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Any cynicism one could have about Limp Bizkit or Fred Durst was immediately eroded when the band precipitated a human groundswell inside Melbourne’s Festival Hall. A single riff played by a face-painted eccentric clad in LED armour forced a short circuit in the heads of crowd members, overriding their evolutionary instincts, and making them throw caution to the pot smoke to collide into every object dense enough to absorb force, with the might of a planetary cataclysm.
The truth is every joke’s been done and every jab’s been taken. Making quips about Limp Bizkit is like a hack comedian dissecting the quality of airline food. It betrays a lack of creativity and a deflection from a person’s own meagre skill or taste. No matter how bad people are doing, they can always s**t on the one guy who’s one rung lower than them: Fred Durst.
Of course, it was Fred Durst for whom a pressurised mass of human bodies emitted blood-curdling screams when they saw him walk out on the Festival Hall stage, the crowd peppered with red baseball caps in desperate, little-kid-in-a-Batman-costume imitations of him. And it was Fred Durst who had a giant, 8-bit style pictograph composed of all of his “iconic” features plastered at the front of Festival Hall, wedged between similar stylisations of his bandmates. But by all means, keep the hack jokes coming.
Show Me What You Got, Hot Dog, and Rollin’ were rounded off like buckshot. The band stood defiantly on stage to ask a weighty question: “what if the last decade or so never happened?” It is bizarre to watch the video for Rollin’ and see not only Durst rubbing shoulders with high-calibre stars like Ben Stiller, but to watch Limp Bizkit as the world’s biggest band, playing atop the south tower of the World Trade Center.
The band had invited the audience to live in that moment for a while, and the audience were more than happy to indulge them. As far as they were concerned, Limp Bizkit were still the biggest band in the world, and yet to receive a letter from the World Trade Center to thank them for featuring the towers in the Rollin’ video–postmarked 10th September, 2001.
It’s escape from grim reality that bankrolled this band in the first place. “How many people in this crowd know what it’s like to be broke?” asked Durst, grinning as the entire crowd inevitably wailed in the affirmative. “I sure as s**t do,” he said, the band launching into I’m Broke. Prior to this, the crowd had responded as enthusiastically to latter-day cut Gold Cobra as they did to Show Me What You Got, and witnessed what Durst assured them would be “the only time we play Counterfeit in Australia.”
Wes Borland, who for many remains one of the most underrated guitar talents of recent times, had taken his notoriously avant-garde image to Dadaist proportions. His outfit: face paint, a white bodysuit, and white Nikes, half-covered in Tupperware armour furnished with a galaxy of strobing LED lights.
Following a cover of Rage Against the Machine’s Killing In The Name, a sincere dedication to the late Jessica Michalik and a performance of It’ll Be Ok, Durst noticed something in the audience. Pointing, he said, “This guy right here has been at every Australian show…I’ve seen you at every show on this tour. Why don’t you come up here and see what it’s like from the stage?” Durst, aided by security, pulled the young, bearded, hoodie-clad man, onto the stage and introduced him as “Tim.” Durst kept Tim on stage for the entirety of Nookie.
The band concluded with Take A Look Around and Break Stuff, the latter forcing everyone in the venue to their feet. The spaces between songs had been filled with copious thanks from the fans’ beloved frontman and an interlude in which crowd members scrambled over crowd members to bump the waiting fist of Durst as he was held up by fans. For all the derision and hack jokes, the band had done what the most exalted underground bands often fail to do, and Durst had successfully done the job of an emcee.
Photo by Aleksandar Jason