Rock in Rio: Back after a decade, and there to party
After ten years of absence from the city where it was originated, the festival Rock in Rio comes back to its roots next week. The internationalization of the festival deprived Rio de Janeiro of music festivals for years; but now, the music is back full throttle.
The first edition of the festival in 1985 was the first of its kind in the country; the scale of the event alone was unprecedented, let alone the legendary line up that was arranged. Queen, Rod Stewart and AC/DC were only a few of the big names that honoured the stage.
A 250,000 m2 area had been converted into a complex that was baptized “City of Rock”, containing severalfood and shopping areas. Besides containing the biggest stage ever built in the world at the time, the structure attracted 1.38 million music lovers.
The military dictatorship had restricted musicians in the previous years because many songs were being used to protest the oppressive government. Many musicians and artists had been exiled from the country at that point, but 1985 was a good year for culture; the dictatorship was ending and the largest festival the country had ever seen was being planned.
A new president was voted in on the same week of the festival and tensions were very high. Many Brazilian bands were booed off the stage; the public was feeling anything but patriotic and they wanted to see the international bands they thought they would never get to see play live. The music was uplifting to the people who had just been freed from a confining government and the historical start up was enough to make the festival legendary.
Six years later, Rock in Rio made a comeback in the famous Maracanã football stadium. No one was quite ready for all the mud and the audience was considerably smaller, consisting of 700 thousand people. Guns ‘n’ Roses was the biggest attraction, playing previously unheard songs that were later released in their album Use Your Illusion. Band leader and singer Axl Rose later described the festival as “one of their best performances of all time”.
Rock in Rio only returned ten years later in 2001, when pop music was at its high. Britney Spears, Iron Maiden, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and REM were some of the great attractions of the festival that year. Britney Spears, being watched by 250,000 people, was booed when showing off an American flag during her performance of the song Lucky and criticized for not actually singing her songs onstage.
Inconsistent as it was, the creator of the festival, Roberto Medina, decided to take the brand abroad in 2004; the editions of Rock in Rio that followed took place in Lisbon and Madrid. Ludicrously, the name of the festival was kept – even though it obviously was not in Rio de Janeiro, but in Europe – and ten years went by without the festival coming home.
For a long time, Rio’s infrastructure was too fragile and its streets too dangerous for events of such calibre but the festival is back this Friday and it seem that the organization is in tiptop shape.
The new City of Rock complex has three stages to welcome artists from all over the world. The festival expects to receive 100,000 people per day by bus, as it doesn’t have any space for parking. A Street of Rock was built for street artists to entertain visitors and many attractions are planned for the day like magicians and card readers. The complex also has a shopping area and many fast food restaurants; 2,5 tons of food are expected to be sold each day. An entertainment park that has a roller coaster and a ferris wheel tops the complex off in style – even with Elton John topping the bill.
The festival left the country to become an internationalized brand and didn’t come back for ten years due to the lack of infrastructure and security of the city. However the city has been going through a new security plan to make it safe for the upcoming World Cup and Olympic games; this is all the festival’s creator needed. What was missing in these ten years was a safe way to gather 100 thousand people in one place safely.
Rock in Rio is still lifting the spirits of Brazilians; the city’s success in controlling the drug mafia and containing violence is what brought the festival back and it is being seen as a training wheels event by many before full confidence is given to the organization of the World Cup and Olympic games. If it all goes well, this might be a new era for Rio – and maybe the festival will stick around this time around.Tagged in: Brazil, festival, Maracanã football stadium, music, Rio de Janeiro, rock in rio
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