LOS ANGELES -- In a scene that was as removed from a George Michael performance as you can get, the aggro-rock band Limp Bizkit played their raved-up rendition of the pop singer's hit "Faith" on Monday night during a live video shoot that came complete with muscular metalheads and spastic dance moves.
Meanwhile, the heavily testosteroned crowd took the free show at the Key Club for all it was worth, thrashing about like buffaloes with epilepsy as the band played this and other songs for fans.
The "Faith" cover, which appears on the hard-rock quintet's debut album, Three Dollar Bill, Y'all, will be featured on the upcoming soundtrack to the film "Very Bad Things," starring Cameron Diaz and Christian Slater. Scheduled to hit stores in early November, the soundtrack will precede the Thanksgiving release of the film.
"It's gonna be an awesome video," said Michael Einziger, guitarist for the hard-rock band Incubus, as he stood outside after the shoot. "It's a sexy-body song, and [Limp Bizkit] all have really sexy bodies."
During the shoot, a toned, tattoo-plastered jock stumbled out of the mosh pit at the club with drool hanging from his mouth and his ripped Tool T-shirt saturated with sweat. While walking toward the bar, he began jerking his head in rhythmic thrusts, causing his saliva to fly from his face and splatter on the floor.
"Before this river becomes an ocean, before you throw my heart back on the floor," he shouted along with Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst as they sang the tune.
It wasn't a moment you could have seen 10 years ago, while dance-pop star George Michael performed the hit title-track to his debut solo album, Faith, on his 1988 summer tour. But that was before Michael fell from the charts and more recently was arrested for lewd behavior in a public restroom in Hollywood.
Perhaps newly inspired by Michael's recent run-in with the law and drawn to what they saw as a "cheesy" '80s tune, Limp Bizkit decided to pay tribute to the '80s icon.
Clad in a black T-shirt bearing the film's name, Durst riled the crowd, "This is a motherf---ing video shoot. You all are TV stars now."
Besides Incubus, other attendees at the shoot were members of the thrash-rock band Korn, who watched from the upstairs balcony. (Korn, whose bassist, Fieldy, joined Limp Bizkit onstage at one point, later showed up a few blocks down at Tower Records for an in-store promotion of the fall season's Family Values Tour, which also will feature Limp Bizkit.)
With the cameras rolling, Limp Bizkit warmed up the crowd by playing a mixture of covers, including House of Pain's staple "Jump Around" and the Three Dollar Bill, Y'all track "Counterfeit" (RealAudio excerpt). They closed the mini-show with three runs at "Faith."
After playing the song straight the first time, Durst invited female fans in the crowd to jump up onto the stage, challenging them to get crazier than the males in the crowd. Within seconds, the stage was crammed with modern-metal damsels -- one of whom was in the late stages of pregnancy and yet thrashed around and sang along with Durst with abandon.
"I was humping the bassist," said another fan attending the shooting, Erinn Migliara, 17, afterward. "I would have raped him onstage if they would have let me."
For the last go at "Faith," Durst invited a male fan to sing the song but interrupted his performance before the song was over. "This guy can't sing worth sh--," he said as he pushed the fan back into the pit.
With Wes Borland playing the opening guitar twangs, Limp Bizkit's "Faith" doesn't deviate far from the original dance-pop number until it hits the chorus. At that point, the song shoots off into an almost unrecognizable, full-throttle rage that never loosens again until the song's over.
"It's great -- they put the energy into that song it always needed," said Jaymee Lopez, 16, of L.A.
Other fans didn't agree with the band's choice of "Faith" for the video. "I kind-of rather it be another song," said Ryan Voges, 20, who was wearing a Limp Bizkit T-shirt. "I'd rather they get big off one of their own songs instead of a wimpy pop song."
Earlier this year, Bizkit guitarist Borland said the band got word that Michael is not fond of Limp Bizkit's rendition. "What we've heard from George Michael's people is that he hates it and hates us for doing it," Borland explained. "He apparently really despises it."
Contacted by e-mail, Michael's fans said they weren't thrilled with the cover either.
"At first I thought I was listening to Marilyn Manson!" said Jewel, who runs Michael's G Notes Fanclub. "I'm quite certain some GM fans would be offended, but my opinion is that the cover is totally opposite to George's style and character and that there's really no resemblance whatsoever."