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September 20, 2014

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Defending the Bizkit

Why does everyone gotta hate on Fred Durst so much?

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Ryan Olbrysh

Limp Bizkit | The Pearl | Las Vegas, NV | 07.19.09

There’s Fred Durst, still standing in his vintage Adidas sneakers with the goddamn red hat on his head.

I used to have the same wardrobe. I liked—and still do like—Limp Bizkit. There, I said it. Got it off my chest.

Maybe it’s because I spent the majority of 1996 to 2004 in hockey locker rooms and frat houses. Possibly it’s because I grew up an angry kid from a broken home in Buffalo, a dying town filled with abandoned buildings under a gray sky. Getting sent to the guidance counselor for anger-management classes makes songs like “Break Stuff” seem poignant to a 16-year-old who failed math class.

Now, of course, it seems so silly.

When all the angry kids of the 1990s grew up, Durst became the most hated vocalist since Vanilla Ice, a guy that same demographic turned on when they discovered people like Durst. Then—after getting blamed for the debacle that was Woodstock ’99— Durst seemed to disappear. (In reality, it was the Red Hot Chili Peppers who launched into a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” as the audience burned anything it could find at Woodstock ’99.)

Limp Bizkit’s original lineup played stateside for the first time in eight years Saturday night at the Pearl inside the Palms. A lot has changed, for the band, its audience and the world. In the post-Bush era of economic turmoil and troubled foreign affairs, doing it all for the nookie seems quaint.

It’s unclear why people hate Fred Durst. But they do hate him. Nasty comments appear below nearly every Limp Bizkit video on YouTube. Rolling Stone covered Saturday’s show, giving it a decent review. Immediately readers commented: “These ’tards are still around? They killed rock about 10 years ago, now their [sic] back to dance on the grave. They are everything that’s wrong with music. They suck sooooooo hard.”

These comments, ironically, are on the website for a magazine that has featured The Jonas Brothers, Adam Lambert and Lady Gaga on its last three covers. Not exactly the Stones, Dylan and Janis.

It’s true, the band gave away tickets to Saturday’s show—along with free T-shirts—and still, the venue didn’t feel packed. But blaming Limp Bizkit for the death of rock? That anger seems as misplaced as Durst’s at the women who rejected him or a teenager’s at the Hamburg Central School District.

Durst’s rage can still be cathartic, though. I lost my job recently, so I enjoyed lines like, “Why do you have to go and hurt somebody like me? How could you do somebody like that?” Then I realized I was acting like a child, regressing to the person I was when Limp Bizkit was one of the biggest bands in the world.

Yet if we can’t regress to children at a rock concert, then what’s the point? Rock music, as any art form, has always been, at least in part, about the audience and the artist projecting emotions at one another. Limp Bizkit finished its 17-song set with “Take a Look Around,” the song with the Mission Impossible sample. Durst asked, “Why you wanna hate me?”

It’s a legitimate question.

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