4 Music Concerts in Argentina Bound for Disaster
Argentina is well-known for its loud, wild and outrageous audience. It is no surprise to hear musicians from different nations referring to Argentinians as “the best crowd in the world”. All in all, if we have to define Argentinians with one word, it has to be “Passionate”. Of course, sometimes too much passion leads to too little logic. It is, in fact, lack of logic, the core issue for the situations that will be mentioned below. Situations where unpredictability turned memorable concerts into unforgettable anecdotes. Here are four concerts in Argentina that, one way or another, were bound for disaster.
We could argue whether or not Argentina has the best audience in the world. That depends on a good variety of reasons. However, there is something irrefutable: Argentinians are the biggest Ramones fans EVER. Seriously.
From 1987 to 1996, The Ramones visited Argentina seven times. “Argentina was our second home” said drummer Marky Ramone once during an interview. However, even at home chaos lurks at every corner.
A huge soda company had a magnificent business idea: If people bring 10 soda caps, we’ll give them two tickets for The Ramones’ concert. Such a deal could have been a fair business campaign, but the multinational corporation didn’t keep their word, and the tickets never arrived at the trade-off centers. Needless to say, they tried to rip off the wrong people.
Riots emerged. Stones and sticks flew from one corner to the other. Shattered glasses, looted markets and angry punk rockers decorated Buenos Aires city on what once was an easy March afternoon.
After police intervention, the corporation (had to) fulfilled their part of the bargain and Ramones fans got their happy ending.
I was made for blowing you up
I mentioned at the beginning of this article that Argentinians are people driven by passion. So passionate that they threaten to blow up an entire arena just because of their radical, nationalistic ideologies? You are goddamned right! The incident took place in 1983. KISS was on its Creatures of the Night Tour, and after a series of not so well sold concerts in the USA and Canada, it seemed appropriate to put those high-heeled feet in Latin America for the very first time to finish the tour. What could possibly go wrong? Well… nothing for Brazil, actually. In fact, the three concerts that took place there were a complete success. For Argentina, the story was different.
A commando group called 2 de Abril stated that they would not hesitate to plant and blow up a bomb if KISS performed. They excused themselves, claiming that KISS were “drug addicts, degenerates and homosexuals” that could corrupt the youngsters. The band decided not to play because, of course, they didn’t want to explode into glamorous pieces. The fans missed the opportunity to see the hottest band in the world, and for the majority, the money paid for the tickets was never returned (welcome to Argentina).
Luckily, during the Revenge Tour in 1994, Argentinians had their revenge (I saw the opportunity and I took it) and finally saw KISS for the first time. The reception was outstanding, so KISS added four more nights to the calendar. Sadly, tragedy was bound to happen. During the first night, two young adults tried to reach a different area of the stadium, but failed and fell towards a pit, leading to their death. The show continued despite the incident.
One may think that Argentina has a kind of curse (and probably has!), especially regarding KISS concerts. It is a fact, however, that the only things that ever exploded during a KISS concert were the fireworks at the end of Rock and Roll all Nite.
Can you imagine Black Sabbath not playing Paranoid during a concert? Bullshit, isn’t it? What if Metallica didn’t perform Enter Sandman? Could that be possible? Of course not! And Nirvana deny to playing Smells like teen spirit? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard in my entire life… but believe it or not, it actually happened.
In October 1992, Nirvana played at the Coca-Cola Rock Festival. An all-female group called Calamity Jane was supposed to be the opening act. I say suppose because, although the band got up on stage, they couldn’t play. Not because of technical issues. Not because of drug or alcohol abuse. Not because of poor sound quality… but because of the audience. As soon as Calamity Jane got out, a horde of angry Argentinians attacked the women by throwing rocks, coins, beer cans, camera batteries, and anything hard enough to hurt. Because the mob was not satisfied, they also intimidated with verbal insults. Needless to say, Calamity Jane got off the stage, but just after destroying their guitars and picking up some coins scattered on the floor. Courtney Love received them with open arms: “Girrrrrlssss, you’ve been fantasticccc!”. The girls couldn’t help but cry. The trauma hit so hard that Calamity Jane dissolved after that night.
Kurt Cobain was enraged. He wanted to cancel the show. The audience didn’t deserve to see Nirvana. However, bassist Krist Novoselic persuaded Kurt to get on stage despite adversity. He accepted, because he came up with a better idea: let’s give Argentinians the show… but give them the most miserable show they’ll ever see in their fucking lives. The setlist had some modifications. Classics were changed with obscure B-sides, so the audience couldn’t know the songs. The ones not removed were played as poorly as possible. The radio hit Smells like teen spirit that the audience was dying to listen to? Kurt played it, but only the very first chords… twice. First, before Breed, then before Drain You. The crowd was being mocked. They were ripping what they had sowed, and they didn’t even notice. The show ended with All apologies, Endless, Nameless and a furious Cobain destroying his guitar.
The spectacle was over. Argentinians saw the first and last Nirvana performance in their country, and most probably, the worst presentation of their entire career.
D’you know where you are…?
During the early 90’s, Guns N’ Roses were one of the most popular groups in the world. The band has always been caught up in polemical situations, and Argentina was not going to be the exception. This time, however, they would be polemic just for existing.
Before the arrival of Guns N’ Roses in the country, rumors spread about Axl Rose burning an Argentinian flag during a performance in Paris. Because, of course, every rockstar loves burning the flag of a country that he barely knows anything about, especially if such a thing occurs in a place with little to no resemblance to that country. What is more, gossip spread about Axl Rose (again) claiming that he would clean all the dirt from his boots before boarding the plane and leaving Argentina. Fake news ran rampant. Carlos Menem, the president of Argentina at that time, said that Guns N’ Roses were “Outlaws”, which is absolutely funny coming from a man who trafficked guns, but that’s a story for another article. Axl was kind enough to sit for a television interview in order to clarify any doubts. When asked about the flag incident, he said: ”I’d rather burn him” referring to the person who had made such a statement. In the end, everything was OK… or so it seemed.
The TV news went to the hotel where Guns N Roses were staying. There, dozens of teenagers were crying and screaming, celebrating the arrival of these Rock N’ Roll idols. Cynthia Tallarico, a sixteen-year old girl, was being interviewed. When the reporter asked what Guns N’ Roses meant to her, she said, without hesitation: “The most important thing… they mean my life”. Cynthia was supposed to be at school at the time of the interview, but of course, she skipped class to meet her heroes. Cynthia’s father saw her on the news, and when Cynthia returned home, he was mad at her. So mad, that he prohibited her from going to the concert. Cynthia could not stand it. She took her father’s gun and shot herself. When the father found his daughter’s corpse lying on the bedroom’s floor, he too, committed suicide with the same revolver. The media went crazy once more. GUNS N’ ROSES CAUSES THE DEATH OF A FAMILY, the news said.
Finally, Guns N’ Roses were able to play. Axl, however, had to call a halt to the concert twice because he was pelted with objects during the performances of Nightrain and You could be mine.
Before landing the plane to return home, Axl had to clean his boots. He had blood there, but it wasn’t his fault.
What a trip! We witnessed riots, bomb threats, hatred, rumors and gossip. Most important, however, is the fact that we got to know a piece of history. A harsh piece, indeed, but reality and human nature is not always enlightened. Of course, one ought to learn from past experiences in order to build a better future. One where there is less violence, and more music.