Rock In Rio "Day 1"

Rock in Rio is allegedly the worlds largest music festival. With the event spanning over a week's time, the collective attendance exceeds half a million people. For those of you who don't get enough on their home turf, and have a need to travel for excitement, I've taken the time to outline the tricks to this event as practically everything that currently exists online is in Portuguese or a vague generalization of what to expect from the festival organizers. This feature aims to outline step by step how to prepare in advance before flying half way across the world on hopes and expectations that aren't readily available for clarity. 

Unless you live in Brazil, the chances of you getting actual tickets from the official site of purchase is impossible. Everything official that occurs in Brazil, whether it's buying a cell phone to purchasing movie tickets requires what's known in Brazil as a CFP. This is the equivalent of an SSN and it's done this way to avoid scalping (ha!) and illegal embezzlement from the drug lords that plague this entire continent.They sell a card, like a credit card, to the event that people purchase before any of the bands are announced that lets concert goers choose which day they want to go to as throughout the week different days are allocated to different genres. Again, you have nothing to do with this process unless you actually live here.
   The site outlines different types of tickets and goes into detail, but again, unless you live here, you need to wait and purchase them second hand. I found Ticketbis, a company I had never heard of before to provide that service. I purchased MEIA tickets. I had no idea what that meant until I looked it up and found out that they were student tickets. I read on the site that unless you can show proof of enrollment, there's a 50/50 chance you won't get in. This is complete nonsense as the kids running the turnstiles at the entry aren't even looking at what's happening when 130,000 people are gaining entry to the event. Don't let this spook you. The tickets look like something out of Last Action Hero, or Willy Wonka and they're very unique and I've included a picture of them below so you know you got an official ticket when they arrive. I had doubt until I got to the event and noticed everyone had the same looking ticket. Score!
   The tickets took forever to get here. In fact, I got tickets to day one thirty minutes before doors opened! I sat in the lobby of my hotel and waited for a UPS truck to jump into the hotel and hand them to the counter, but instead a young couple came in, who were the actual sellers, and hand delivered them to me. Now, you have to understand, this is hardly a standard I'm used to. In the U.S. if you don't have a ticket thirty minutes before showtime, you're probably not going. But alas! They were delivered and they were legit and I got in. I wrote so many terrible reviews about the company in frustration, as the tracking number never updated anything on the UPS site and the chat features and emails were ridiculous at times (I needed to provide my passport number to release them?). So if you're going through something similar, know that it's okay and that you will probably get the tickets right before you need to leave for the event.
   So if you're thinking about going, I'd recommend purchasing the tickets far enough in advance from Ticketbis (which worked for me even though their reviews online will have you literally think you got scammed) and ensure they arrive in the U.S. to avoid the pressure and ambiguity that you just traveled across the planet for an event you didn't get tickets to.
   I didn't get the two days worth of tickets together, because again, the information online that exists today is so vague, that I didn't even know Deftones were playing a day before Slipknot until a week before the event.

Getting to Rio
Flights are cheap to GIG this time of year. Like really cheap. Carnival and New Years are their big days so you can fly TAM for less than $600 and get a straight flight here in September.
   Rent a car. Seriously, do it. It's costs $160 the entire time you're here and don't need to deal with Taxi's who don't speak English that don't know where you're going. 
   All the cars have a built in GPS so just make sure you book a hotel somewhere in Leblon or Copacabana in advance, plug your street address and enjoy the view! You can park in the hotel, don't mess with the streets. It's worse than my experience trying to find parking in Florida State University and you will either probably get towed, or get a ticket that you won't know what to do with.

Getting to Rock in Rio
It's easy to assume that you just follow the above instructions and plug Cidade do Rock into your GPS and magically arrive at the show. Wrong! The city literally shuts down for this. This place is not Orlando and knows how to professionally manage crowd control at the fairgrounds or on game day. Every street you think will take you closer to the event is blocked and has some round about way to get around it. 
   This is frustrating for obvious reasons, but you need to just do the best you can to stay calm and progress your way around this. The street Salvador Allende which you see on the map which indicates to make a left and directly swoop in to the event is closed. It will not open for you either. It's practically a hall and it's overwhelming when you don't know the area and have to makeshift your way in. The street was under construction when I went and in fact, every time I found a new way, Rio beat me to it and closed that street as well.
   There are plenty of busses that charter you in, but if you're like me and want to be in control, you CAN drive. Just prepare in advance. Educate yourself on nearby streets on the map, know the area, and again, just stay calm. It took me two hours from the moment I left the hotel to the moment I took the keys out of the ignition.

Parking at the Event
Official parking is only for those who purchased the card in advance. Again, not our scene if you're reading this. Estacionamento means parking. They are everywhere by the event. Find one as close as possible to the entry and pay the guys 50R and move on. The car will be there later. I promise. 
   Once I left Leblon and arrived in the neighborhood of the event, it was obvious I wasn't in Kansas anymore, but these people thrive on chaos as my brother said to me when I was venting to him the whole time, and it's just not the standard I was used to. I left day 1 at 2:03, and they left the gate open, I walked in, gave a thumbs up, plugged the hotel address back into the GPS and rocked some jams on the ride home.

The Event
Once I parked the car and got through the turnstile, I was in candy land. Cidade do Rock is built for Rock in Rio. The stages do not get taken down after the event ends, and in fact, are stationary and will be waiting for next year to arrive. 
   The bands get long set times. Deftones, Lamb of God, and QOTSA all played well over hour long sets and System of a Down played twenty seven songs and played well into the night.
   Be prepared. There is a reason the doors don't open until 14:00. The last band gets on at midnight and plays a two hour set. So pace yourself.
   The problem with these long sets that I found is that it's impossible to move when the shows are on. There are roller coasters, zip lines, a Ferris wheel, and dozens of vendors for food and drink that people disperse to in between acts, but during showtime, you better be where you need to be to enjoy the show. Also, be careful and take care of yourself. In an event that caters to such a large population, once you're in the deep end, it's hard to get out.

