05/30/2000

NO RAVES FROM POLICE AT FOXBOROUGH ROCK EVENT

The Boston Globe (FOXBOROUGH) -- For anyone unfamiliar with alternative-rock festivals, Saturday's WBCN River Rave must have been an eye-opener. Bands played at jolting volumes and howled their displeasure with life, dozens of women bared their breasts on the video screens, the police became nervous, and the sponsoring radio station thought all was fine and dandy.Not all was fine and dandy, however, at this 12-hour event, since the combined arrests of the Foxborough Police Department and State Police totaled 126 - breaking the venue record of 90 set at a Grateful Dead show in the late 1980s. The arrests ranged from drug offenses to trespassing (youths who were ejected and tried to get back in) and disorderly conduct cases. And injuries included several broken noses from moshing, as well as head and ankle injuries, though nothing life-threatening. This has become business as usual at many alt-rock festivals, keyed by Woodstock ྟ, which featured a pay-per-view broadcast of bare breasts by the hundreds and, ultimately, destruction of property when vandals rioted at the end, setting fire to a sound tower and several tractor-trailers. The only damage on Saturday was to a camera crane ripped down by youths near the front of the Foxboro Stadium stage. But tensions were riding high, especially when thousands of youths rushed over barricades from the loge to the field during Godsmack's late afternoon set. Several youths reported being pepper-sprayed near the sound tower, but no one could pinpoint who did it and police denied they used the spray.Godsmack singer Sully Erna jumped into the audience and did some crowd-surfing at this point, but had his shoes ripped off in the process. "You're . . . thieves!" he said, trying to laugh when he got back on stage.Rumors swirled that the State Police thought of storming the stadium during the barricade-crashing moment. But Lieutenant Paul Maloney said yesterday that eight horse-mounted officers gathered at the north entrance ramp just to clear the ramp so concertgoers caught in any potential crush on the field could leave "to relieve the pressure."The frequent display of breasts on the video screens was a prime source of controversy. It is common at many alt-rock shows today - as anyone knows who has seen Kid Rock at Tsongas Arena in Lowell or Korn and Limp Bizkit at the Worcester Centrum Centre. The precedent for video photographers to bait women in the audience dates back to Guns N' Roses arena shows in the ྌs, but Saturday's River Rave was different because captions were shown on the screens urging women to "give us a look." And between the last sets of Stone Temple Pilots and Cypress Hill, a compilation video was shown of the many breasts flashed during the event.At one point, WBZ-TV sportscaster Bob Lobel took the stage with WBCN's Nik Carter, who encouraged women in the house to flash Lobel. There was a high compliance rate. That was just one of the many topless scenes beamed to the crowd on the giant screens throughout the day, captioned with lines like "We've got to see these.""It's all part of it," WBCN program director Oedipus said backstage when asked about the video footage. Neither he nor any other station spokesman could be reached for comment yesterday.Foxborough Police Chief Edward O'Leary said yesterday that while he knew the crowd at River Rave would be young, he didn't anticipate some of the problems that occurred."I was disappointed in the behavior of the crowd," he said. O'Leary pointed specifically to the rushing of the field during Godsmack's set and the behavior of the cameramen, who were encouraging women to bare their chests. "Certainly, I did not anticipate the video sideshow," he said.When Guns N' Roses played the stadium in 1992, O'Leary said, the crowd was also being encouraged to "disrobe." And while he said he didn't condone it, it did help distract a crowd that was angry at lead singer Axl Rose for being late.At Saturday's concert, he said, "it encouraged them to be agitated."For the upcoming Metallica show on June 30, O'Leary said he would "have to go back to the drawing board" on event security.Kevin Weinfeld, chairman of the Foxborough Board of Selectmen, said that while he wasn't up to speed on what happened at the River Rave, he would be concerned if cameramen had urged women to take their shirts off."I would not be pleased for people to be encouraging public sexual behavior by anyone," he said. If that turned out to be the case, he said, he would "certainly express my displeasure."Weinfeld added that if these kind of events are well organized and kept under control, they are permissible. "If they get out of hand, then we would have to review whether these types of concert events are appropriate," he said.The selectman noted that if the problems reported at Saturday's concert prove to be a real issue, the town would have to have "serious conversations" with stadium officials and would take a "very serious look at not licensing these events in the future." That would be a major blow to WBCN, which hopes to hold the River Rave there next year - part of a growing trend of major stations to hold radio-sponsored shows in stadiums. The trend was started by WBCN's sister station, WHFS in Washington, D.C., which has held events at RFK Stadium.No Foxboro Stadium officials returned phone calls yesterday.The only female-led band during the day was Heidi, which played at the smaller B stage next to the stadium. The group features WBCN DJ Juanita (real name Janet Egan), who said in the VIP tent later, "I'm sure some people mistake us for groupies backstage." Such is life at male-dominated events like these.As for any crowd tensions, God smack's Erna explained them this way: "These kids have to listen to people tell them what to do at school, and listen to their parents. So the music is a way to say [expletive] to all of that, and to get out their aggressions. They're not trying to punch each other in the face. They're just trying to have fun."The fans got their money's worth (tickets were a reasonable $35, a bargain compared to the overpriced classic-rock shows of this summer) and the focus on scream-venting male bands didn't bother at least one female fan, Ashlin Bolton, 18, of Arlington."I don't like a lot of the girl bands today," she said. "Many girl bands are just too poppy, like Britney Spears. If I wanted to see that, I'd go to the KISS Concert."
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