Elastica are surprise darlings of the US rock caravan.

pop Lollapalooza, USA
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The Independent Culture
This is the fifth summer that Lollapalooza, the travelling rock festival, has zigzagged across America. Sinead O'Connor dropped out and attendances were down, but the 12-act roster rolled into Los Angeles in good spirits, inspired all the way by organiser Perry Farrell. Looking crazier and skinnier than ever, Farrell popped up on the tiny third stage for a sharp set with Porno for Pyros. He even came out to plug Cypress Hill back in so they could do one more song.

This crowd wasn't your standard American bunch who come in mom's Lexus or a pick-up truck; it was mainly cool white and Latino teen. In a city where security dictates everyone be frisked, stamped, jostled, corralled and counted before they see a band, it is quite an achievement to attract so many weed-smoking members of the Not-Me generation. The young hippies met the control freaks and won.

Things didn't warm up until the sun went down right in Elastica's face. Sinead's English substitutes were the surprise hit, as the Americans warmed to their snappy three-minute, three-chord wonders. In 30 minutes, they transformed themselves into an Alternative band with a capital A. They tore energetically through standards such as "Vaseline", as if it were 1994 all over again. Between songs, frontwoman Frischmann got the balance between humility and humour just right.

During Pavement's set, things got so exciting that the bouncers had to deflate the beach ball floating around the half-empty stalls. On Stage Two, Mike Watts had drawn a huge crowd. He has the looks and vigour of Springsteen, but he can scream in tune for long periods. One to watch.

If weed were legalised tomorrow, Cypress Hill would be out of business. Their set has gone panto, with an inflatable Buddha bearing the leaf and a giant plastic bong rolling by. Stadium rap is still evolving, though - B Real's invitation to "light up" had the stadium twinkling with lighters. But this was party music, people danced, and the whole stadium was primed for Hole.

Courtney Love's ambition and self-obsession have finally made her a star. Normally, there are a few jocks holding up pictures of Kurt and calling her a killer, and she throws things at them; this time, she dragged up a gormless young Bikini Kill fan to humiliate. Things only got weird when, during "Rock Star", Love segued into "Hungry Like the Wolf". See what happens when you hang around with Amanda de Cadanet? Love overran and had to be carried off by a roadie, but the cheers showed she had won. It would have been nice if she'd stayed, since half the crowd upped and headed for the freeway when Sonic Youth's crew began tuning up (or is it down?). In any case, the veteran New York art rockers were a baffling choice for headline act. If Lollapalooza is to continue, it can't afford any more such anti-climaxes.