Water at the event is available and is cheap and the vendors come into the pit area and sell it to the crowd. However, they don't come into the deep end close to the barricade and deal with the push and try and sell their snacks and drinks for obvious reasons. You must keep this into consideration if you're like me and want to be in on the action. The bands have long set times and I wasn't prepared and had to claw my way out ten songs into SOAD's set. It took over ten minutes to save myself and get out of the mess once the band came on. 
   Don't panic. Stay cool. Stay hydrated and try and see if you can at least bring in a bottle with you to the event for when the headliners come on. You don't want to be on the outer circle of a 130,000 person event if you've traveled across the world to get here. Day 2 I am going in with three liters and parking myself by the main stage to catch Faith No More and Slipknot.

(these are 5 Brazilian Real in the pit)

(these are 5 Brazilian Real in the gas station)

The Bands - Palco Sunset
I finally survived everything above and it was time to enjoy the show! I must be a real masochist if this is what I consider fun, but I know it's not for everyone, hence I attended solo. It's crucial to come with the right people because it's not an easy event, and if you've never been to a festival before DO NOT start with this one.
   There are two proper stages at Cidade do Rock and then several small ones for electronic music that goes on until 3:00 and another for street dancers and local acts. The "second stage" is Palco Sunset, and the giant monolith you see pictures of on Google is Palco Mundo.
   Halestorm was an mediocre rock band. Radio rock, nothing fancy, just another band to play. It was obviously their dream come true and they did everything from a drum solo to covers and it was cute, but eh, just not for me.
   Lamb of God crushed it. The crowd was out of their minds when they came on. I had seen them countless times in the past, but this was obviously different and on one of the world's biggest stages even though it was still considered the "second stage." It was their first time in Rio and it was obvious the scene here doesn't get the same circulation it does in the U.S.  
   The pit went on for days. There was no where to stay safe unless you were outside the event. Jump with the crowd, don't avoid it and move with the shuffle. That's the only tip I can give. 
   If you've never been to a concert out of the U.S. perhaps start with something smaller. People dance differently, they move differently and their not as jaded as the crowds back home can be. We've seen it all. But Brazil doesn't get a Deftones tour twice a year every year like we do in North America, they didn't just see Slipknot and Lamb of God on the "Summer's Last Stand" route, so people here are overwhelmed when these bands play.
   It's like those Michael Jackson shows where people would start crying and pass out and get carried out by stretchers. When "My Own Summer" came on it was like a political event. I had never heard such a reaction in the dozens of times I've seen these guys.
   I've been watching Deftones since I was a kid, the first time being in Orlando in the 90's sometime before White Pony dropped. But I've never seen them happier. I've never seen Chino smile. It's always that somber look on the band's faces. But tonight you could tell they took pride in all the years of hard work it took to get them to that stage. I think Deftones had played the event at some point before, but it was great to see them enjoy themselves up there. The set mixed everything from every album but the self-titled which was disappointing because that's my favorite and they also didn't play my favorite song "Feiticeira" but the night was hardly about me. They shut down Palco Sunset.
   Fireworks go off again and again, the rides keep kicking, but now it's time to indulge in what I consider one of the wonders of the world, Palco Mundo.

(Lamb of God ripping Rio in half)

 (Chino almost starting a riot)

The Bands - Palco Mundo
For those who don't know, Hollywood Vampires is a band that features Alice Cooper on vocals, Duff McKagan on bass, and Joe Perry and Johnny Depp on guitar. Yes, THE Johnny Depp. They play an assortment of covers including Zepplin tunes and it was really just a spectacle for the elderly if you ask me. I don't really know where this belongs on Earth, but these supergroups seem like a jam session to me, and I don't really dig them all too much. It was cool to see it on stage, but I like new music, fresh acts, and this seemed like a waste of a band to transition into the second part of the night. 
   Queens of the Stone Age are a band I've gained more and more respect for throughout the years. They played an amazing set. Josh Homme is a great vocalist and I urge you to check them out if you've been misguided by their single "No One Knows" because their catalogue holds some true gems and they certainly know how to piece together an incredible set list. 
   System of a Down was the main event, and I don't think they've played a single show in several years. I had last seen them in 2006 when they headlined an Ozzfest somewhere, but I forgot how much fun their tunes can be. They only have a few albums, but they managed to spit TWENTY SEVEN songs like a fart and had a cameo from Chino towards the end. They closed with "Sugar" which was cute, being the song that started it all on a second stage on Ozzfest with a few innocent bystanders almost twenty years ago.

(the view of QOTSA from about 120,000 people in)

(the deep end during SOAD's kickoff)

Getting Out
Despite what you might think, the roads were relatively clear heading home. Maybe there is some logic to the way the roads are blocked because I expected a massive headache getting out. It was smooth sailing and I got back at around 3:00 and passed out almost immediately.

Day 2 Ahead!
Tonight's headliners feature Faith No More and Slipknot and I am packing the water to go into the deep end. I hope this helped outline the do's and don't' and what to expect when heading out to the world's largest music festival. There's tons of pro footage of the event so the photos might be slop-kick but I figured I'd share some eyewitness captures I thought were appropriate. 

(Palco Mundo in the distance before the finale)


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