ROME, N.Y. A Woodstock '99 doctor said hundreds of fans suffered trauma injuries during a set by Limp Bizkit here Saturday night (July 24). Tens of thousands of fans were whipped into a violent state by the top-selling band's music and its frontman, Fred Durst.
Glenn Miner, a spokesperson for the New York State Police, said he knew of no serious injuries that occurred during the raucous set that at one point found fans tearing down a tower in front of the stage.
But Dr. Richard Kaskiw, who worked as a volunteer on the medical staff near the east stage, estimated hundreds of audience members suffered trauma injuries. He said he'd treated at least a dozen fans for cracked ribs, spinal injuries and other trauma inflicted in the mosh pits and the crush of the crowd.
"I saw someone getting their leg broken. I got stepped on. I almost went unconscious from being crushed. ... It was the worst thing that happened in my whole life," said Gary Elieff, 14, who was caught in front of the crowd.
Though Elieff escaped serious injury, he was still shaken and on the verge of tears, as he sat in a crisis tent 40 minutes after the end of Limp Bizkit's set.
Caught in a surging, overflowing mass of people, many of whom seemed to be energized into hysteria by the intensity of the primitivist rap-metal music, some crowd members seemed afraid for their lives.
Just before Limp Bizkit took the stage, Rome Mayor Joe Griffo had proclaimed Woodstock "a global peace zone." The festival became anything but that as the Florida band played.
Durst, who recently was named a vice president at Interscope Records, and whose band's new album, Significant Other, debuted for two weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, made little attempt to calm the crowd. Instead, he seemed to incite fans to become increasingly rowdy.
"They asked us to ask you to mellow out too many people are getting hurt out there. Don't hurt anybody, but I don't think you should mellow out. ... This is 1999, motherf---ers stick those Birkenstocks up your ass," he said at the beginning of the set.
The crowd, which was already erupting into frenetic, violent mosh pits not just in the customary position in front of the stage, but all over went a step further when the band played the song "Break Stuff."
"Ever have one of those days when everything's f---ed and you just want to break stuff?" Durst asked the crowd in his introduction. "I want you to reach down and take all that negative energy and let that sh-- out push it the f--- out." A number of crowd members took Durst's advice literally.
Many began to tear long planks of wood from the lighting tower in front of the stage. They then used the wood as makeshift surfboards to ride atop the crowd.
During the set's last song, Durst gave the vandalism his tacit approval, singing the band's cover of George Michael's "Faith" (RealAudio excerpt of Limp Bizkit version) from on top of one of the wooden planks.
Durst recently was charged with assault after he was alleged to have kicked a security guard in the head from onstage at a show in St. Paul, Minn. His lawyer said the singer plans to plead not guilty to the charge.
Following the performance, some crowd members said they weren't upset by the property destruction or the injuries suffered.
"I was having fun until someone stepped on my ankle," said Boston native Mia DePalo, 17, who was being treated at a medical station. "I thought [the vandalism] was kind of cool."
"It was amazing just seeing everybody going f---ing nuts. It was a natural high," Joe Gralville, 22, of Pennsylvania, said.