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Vulture Droppings of the Week: Concert Moments Gone Wrong

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Its Friday! Which means it’s time once again for the weekly video round-up of my favorite pop culture atrocities, misfires and entertaining trainwrecks. This week’s theme: Concert Moments Gone Wrong.

People from all over the country, and possibly the world, will be piling into Chi-town this weekend for Lollapalooza. It’s sure to be the greatest music festival since the original Woodstock (ok, not really, but Lou Reed is going to be there at least). There’s an indescribable feeling of excitement about going to see a good concert. The pumping bass. The angry moshers. The smell of sweat mixed with marijuana smoke. Good times. However, concerts aren’t always joyful celebrations of music, life, love and the pursuit of wristbands. Sometimes things can unexpectedly take a turn for the worse, propelling an ordinary show into the realm of infamy.

1. WOODSTOCK ’99

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In commemoration of its 10th anniversary, let’s take a look back at the disastrous event known as Woodstock ’99. The festival took place in Rome, New York, on July 23-25. It was to be a celebration of peace and music, as the original had been thirty years earlier. The tents were pitched, the ATMs were set into place, and some 200,ooo hooligans showed up to party, with MTV Veejays (remember Ananda?) as their chaperones. The festival had been conceived as a business venture and, boy, a business venture it sure was. There were a dozen corporate sponsors, resulting in a vast array of extremely overpriced crap. One bottle of water (which is, for the record, a necessary component of human survival) would have set you back $4 . The festival grounds also had an inadequate amount of bathroom facilities. Throw in the added discomfort of blistering heat, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for ruination. The facade of a peaceful musical happening crumbled rapidly as people became more dehydrated and worse for the wear. Sure, the acts may have been A-List (Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Sheryl Crow), but the living conditions were grade Z. Those in attendance, from hippies to metalheads, just couldn’t handle their shit and they lost it.

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In an interview with USA Today, MTV correspondent Kurt Loder recalled the negative aura: “It was dangerous to be around. The whole scene was scary. There were just waves of hatred bouncing around the place… it was clear we had to get out of there… it was like a concentration camp. To get in, you get frisked to make sure you’re not bringing in any water or food that would prevent you from buying from their outrageously priced booths. You wallow around in garbage and human waste. There was a palpable mood of anger.” It culminated during the final performance of the festival. The Red Hot Chili Peppers took the stage and, by the time they came out for an encore, fires erupted, looters went amuck, fights broke out, and there were at least four reported rapes. To quote one of the headliners, Elvis Costello: “What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?” When it came to Woodstock ’99, those things weren’t so much funny, as unattainable. Concertgoers weren’t respected by the organizers, and, in turn, the anger of a generation ignited into flames.

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2. CREED, LIVE IN CHICAGO, 2002:

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The next pathetic concert moment involves everyone’s favorite alcoholic Christian, Scott Stapp. As frontman for the band Creed, he became an international star and Jesus spokesman. Altogether, the band has sold over twenty-five million records. Not bad for guy who has a voice more nasally than Steve Urkel. In 2002, when Creed had just gone four times platinum with their album Weathered, the media had started to turn on Stapp for his enormous ego and, well, for his irritating persona as the messiah of rock. It must have gotten to the poor bastard. On December 29, the band took the stage for a sold-out show in Chicago, for which Stapp prepared by slamming a whole lot of booze. I’ll leave the description of what happened next to an anonymous fan who had been there that night (taken from from a the Creed Pit message board): “As soon as Stapp staggered on to stage it was obvious it was going to be bad. He fell down numerous times. Sat down through the majority of the show. Layed flat on his back and could hardly get back up. When he did get up he slammed his mic and took out his ear plugs and pack.” He had forgotten most of his own lyrics and he later told the press that he didn’t have any memory of the debacle. It would only get worse for the troubled singer. Arrests, assaults, a failed solo album and a suicide attempt were on their way. As for that night in Chicago, Stapp has never managed to live it down. To add insult to media-ridiculed injury, a couple of fans thought the show had been so incomparably horrible, that they decided to sue Creed. Now that’s being a good Christian.

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3. JESSICA SIMPSON’S TRIBUTE TO DOLLY, 2006

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Now, to end my exploration of mangled concert performances on a lighter note, I come to Jessica Simpson. In December of 2006, the former reality star took the stage at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to honor her idol, Dolly Parton. She attempted to sing the 1980 hit “Nine to Five”, but her nerves got the best of her. Simpson fidgetted, stumbled on the lyrics, and ended by saying, “So nervous.” When she bolted from the stage after her botched tribute, you could hear crickets, and she was in tears. Simpson actually had to be re-taped singing the song at a later time because the performance had been so uncomfortable and hard to sit through. This seems to be  normal occurrence for the pop star as the second clip makes clear. She rarely makes it through a concert without some kind of meltdown. Maybe Simpson should have stuck to reality TV. At least in that medium she can be edited to appear relatively stable.

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