System Of A Down has pointed the finger at the venue and security for the mini-riot and cancellation of their free Hollywood concert on Monday (September 3), calling the incident "one more blow to our freedom to convene." In a lengthy message posted on the group's website (systemofadown.com), System frontman Serj Tankian wrote, "[They] were not prepared adequately for such a show of heads."
The parking-lot gig, planned as a "thank you" to hometown fans on the eve of the release of the group's second album, Toxicity, was aborted by fire marshals as the crowd--estimated to be as large as 10,000--grew unruly, rushed the stage, and looted much of the group's equipment. Six people were arrested, including one for assault on a police officer, while several minor injuries were also reported.
Tankian cited fear as a catalyst for the melee. "There were so many people there that only a part of them could even actually view the stage," he writes. "It was feared that had the band set foot on stage, people would push, shove, and possibly trample others to get a visual fix on the band. At that point, the barricades had all come down, and the band could not safely make it to the stage."
According to Tankian, the decision to not announce the show's cancellation, because of concern of increased hostility from the crowd, actually heightened the tensions, as did the presence of police in riot gear and on horseback, likened by the singer to "ancient feudal tactics."
"We believe that all of this could and should have been avoided had the band been allowed on stage. We also believe that there is lack of understanding and communication dealing with such events between promoters and the LAPD. We strongly suggest the creation of a communications forum and an officer-training program between the LAPD and KROQ, as well as other promoters/radio stations."
Meanwhile, the LAPD blamed the promoter for vastly underestimating the potential fan turnout, according to the Los Angeles Times. "It was a poorly planned event," one police commander told the newspaper.
-- Neal Weiss, Los Angeles (launch.com)