A Gathering of the Tribes
A Gathering of the Tribes was a two-day music and culture festival in October 1990 organized by The Cult's Ian Astbury and promoter Bill Graham. It is considered the precursor to the Lollapalooza touring festivals of the 1990s, an opinion shared by Astbury himself. The festival was held at the Shoreline Amphitheatre Mountain View and the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa on October 6 and 7, 1990. The artists featured were Soundgarden, Ice-T, Indigo Girls, Queen Latifah, Joan Baez, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, The Charlatans UK, The Cramps, The Mission U.k. and Public Enemy.
The event was intended to raise money for and awareness of Native-American-related causes. Tribal Native American blessings were performed from the stage at the start each day's of music.
"All bands performed notably well, and the interesting blend of hard rock and rap acts did not detract from the crowd's pleasure. Public Enemy played a solid set, and brought up crowd members who were duly shown how to "chill" onstage as the predictable musical madness ensued. Indigo Girls delivered strong and touching acoustic harmonies. Steve Jones' band kicked out the jams with a respectable rock set. Queen Latifah and her band and backup singers did an excellent job, and you had the feeling she was headed for bigger things. Ice-T played a crushing mix of rap and rock from his recent and very controversial album "Cop Killer." The Cramps possibly stole the show with an amazing show of Lux Interior diving all over the stage like a possessed go-go dancer, in high heels, leather pants and shure microphone sticking out of his mouth half the time, while his lovely wife Poison Ivy and band pounded out a steady beat. And of course Iggy Pop himself took to the stage at the close of the show to deliver the coup de grace to a wonderful day of music." (a fan's impressions.)
(Due to previous violence at Public Enemy concerts, Public Enemy did not appear on the bill for the first concert in Mountain View. Lenny Kravitz, also on the bill, did not perform that day.)
While both concerts were sold out, Astbury lost around $50,000 of his own money on the festival.
LSD, mushroom and marijuana use was commonplace in the crowd at the Mountain View concert, though the crowd was considerably more orderly at the Costa Mesa gig.
Astbury was inspired to start A Gathering of the Tribes after having dinner with a Native American man whom he met in North Dakota while on a 1989 tour with Metallica. The man told Astbury that he was planning to study resource management at college in order to help purify his tribe's drinking water, then asked Astbury what he was doing for his community. Astbury had no answer for the man, then began to think about running a music festival.