Even with all the ink given to Ontario Attorney General Jim Flaherty's futile bid to keep Eminem out of the country for his misogynistic rants, the negative press didn't translate into the overwhelming ticket sales that Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst had anticipated.
While Xzibit was finishing up his 15-minute commercial plug for his forthcoming album, the box office was still unloading $65 seats to saggy-trousered teens in backwards red ball caps as scalpers grimaced.
Papa Roach thoughtfully kept their pop metal bluster brief to make way for star attraction Eminem, who made his entrance from beneath the stage, brandishing a chainsaw before a mock-up of his Detroit home.
Seconds later, the whiny rapper was tearing into his contentious murder fantasy Kill You with zealous defiance. "Bet you thought I wasn't gonna do that song tonight, didn't you?" he sneered to gleeful cheers.
The attempted banning only enhanced Eminem's outlaw rep, and he played it up big, making frequent references to his legal battles. To further bait watchdogs, he glugged a (supposed) bottle of rum, chuckling, "I'm gonna drink myself to death. You can try this at home and be just like me," then brazenly popped a handful of pills he claimed were ecstasy. The kids ate it up.
Likewise, the weedy-voiced Durst recognizes the limitations of his singing and rhyming skills and knows that much of Limp Bizkit's appeal lies in their rule-flouting "bad boy" image. So he began by inviting everyone in reserved seating to come down front and warned the security guards not to stop anyone.
Having adopted the mantle of spokesman for disenfranchised youth, Durst salted his set with grandstanding proclamations like "I'll give a fuck about you when you give a fuck about my generation," with all the righteous indignation a 30-something millionaire rock star could summon.
Lasers flashed, flames raged and things continuously blew up to hide the fact that Durst and company had little more to say than "Fuck you." The one genuinely entertaining moment occurred near the show's end when the DAT cut out in the middle of Get Your Groove On, leaving Durst unknowingly lip-synching in silence for a few hilarious seconds. Oops.
LIMP BIZKIT, with EMINEM, PAPA ROACH and XZIBIT, at Skydome, October 26. Tickets: $29 and $59. Attendance: 24,000. Rating: NN