Overhead view of the crowd gathered for the "End of the (Fucking) World" concert
The "End of the Fucking World" concert (later shortened to just "End of the World") was a was a music festival held during August 25-27th 1995 in the small town of Rome, New York
. While Michael Lang
, one of the original co-founders of Woodstock, intended for the EoFW concert to simply be a gathering to help concertgoers forget the global troubles caused by the Second Russian Civil War, Lang and other organizers vastly underestimated how widespread the fear and uncertainty was after over two years of living with economic collapse and the threat of nuclear war had spread and the toll it had taken on the average person.
What was intended to be a "peace benefit" had turned into a den of debauchery and anarchy within hours
as by nightfall, the crowd had begun to turn against the concert thanks to a combination of difficult environmental conditions (the concert taking place at the former Griffiss Air Force Base
with little in the way of shelter barring massive aircraft hangers), overpriced food and water ($5 USD for a bottle of water), and poor sanitation (namely insufficient number of port-a-potties that quickly became full). Broadcasted live on MTV, the EoFW concert began to live up to its name with small acts of vandalism (with Rage Against the Machine
vocalist Zack de la Rocha
telling attendees to go "beat those motherfuckers" in charge of the vendor stalls after hearing how high food prices were at the concert after the band's finished performing "Killing in the Name
"), which escalated into acts of looting and spontaneous riots that began after several acts decided to cancel at the last minute. In fact, by Saturday night following the Red Hot Chili Peppers
performance (where the crowd were given candles by members of the "Russian Charity Center" intending for a candlelight vigil to be held in remembrance of the victims of the Second Russian Civil War during the performance of "Under the Bridge
") were instead used to light bonfires, with overflowing garbage and the now destroyed vendor stalls being used as tinder.
With security overwhelmed (with many being underpaid much like the sanitation staff and walking out of the job) and local police being unable to restore order, it fell to the New York National Guard, already on a heightened state of readiness due to tensions with Russia, to restore order after the concert had turned into a localized riot within Rome on the 26th. By the time the concert had ended, ten people were confirmed dead through various causes (ranging from stabbings, gunshots and accidents) with an undetermined amount of rapes and thousands of dollars in damages. Rumors of cannibalism and the Heaven's Gate cult
proselytizing at the concert remain unfounded. Micheal Lang and other organizers would later be met with wrongful death and "pain and suffering" lawsuits, with many being settled out of court or resolved after most would be forced to declare bankruptcy.
"BURN, MOTHERFUCKER!! WHOO!!". Concertgoers start a bonfire with water bottles and the vending stalls that sold them. de la Rocha would later be disproportionately blamed for starting the "End of the World riot", despite the crowd already being volatile before the concert even began.
Rome Police Department officers, in cooperation with the Oneida County Sheriff's Department and the New York National Guard, disperse the crowd at the Griffiss AFB. By this time in 1995, riots and violent clashes involving police and National Guardsmen were only starting to become more common within major cities, with the images coming from EotFW would only serve as a precursor to similar riots that would occur throughout 1996.
Kurt Cobain diving into the crowd to stop a rape right in the middle of Nirvana's performance. The woman would be rescued but Cobain's nose would be broken during the scuffle, with Cobain openly declaring he "was fucking done with music after that bullshit". This event is believed to have played a role in Cobain's eventual suicide weeks later.
The band R.E.M. was the concert's final act before the event truly spun out of control, in fact the band did not abandon the concert or even leave the stage, instead choosing to play It's the End of the World as We Know It while Griffiss AFB burned to the ground. While later documentaries such as Vice's Death of History and Netflix's End of the F*cking World would dramatize their performance such as showing them playing while the National Guard stepped in, in reality R.E.M. had fled to safer ground long before the National Guard arrived.