Stage Fright

Desert Sky damage put at $150,000 after besotted musician allegedly incites riot

By this time, the stage teemed with teens. The Deftones started to play again, without monitors, and some of the kids got off the stage. But the band quickly gave up, grabbed its gear and ran.

Someone lowered the stage curtain. "That did no good," says MacNaughton. "They just ripped it down, and it was pretty much anarchy from then until the cops showed up."

Once the kids took over the stage, Nugent says, "It was pretty obvious they were going to destroy everything they could. They started picking up monitors and throwing them, and jumping up and down on speakers."

McCleary says there were 20 or 30 security guards near the stage when the rioting began.

"They were way outnumbered and really scared," he says. "You could see it on their faces. They were thinking, 'This is not worth five bucks an hour.'"

Witnesses say they saw several security guards crouched in a section reserved for handicapped patrons, watching the action around them and making no attempt to intervene.

McCleary and MacNaughton both say they saw one red-haired security guard beaten with folding chairs. Amateur video taken from the stage shows kids ripping up seats, setting fires, throwing water coolers, scaling ladders to catwalks and mooning a Phoenix police helicopter that hovered overhead.

Witnesses say 20 or 30 minutes of mayhem elapsed before a 20-member Phoenix police "quick response team" in riot gear arrived and dispersed the crowd with tear gas and pepper spray.

Detective Mike McCulloch, a Phoenix police spokesman, says seven people were arrested and cited for disorderly conduct. McCulloch says no serious injuries were reported. The case is still under investigation, he says, and will be referred to the Maricopa County attorney, who may charge Chino Moreno with inciting a riot.

Rock-concert veteran McCleary doesn't believe Moreno is guilty of that charge.

"I was watching those kids all day," he says. "And they were primed for this sort of thing. That guy [Moreno] didn't say any more than I've heard a lot of other assholes say onstage.

"The problem was the people running the festival let the momentum for violence build up too high. They should have stopped it earlier. Instead of all these condescending announcements to settle down, they should have just sprayed the crowd with water and tossed out seven or eight giant beach balls. That usually works."

After the crowd was dispersed, MacNaughton says he was taking photographs when he was approached by three security guards and a man who identified himself as general manager of Desert Sky. MacNaughton says the man demanded the film from his camera and, when MacNaughton refused, ordered the security guards to strip his camera of film. The guards grabbed MacNaughton, put him in an arm lock, and did just that.

Asked about the incident, Desert Sky director of marketing Mike Styles replied in a written statement, "Our standard venue policy requires that film from unauthorized photographers be forfeited." MacNaughton, however, had a press pass for the event that he says he showed the security guards. (As the photos accompanying this story attest, MacNaughton managed to escape with two rolls he had shot during the melee.)

Even after things calmed down at Desert Sky, the Deftones could find no safe haven.

Chino Moreno, Joey Nugent and other members of the Deftones' entourage had adjourned to the Purgatory, a Phoenix bar at 24th Street and Van Buren, when members of the goth band Type O Negative, which had been scheduled to follow the Deftones onstage at the U-Fest, came into the bar with their road crew.

"It was crazy," Nugent says. "All these guys with long black hair walk into the place, and one of them points out Chino, so Chino gets up and comes in front of the table, and he's like, 'What?' And Type O Negative's drummer [John Kelley] goes, 'You're a rock star, you act like a rock star, and you're a fucking pussy.' And, wham! He just hit Chino in the throat and everyone started fighting."

Nugent says Moreno ran out of the bar with Kelley in pursuit. He says band members fought for about five minutes. "There were bottles flying. Punches flying. It was insane," he says.

Through a publicist, the Deftones have refused to comment on any events before, during or after the U-Fest. The band has also canceled all scheduled interviews.

KUPD is not commenting, either.
Asked whether Desert Sky planned to sue anyone, Styles replied in his statement that "KUPD and Desert Sky are still investigating the incident and we have not yet ruled out litigation."

No word yet on the lineup for U-Fest 1997.

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