarist Kat Bjelland (left) howls to a mortal enemy, ”I hope your insides rot/Liar, liar, liar”-pretty much sums up the band’s powerful but one-dimensional statement (until July 14). C+ TOOL is like Rage Against the Machine, only better-a punky, hard-rock quartet with furious PC lyrics (”Why can we not be sober/Just want to start this over”) and a riveting lead singer, mohawked Maynard James Keenan (right). Tool is currently sending the more intimate and musically adventurous Second Stage audiences into paroxysms of mosh mania. How this intense, melody-free band will fare in front of the larger and more mainstream Main Stage crowd remains to be seen (Second Stage, until July 13. Main Stage, from July 16 until the end of tour). B

FRONT 242 is doing double duty as this year’s token European and industrial act. Although on record the band relies wholly on mechanized keyboard programs, in concert it showcases the impassioned calisthenics of its two Belgian singers (Jean-Luc DeMeyer and Richard JK) and ”live” drumming by temporary 242 member John Dubs. But the thick multilayers of taped backings don’t resonate well in open-air venues. From a distance, it’s difficult to tell whether the music is coming from a band or the between-acts cassette. C-

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT is easily the highlight of Lollapalooza ’93. Combining great musicianship, personal dignity, and an uplifting message, the dual- gender and multigenerational band delivers a mid-concert set that forces even the sun-struck and comatose to groove to its folksy charm. Yes, the inspirational poses of its 60-year-old spiritual adviser, Baba Oje, can border on the pretentious, but that’s a minor quibble. When AD’s in the house, Lollapalooza finally feels like a festival. A+ FISHBONE consistently dwarfs the limitations of its derivative repertoire by the sheer excellence of its musical ability and the funny, upbeat, antic live performance of singer Angelo Moore. The band lifts liberally from cool jazz, soul, and funk, but adds little of its own other than a blunt hard-rock edge and Moore’s personality. Still, songs like ”Swim” and ”End the Reign” keep the crowd roiling in the pit beneath the stage. B