99 X Bigger Day Out

(featuring: Collective Soul, Sevendust, 3 Doors Down, Tantric, Adema, Lifehouse, Rehab, Butch Walker, Lit, Boy Hits Car, Tenacious D, Living Colour, Godsmack and 311)


September 21-22, 2001

Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater

Atlanta, GA


Collective Soul (9/21):

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  Regional modern rock monolith 99X’s 2001 celebration of themselves now spreads across two days, four stages and a signing tent. Running between them were thousands upon thousands of 18-21 year olds in various states of angst, partying, or recovery from partying. Whether it was to see local up and comers Left Front Tire on the locals stage, Living Colour on the “Living Loud” stage, Tenacious D doing a live interview in the “Digital Den,” meeting Alien Ant Farm in the Wherehouse Music tent or just watching 311 headline the whole kit and caboodle, there was truly something for everyone. That is, of course, except for anyone who doesn’t partake in all the homogenized one-sound-fits-all ethics of the 99X’s of the world.  Personally, of the ungodly number of bands I saw, I would only remember a couple of songs if I heard them again. Bands like Tantric, Oleander, American Hi-Fi, Nickelback and such are so painfully interchangeable that I can’t even tell one from the other on air much less in person. I can truly say that the only differences between them seem to be the number of tattoos and variations of hairstyles that they have. Disappointments were many at this summer’s end festival. Jane’s Addiction/Red Hot Chili Peppers axeman Dave Navarro’s main stage solo set was a muted affair with little of note. He hardly played guitar at all and few were even there to hear his late afternoon slot if he had bothered to cut loose. A cover of Velvet Underground’s “Venus And Furs” was a nice try, but too little to liven up the place. Upon venturing over to the side stage, I found the crowd. Throughout the two days, the “Living Loud” stage was generally the place to be. The crowds were more steady, the bands rocked harder and the security guards were less Nazi-like than at the main area. At one point I even saw a guard light a joint for a girl in the front row and proceed to share it! Friday’s Alien Ant Farm set was a pleasant second stage surprise. With a bass player doing a move for move Gene Simmons impersonation and a singer generous with the finger, they proved to be one of the better acts of the event. They gave all they had and the crowd was right in the palm of their collective hand for the duration of their set. Speaking of “collective,” Collective Soul dished out a typical set of mid-tempo rockers written and aimed at the people there to see them and no one else.

Sevendust (9/21):

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First night headliners 3 Doors Down were even more non-threatening than the other harmless acts on the bill. With an American flag draped in front of the drum riser, they put on a mildly entertaining set and people responded with the same intensity as the group put into its music. Which is to say, it was lukewarm at best. Second stage headliners Sevendust stormed the place, and inspired much leaping and shoving, but didn’t do much else. The first day wasn’t that spectacular.

3 Doors Down (9/21):

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Crowd shots 1 (9/22):

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  Luckily, the second day was a little better. Tantric was not the only band to make remarks about the recent attacks on America, but they perhaps did have the most ironic comment. Dedicating a song to “all those stupid fuckers who promote hatred and killings” was at least understandable, but to follow a seemingly anti-violent statement with the crowd-baiting “we’ll get their asses real soon” was almost sad if not quite Spinal Tap-ian. Evidence of youthful bloodlust was everywhere. T-shirts selling briskly with slogans such as “Fuck Terrorists” or portraits of Bin Laden with a target painted over him showed the lack of understanding involved when something as horrible as what happened falls on us. Granted, the intention was good. There was a sense of “glad to be here,” togetherness and unity that was undeniable. Although it was a bit ominous to see so many recruiters from various branches of the military waiting at the exit gates to enlist as many riled up drunks as possible.

Tantric (9/22):

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  Adema rocked the sun-baking second stage with tons of energy while the security guards literally hosed down the crowd constantly. Red-faced teens begged for water from the guards who would then throw ice cubes in the air to them to catch in their dry mouths. It probably sounds more demeaning than it was. They all seemed to be having a good time. Girls hoisted themselves onto boyfriend’s shoulders and flashed their breasts in the hopes of being rewarded by a blast of cool water from the hoses. 

Adema (9/22):

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  Over on the cooler (and infinitely more boring) main stage, Lifehouse sleepwalked through a four-song set that could have made a Kenny G fan crave Limp Bizkit. Thank God for the “Living Loud” area. Now it was really cooking. Local rap-rock act Rehab was probably the best thing happening at this festival. They led sing-alongs through “It Doesn’t Matter” and “Drinking Problem” before relinquishing the stage to another rocking surprise.

Lifehouse (9/22):

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Rehab (9/22):

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  Boy Hits Car was complete pandemonium. These guys are should be huge. They deserve to be. They had terrific energy and at least one of ‘em seemed to be airborne at any given moment. They even led the crowd through a chant of “Love! Love! Love!” before launching into the quizzically titled “As I Watch The Sun Fuck The Ocean.” While Lit’s main stage set couldn’t compare with Boy Hits Car, at least they brought a little life to the covered area. Starting with a surprise appearance by local alt-rock hero Butch Walker (formerly of Marvelous 3) who performed a stunningly hair-metalesque “Star Spangled Banner,” Lit did a solid, entertaining set that felt like a modernized take on Budokan-era Cheap Trick. After this, the odd men out appeared on the main stage.

Butch Walker (9/22):

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Lit (9/22):

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Crowd Shots 2 (9/22):

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Tenacious D (9/22):

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  Tenacious D delivered a typically stupid (meant in a good way) spectacle which involved the foot-launching of Nerf rockets into the crowd. Their hilarious and profane Simon and Garfunkel meets Zappa style was a welcome relief from the posing of most of the other performers. After their set, the duo led the crowd over to the outdoor stage where they introduced the return of Living Colour. While most of the young audience knew nothing by them except “Cult Of Personality,” they seemed to understand that these were the godfathers of most of the music they listened to now. Lead singer Corey Glover didn’t even make it all the way through the first song before climbing into the pit. Their tribute to the victims in New York City was the most poignant of the show perhaps because that’s their hometown. “Open Letter (To A Landlord)” took on an entirely different and equally powerful meaning in this context. Lines like “You can tear a building down, but you can’t erase a memory” really hit home. The emotional rocker ended with Cory’s voice alone declaring, “You’ve got to fight for your neighborhood.”

Living Colour (9/22):

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  Unfortunately, the soul and emotional intensity of Living Colour was long gone by the time Godsmack took over. They had a huge production. Between the gargoyles, flames and stone looking surfaces it was almost possible to forget that there were no songs hidden in the overkill pounding of their music. They were clearly fan favorites, though. Despite the fact that their elaborate set up blocked the view of most of the fans that were actually closest to the stage, everyone crowd surfed and screamed along with abandon.

Godsmack (9/22):

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311 (9/22):

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  Over on the main stage 99X’s event headliners 311 were preparing to deliver their anticlimactic performance. They received a modestly warm response and churned out just what you’d expect from them. I will admit that I was surprised by how many hits they had and by the fact that a few of them were catchy enough to remember! 99X’s format may be atrociously programmed, cynically targeted, commercially motivated and generic, but they know how to give their audience what they want. (Chris McKay/concertshots.com)