If the event saw any violence, it came from the audience hurling plastic bottles, most notably before and after Guns N' Roses' set January 14th. Fans apparently grew antsy at preceding entertainer Carlinhos Brown and then tossed bottles at a traditional Rio samba school playing in the band's wake. (Rose did his part to avoid crowd violence, stopping the band's first song and requesting that security remove an unruly fan.)
It was apparently difficult to locate other major incidents. Maybe that is to be expected from a festival that began with three minutes of prayerful silence and then with Brazilian pop artist Gilberto Gil singing John Lennon's "Imagine." There was also a special "For a Better World Tent," but critics said that discussions of peace were noticeably absent from the main stage.
The festival drew an estimated 1.5 million fans plus an estimated 1 billion viewers on pay-per-view television and the Internet. Organizer Roberto Medina told The New York Times the event pumped $180 million to $300 million into the local economy and generated $40 million in media coverage.
More than 150 acts played Rock in Rio, including R.E.M., James Taylor, Neil Young, Sheryl Crow, Beck, Foo Fighters, and Oasis. The average attendance per night was 150,000 with an estimated 250,000 for the closing. Medina said he is planning another festival for 2003 and hopes to get Rush, Pink Floyd, and Carlos Santana.
Despite the good vibes, the festival was criticized in the Times as a "music-booking triumph and a musical insult; a social-improvement project and a giant corporate advertisement."
One of the most telling contradictions reportedly came during the opening moment of silence: 60,000 concert-goers quietly waved white handkerchiefs in a display of unity, but each handkerchief was emblazoned with a logo from $17 million sponsor America Online.
According to the Times, complaints included the usual fare: difficult navigation of the site, expensive but inedible food, litter and messy toilets. Brazilians complained that American and British acts headlined while Brazilian musicians that normally outsell foreign acts in South America played earlier in the day.
A group of rap acts held a protest concert in Sao Paulo because they had been excluded, according to Reuters. Organizers believed their fans to be too violent for the festival. Some of Brazil's biggest bands dropped out, saying organizers favored foreign acts.