Rock in Rio in Depth

And now for a little more information about Rock in Rio…

The first Rock in Rio took place in a field in Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1985 (MGFI was there). It lasted for ten consecutive days with several of the bands playing two nights. The Go Go’s, James Taylor, Iron Maiden, Whitesnake, George Benson, Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, The Scorpions, The B52’s, Nina Hagen, Rod Stewart and Yes were all among the lineup. Queen also played two shows and included in their set the song, Love of My Life. It was so popular that it became a sort of second theme song for the festival, so much so that the Brazilian singer, Milton Nasicimento sang it on the opening day of this year’s festival.
The first Rock in Rio happened during and was a part of a Brazil in a historic transition. After 20 years of military rule (Ditadura) the country was returning to civilian rule. During the Ditadura there had been extensive censorship and many artists, musicians, writers and creatives in general were exiled while others simply left to express their art elsewhere. Rock in Rio in several ways was a festival announcing both externally (internationally) and internally that Brasil was open again and to ready rock.
The second Rock in Rio was held in 1991 in Maracanã stadium (MGFI wasn’t there). It was nine consecutive days with several of the performers playing more than one day again. Guns and Roses, George Michael, Prince, Billy Idol and New Kids were a few among many of international acts that played.
The third Rock in Rio in 2001 took place over seven days (two weekends) and each act only appeared once. Sting, R.E.M., Foo Fighters, N’Sync, Brittany Spears, Beck, Oasis, Iron Maiden (Who recorded a live album there), Dave Matthews Band and Neil Young were among the performers (MGFI wasn’t there).
In 2004 Rock in Rio moved to Lisbon, Portugal and stayed there again for Rock in Rio 2006. Both Madrid, Spain and Lisbon again hosted shows in 2008 and 2010. For ten long years Rio was not rocking in it’s original home. Why this happened, I don’t know but I do know that this year, rock returned home.
The 2011 Rock in Rio took place in a specially built area named The Cidade do Rock. It is the same name of the site of the first festival but the new Cidade is a made of permanent structures with intended use for future Rock in Rio festivals and the upcoming 2016 Olympics. Complete with ferris wheel, roller coaster, bathrooms, first aid stations, press boxes, VIP tents, three stages, food stations and a road to imitate Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, US, the Cidade do Rock was a marvelous thing to behold (MGFI was there.. And so was I).
The fourth Rock in Rio held in Rio took place over seven days. Like the third, it did not consist of consecutive days but instead was spread over two weeks during their respective weekends. Each international act only made one appearance but several Brazilians performers appeared multiple times with and without their respective bandmates.
On the day we went we saw Joss Stone on the sunset stage (a kind of big extended warm up area until those selected as the main acts played). On the world stage (the big one) we saw Janelle Monae, Ke$ha, Jamiroquai and Stevie Wonder. I don’t know the official attendance numbers but I do know that it was a wonderful experience.
If the 1985 Rock in Rio can be argued to have been an introduction of Brazil as a reemerging democratic cultural force than the festival’s return this year’s could be argued to be a celebration of much more culturally secure nation who is ready to take on the larger challenges such a second hosting of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. Although, there were reports of robberies, the percentages are overall low proving Brazil can do it. They can build it, host it and maybe… just maybe this Rock in Rio proves that the long awaited future is finally here.


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