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Urban Fest gets ugly

Gimme Shelter Dept.
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  August 10, 2011

TJI urbanfest

Every mall food court in New England must have been deader than disco last Saturday. From the looks of things around Government Center, the pukes who generally fill those venues opted instead to descend on Boston, where Mayor Tom Menino, along with promoters hired by the city, threw the teen scream of the year, complete with bare-knuckle brawling and a headlining serenade by Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller.

It didn't take long for the largely suburban horde to erupt into a frenzy at the free outdoor concert, which was dubbed, somewhat ironically, the Boston Urban Music Fest (BUMF). Halfway through a set by local favorite Moe Pope, people began recklessly launching plastic bottles — many of which had been used to smuggle booze into the area — through the air. Unlike concertgoers at City Hall rap shows in summers past, these passengers were straight-up shitfaced.

By the time that Roxbury rookie Moufy took the helm, heads were halfway to mayhem, with an apparent lack of security to stop them. This wasn't a good old-fashioned weed-fueled romper — it was gnarly. One scene resembled a Hollister war zone, with four girls hauling off a bloody friend who took a Coke can to the temple.

Things got messier after the show ended. The Boston Police Department reported no arrests, yet this reporter personally witnessed three fistfights between Government Center and Park Street — only one of which was stopped by authorities. Miller himself observed, via Twitter, "50k people are now rioting."

In the aftermath, a Menino spokesperson told reporters that problems were caused by "rival gangs from Haverhill," and that Hizzoner would re-think his decision to host hip-hop at City Hall in the future. In that consideration, he'll no doubt revisit last year's BUMF, when fans broke through barricades to storm the stage during a set by rapper Wiz Khalifa.

The mayor might, however, also want to recall the City Hall hip-hop fests that went down from 2005 to 2009, when the concert was thrown in the name of peace. Those events, which featured veteran rap acts like De La Soul and KRS-One, drew a substantially smaller, yet nonetheless substantial, crowd. The BUMF was intended to carry on the legacy of those shows, plus attract more people. In practice, though, they seem to have solely succeeded in the latter.

"It used to be a family event, and now it's turned into a melee," says Boston rap icon Edo G, who organized the Peace Boston City Hall blowout through 2009. "People used to bring their families, and kids left feeling positive. Now they're leaving drunk and high."

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  Topics: This Just In , Boston, Music, high,  More more >
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