D.C. Diary: Music and mayhem

September 25, 1999
RFK Stadium
12:30 p.m.

The musical talent on stage at any large concert can turn into a sideshow when compared to the goings-on off the stage.

The HFStival, a concert sponsored by local radio station 99.1 WHFS, featured some of the biggest alternative acts around – like Bush, Limp Bizkit and 311.

But pack nearly 70,000 people into RFK Stadium, and the crowd and everything else becomes just as entertaining as the music. The “big concert” for our generation is the modern-day equivalent of the carnival, complete with funnel cakes, games and other attractions. Here’s a run-down of what a big concert is like, off stage:

“We want acid”

One of the first things I saw just outside of RFK was a group of teenagers holding a makeshift sign with those three words scrawled in black marker. The five people were holding each other up, staggering along the pavement, so I wasn’t sure if they had already found it or if they were already under the influence of some other substance.

Underwear as outerwear

At the big concert, it is apparently acceptable for women to wear bras in the open. Not bikini tops. Bras. Of course, they took their bras off when they flashed their breasts for the drunken men urging them to do so.

And on a related topic, one guy was wearing Smurf pajama bottoms. This was quite disturbing, since I remembered having bed sheets with the same pattern as a toddler.

“Only $3”

Signs abounded in and around the stadium advertising bottles of water for “Only $3.” You might expect to get a mammoth bottle of water for that price, but no. It’s pretty small. Obviously vendors at a big concert can afford to charge that much because they have a monopoly on the market. But the addition of “only” is really demeaning to the intelligence of our generation.

That seems like a good idea

However, I ended up constantly questioning the common sense of some people at the concert. Many thought it would be a good idea to heave full bottles of water and CDs into the air so they would hit other people in the crowd.

And at least once an hour, my girlfriend pointed out someone who was bloodily retreating from a mosh pit, victim of a hurled object or some other violence.

Blow-up toys

I passed by one 20-something guy lying on the ground twice, and both times he was passed out, holding on to an inflatable woman.

Someone also brought an inflatable penis to the concert. People were passing it around and signing it.

Limp Bizkit fans

I lost count of the number of girls obsessed with the final act of the HFStival, Limp Bizkit. When lead singer Fred Durst came out to introduce Run D.M.C., my ears were starting to hurt from the girls’ endless shrieking. Paying homage to the band’s hit single “Nookie,” many girls had the word written on their stomachs.

Good night

As I climbed the steps to leave the HFStival, people sitting at the exit told people passing by, “Hey, we hope you have a good night.” They sounded very sincere. In front of us, the group answered, “Oh, we will. And you have a really good night, too.” After everything I had seen and heard, seeing this level of civility was quite surreal.

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