one dollar bill all-dayer

6 09 2003

Finsbury Park 06.09.03

Don’t fancy paying forty quid to go and watch some yank nu-metal behemoths “fuck shit up” in some “arena” about the size of an aircraft-hangar (with about the same amount of charm)? No. OK then, how about a mini-festival affair in North London – for free?

Sounds good to me. Limp Bizkit may not be to everyone’s taste – or anyone over sixteen, but they are consummate entertainers, and besides, big dumb angst-metal yank-rock (not quite rap, not quite rock enough) can sometimes be fun. It’s certainly a big day for the hordes of mini-moshers ambling about. While it’s heartening to see today’s kids on the righteous path of rock’n’roll rather than the demon dance, it’s worrying to see the High Streetisation of this rock chic thing. Let’s hope they grow into it, not out of it.

The first band to bound onstage are ThisGirl, who jump about and make an entertaining Rival Schools-style rock/punk racket to widespread indifference, apart from the odd bit of bottle-throwing (this is a day of rock, after all). Next on are Biffy Clyro, who make a raging, swirling noise but look a bit small on stage. The chants of “Biffy Biffy” demonstrate their fans fierce loyalty, and they’ve probably made a few more today with a solid performance.

Obviously this being a Carling Live event, there’s no point asking if they’ve got anything Belgian in the beer tent, and there’s a similar lack of diversity in the big-shorts-wearing line-up, with the glorious exception of the mighty Cooper Temple Clause. Theirs is a darker, indie-er noise, making them an odd choice for today, but an inspired one. Latest single ‘Promises Promises’ rocks ragged, the new material sounding just as great as older songs like ‘Filmmaker’ and ‘Panzer Attack.’

A arrive next, riding the crest of their latest stab at the big time with new single ‘Good Time’, off the Nokia music phone ad with the monkey man falling off a stage. The two new songs played are more sample-laced melodic punkery, a short step from the assured writing of ‘Starbucks,’ and other tracks from last LP ‘Hi-Fi Serious.’ ‘I Love Lake Tahoe’ is, as ever, a bounce-along highlight, but somehow the set seems too brisk a run-through. Extra rock points though for accidentally setting fire to their equipment.

After that it’s just the Bizkit to go. The other bands seemed to struggle to get the attention of many of those here today, who seemed more interested in buying chucklesome T-shirts (you know, the ones showing slightly altered corporate logos with something humorous written underneath), getting temporary tribal tattoos or following the bottle-fight between the annoyingly cordoned-off moshpit and the rest of the crowd. But when Limp Bizkit arrive, they’re the centre of attention. And they know what they’re doing too. This show has everything. Frontman Fred Durst disappears into the crowd for a slow number, hauls some kids up on stage for a dance, says “fuck” a lot. Pyrotechnics flame spectacularly, especially when they blast out the Mission: Impossible riff from ‘Take a Look Around.’ There’s big riffs coupled with simple cathartic shout-alongs like ‘Break Stuff’ (“If my day keeps going this way I just might/BREAK YOUR MOTHERFUCKING FACE TONIGHT!/Give me stuff to break!”). Yep, this show has everything, including a massive sense of self-importance, and more front than Blackpool – how else can you explain the thefts from other bands, a whole chorus nicked off Nine Inch Nails, a song called ‘Nevermind,’ even the staggering ego of taking the most recognisable TV theme tune ever and turning it into a song about your own ‘problems.’ Only a Bizkit as spunky as Fred Durst could pull it off. So, great entertainment, then. All they need now is a few more actual decent tunes to sustain a slot like this.

Because therein lies the Bizkit-brand weakness. Seasoned professionals that they are, they milk every song for all its worth, with several breakdowns, and massive gaps between each song, yet this only highlights the lack of great tunes that makes similar shows so satisfying (like the all-singing all-dancing Green Day punk rock cabaret extravaganza). As much unpretentious fun as ‘My Way or the Highway’ and ‘My Generation’ are, Limp’s ‘Faith’ cover and ‘Take a Look Around’ are still among their best songs. And that’s most of the singles. The album tracks, like the bollocks ‘Full Nelson’, and the slow song (‘Nevermind’) all seem like timefillers – which makes the omission of chart-topper ‘Rollin” especially frustrating. Of the new stuff, ‘Eat You Alive’ is pretty samey but ‘Results May Vary’ sounds quite good, with a more textured guitar part instead of the usual choppy riffage.

In actual fact, this show isn’t even as good (or as full) as the mid-afternoon stormer they played at Reading three whole years back, suggesting that Limp Bizkit may have inflated themselves into the role of stadium metal gods on the basis of time at the top rather than having the songs to back it up. But then there’s twenty thousand metal kids here (and plenty more around the world) who’d probably disagree. I guess I’m just fucked-up.

This review first appeared on uelsu.net. I went to this with my friends Dan and Patrick. Like most of the kids there, we spent the majority of the day waiting for something to happen, and going to the beer tent in a shift pattern. Highlights of the day were the ma-hu-ssive bottle fight between the pen and the rest of the field. The pen was a huge enclosure at the front. If you arrived early enough you got a wristband and were entitled to wander in and out of the pen as you pleased. Except every little bastard got their wristband and buggered off, so the pen was never more than half full for the majority of the day and thousands of people were stuck way back from the stage.

That is until the game of dodge the security guards starting. To play, you waited for one daring soul to hop the barrier. Then, when all the security guards ran after them, you and your mates hop the barrier in the gaps left. Me and Dan played. We fought the law!

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