SAN DIEGO — Injuries plagued the 22nd annual Street Scene over the weekend, with 15 fans rushed to the hospital during Tool’s festival-closing set and My Chemical Romance canceling their performance because two members were hurt prior to the event. None of the audience injuries appeared life threatening, according to officials, but several fans were taken away on stretchers after concertgoers rushed toward the stage at the start of Tool’s show.
“Step back so you don’t get trampled,” Tool singer Maynard James Keenan said after the second song. “It’s just rock.”
The singer later consulted with a city official onstage and continually addressed the crowd, which seemed to answer his pleas to move back as the show carried on as scheduled.
My Chemical Romance, one of the most anticipated acts on the bill — and one of the few headliners who did not also perform at that other Southern California festival back in April (see “Madonna, Kanye Just Add To Coachella’s Eclectic Atmosphere” ) — blamed their no-show on “unforeseen circumstances” via their Web site, although their publicist released a statement Saturday citing unspecified injuries to two members sustained on Thursday.
“The guys did all they could, including traveling to San Diego and attempting to rehearse against doctor’s orders, however, when the injuries proved to painful to play, they decided not to push it any further,” the statement read. “The band will return to San Diego in the near future, and they send their sincerest apologies to the fans that came out to see them.” Details of the injuries have not been released.
Also highly anticipated but absent was rapper Lupe Fiasco. A spokesperson for Street Scene said he was involved in a car accident, but Fiasco did turn up in Chicago at the weekend’s other big festival, Lollapalooza.
With My Chem out, promoters filled their Zarabanda Stage slot with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and bumped Bloc Party up to the headliners of the Time Warner Stage.(Check out photos of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, AFI, Kanye West and more performing at the festival.)
“We’ve opened for Tool before, at Coachella, so we’re pros,” Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner joked backstage. “We’ve met [Keenan], seems like a nice guy.”
Only a few injuries were reported Friday, but the crowd at the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot did appear more aggressive than in years past. At the Time Warner Stage, for instance, a mosh pit broke out during dance-rockers She Wants Revenge’s show, which seemed to perplex singer Justin Warfield, who mocked one of the instigators (dubbed “Green Shirt”) throughout their set.
“I prefer to bump up next to girls instead of a bunch of guys, but whatever,” joked Warfield, whose self-described “weird mood” made for entertaining banter. (The band looked and sounded much more seasoned than at Coachella).
Still, the moshers only multiplied when Wolfmother followed, with a 40-foot oval forming in front of the stage. “It was like a football field, people were just running into each other,” Wolfmother singer Andrew Stockdale said backstage after the set. “It was pretty energetic today. The crowd can feel it when you’re really getting into it.”
Elsewhere Friday, Kanye West followed a rather chaotic set from the reunited Wu-Tang Clan with a show that he admitted didn’t really gain momentum until midway through. Fans of Kanye’s personality — and aren’t we all? — still were entertained, however, as he spent the first half complaining about his new lighting guy (“You must not have studied your notes”), guiding his DJ through an oral history of his work as a producer and boasting about his in-the-works album, Graduation.
Kanye said he wasn’t allowed to play any of the new music, but he rapped a cappella what seemed to be an entire song, calling himself “Gnarls Barkley mixed with Charles Barkley.” “How am I supposed to stand out now when everybody get dressed up,” he rapped later. “At the Grammys that tuxedo might’ve been a little Guido/ But with my ego/ I could stand there in a Speedo.”
West also announced he’s 80 percent done with another project. “I can’t say who it is, but you all know.” (Could Jay-Z be coming out of retirement?)
As West was probably saying too much, AFI were letting their music do the talking on the Captain Morgan Stage across the lot (which covered 2.5 million square feet). Dressed in all white — aside from singer Davey Havoc’s black suspenders — the band delivered older hits first (playing “Girl’s Not Grey” and “The Leaving Song, Pt. 2″ back-to-back) before digging into tracks from this year’s Decemberunderground.
While Friday was mostly about the familiar (Queens of the Stone Age and Bad Religion also delivered hit-stacked sets), Saturday promised to be more about previewing new stuff. And Tapes ’n Tapes, the Shins and Bloc Party all delivered, debuting material from their upcoming albums.
Bloc Party even opened with a new track and also proved to be one of the more supportive bands, arriving early and watching British peers in the Editors and the Futureheads from the side of the stage.
“We’re used to festivals being on grass, but whatever, it feels more American,” bassist Gordon Moakes joked backstage. “We have the biggest trailer we’ve ever had, so that’s the important thing.”
Other highlights Saturday included Snoop Dogg’s decidedly old-school set, the Subways’ raucous stage-destroying show, the New York Dolls’ hazy stroll down memory lane and G. Love’s groovy, perfect-for-a-sunset — even if said sun is setting behind an Ikea — hour.
For its second year at Qualcomm, Street Scene — which attracted 70,000 between the two days — added two more intimate stages. That’s where a more adventurous audience could learn that What Made Milwaukee Famous are actually from Austin, Texas, while the lineup of West Indian Girl does include a girl, singer Mariqueen Maandig. Got that?
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.