The Rolling Stones with AC/DC , RUSH , JUstin Timberlake , the Isley Brothers , the Guess WHo , the Flaming LIPS , La Chicane , SAM ROBERTS , Kathleen Edwards , DAn Aykroyd & Jim Belushi , BLUE RODEO and the TEA PARTY at Downsview Park, July 30. Tickets: $21.50. Attendance: 500,000. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
within five minutes of entering the Downsview Park gate it was clear that choosing not to take Hunter S. Thompson's gonzo approach to covering SARSstock was the right decision. I'm not claustrophobic at all - I even like big crowds - but this scene was intense to take in even stone cold sober, and it was only 2 pm.
Simple actions like buying a hamburger or finding the city of outhouses required at least 30 minutes to perform, if not longer. Some frustrated spectators started losing their tempers what with all the people pressed up against them, while others all around passed out from the heat. By the time Justin Timberlake went on, it felt like the crowd was about to riot.
Apart from a few bottles tossed at the stage, nothing horrible happened, so all we were left with was a really big, well-behaved, middle-of-the-road concert.
It was gratifying to watch the Flaming Lips play to that many people, and even better to see them pull it off like pros. Partly, they succeeded because they were one of the few bands whose stage show made good use of the jumbotron screens, but also because they sounded better-rehearsed than some of the headliners.
Somehow, I made my way up to the very front for AC/DC and the Rolling Stones , but found myself turning to watch the giant screens instead of the stage. Without question, AC/DC stole the show and probably won many new fans with their balls-out attitude. The Stones, on the other hand, were surprisingly sloppy, and while they more than satisfied the fans in the audience (myself included), they sounded like they were going to fall apart several times during their set.
The strangest thing about the whole experience is that those who stayed home and watched it on TV saw more of what was happening than most of us in Downsview. It was physically impossible not to miss at least a few acts, since all the facilities were far away from any speakers. It felt like 10 hours waiting in line for anything, not really the memory organizers hoped we'd come away with.
It was nice to see the police being helpful and turning a blind eye to the pot-smoking. We all now wish we'd brought more. The system of buying tickets for food initially seemed annoying but proved quicker than it looked. Despite numerous attempts, I never did get any beer. So Molson has no reason to whine about not making enough money - it's their own fault for making it so hard to get. Fortunately, I never had to wait in line for a port-o-potty, and they were reasonably clean every time. And amazingly enough, the subway ride home was quick, and free! Who would have guessed?
It's still hard to say if the whole thing was more pleasurable than torturous, yet it was definitely memorable. Just not something you'd ever want to experience again. firstname.lastname@example.org