Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Chicks on Speed Bottled

No, I don't mean that you can enjoy now Chicks on Speed in liquid form, but that on their recent Amsterdam and UK gigs as the supporters of Red Hot Chili Peppers, they received boos and bottles hurled at them by
thousands of enraged RHCP fans.

From NME.com:

"The day got off to a stormy start when support band Chicks on Speed were bottled by a hostile crowd.

Halfway through the song 'Mind Your Own Business', singer Alex Murray-Leslie pleaded with the fans to stop throwing bottles at the band.

Before the group left the stage, Murray-Leslie said: 'We don't like having bottles thrown at us.'"

I was shocked and disgusted to read from the CoS Records Guestbook among tons of illiterate hatred-filled "You suck" messages, how some of the RHCP "fans" even applauded these bottle throwers who had managed to hit the Chicks in the head. I don't know the details of what happened here, but obviously there was a lot of anger and hatred directed towards CoS, and the whole situation must have been ugly (if not dangerous) for Alex, Kiki and Ann Shenton of Large Number (who was there for Melissa, who couldn't make the RHCP gigs because of health problems).

Did they feel proud of themselves bottling these three girls on stage? From what I've read about these gigs, it clearly was not a concert crowd, it was a lynch mob. Now, I don't know if these were plastic bottles or glass ones, but in the case of the latter, what if one of these bottles would have hit its target lethally? How would it have felt to have become from a concert-goer to a murderer?

I can't help seeing this as some sort of a symbolic stoning of witches posing a threat to rock'n'roll's male hierachy of playing guitars ('We Don't Play Guitars' is one of the CoS songs), and as a punishment for attacking the macho values of your typical male yobbo jock rock. Rock'n'roll is at the moment one of the most conservative music forms in the world, and Chicks on Speed have always declared being "a fake band", more a prankish and conceptual art/performance project than your usual rock act. It's easy to see why they don't fit to this whole corporate rock'n'roll brouhaha.

I know Chicks on Speed is not for everyone's tastes, but I have supported them nearly from the beginning, enjoying their whole art prank attitude of being not afraid to be spontaneous in their ideas, concepts and how to carry those out (if sometimes that approach must risk being hit-or-miss). Having followed their career I also know that there's a certain ambivalence; like they haven't decided if they want to be a "difficult" art project with social and feminist overtones etc., who just happens to release music as one of their activities, or a heavily touring chart pop act. Personally I'd like to see them concentrating their efforts in the former, but in the end it's up to these Chicks to decide "what they'll do when they grow up". One thing that is sure, though, is that they do not fit in to this world of calculated, corporate pop and rock and stadiums and fanboys and bullshit that easily.

Talking about the security, in the more civilized rock venues patrons are totally banned from taking glass bottles in: you can only carry your bewerages (if allowed at all) in plastic bottles. Was this the case at these RHCP concerts?

In the end, the responsibility for the performers' security goes to the concert venue's organisation, but also the main act of the bill and their own management must share that responsibility by insisting for their concerts such security-enhancing measures as riot gates, ban on glass bottles or anything else that can be used as weapons or to threaten the safety of the performers and other crowd members.

Finally, my prediction is that we are yet to see a major outburst of violence at stadium rock concerts, similar to what have jarred football games for decades. Altamont revisited...

Some pictures from the Hyde Park gig