By Kim Dumo and Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporters
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The 2011 Rock in Rio music festival is finally here, and concertgoers are storming the Cidade do Rock (City of Rock) in Barra de Tijuca. The festival has been a long awaited event in Rio, and the first weekend was a roaring success, with almost 250,000 music-mad fans packed around the stage to see some of the biggest names in Brazilian and world music.
Friday night was “Pop Night,” with Katy Perry, Elton John, and Rihanna, with Brazilian singer Claudia Leite opening. Their night was followed on Saturday with an excellent performance by rock veterans Red Hot Chilli Peppers, with Metallica the main attraction on Sunday.
Another Sunday performance that blew some gaskets was Motörhead, who belted out their song “Going to Brazil” to the ecstatic audience. Mike Smith, an American living in Rio commented: “I was watching from home on Multishow’s live coverage, and thought ‘this is what Rock in Rio should be’ – real heavy metal rock n’roll.”
The festival is proving popular with Cariocas and gringos alike. Self-confessed “rock chick” Ana Luisa Tomas Caetano spoke highly of the event: “It’s been a great night. Not only have the bands been amazing, [but] for once things have gone smoothly. Usually in Rio we have to wait for hours!”
And Andre Bayuni, bass guitarist for English Indie rock band “The Invasion Of…” added his voice to those praising both the park and the festival: “Having been to Glastonbury for more years than I care to remember, this is a winner. There’s no mud, there’s acres of space and there are world-class acts. Rio is on the rock map!” he enthusiastically exclaimed.
The anticipation for the festival had the City of Rock open its doors a full thirty minutes before the official time. As the only mode of public transportation to the festival, 300 buses were deployed to route concertgoers from all parts of the city to its main entrance in Barra de Tijuca.
Although this system was highly planned, the anticipation and demand was underestimated. Several lines had prepaid passengers waiting up to three hours for their bus to arrive. This major delay caused many to try and make their own way without the help of Rio’s public transportation.
There have been numerous injuries reported inside and outside the festival grounds of Rock in Rio. In the first weekend there were 1,220 injuries, mostly including dislocations, sprains, headaches and low blood pressure.
There were also many reports of robberies on the grounds, and hundreds of personal identification documents recovered by security. Individuals who lost their ID can try the ‘lost and found’ kiosk in the River Rock Club near Rock Street or check the list of found identification on this PDF file.
As Rock in Rio continues this weekend, there will be four more days of epic lineups. Thursday has a much anticipated Jamiroquai and then Stevie Wonder headlining on the main stage.
Friday will have Lenny Kravitz and Shakira, Saturday has Maroon 5 and Coldplay, and Sunday closes with System of a Down and Guns N’ Roses, among scores of other performances. It is a festival that will go down in the books and it is a must see.
For those who cannot be there and would like to take part in the experience, Multishow is broadcasting live in Brazil, and Youtube is showing constant streams of this epic festival.