From spookfest to nightmare

Monster Jam Fest forced to relocate and downsize due to P.O.D. song

By Michel Miller 10/25/2012

 

It was going to be epic. Three days of family-friendly Halloween-themed entertainment including a giant haunt, carnival rides and battle of the bands that would culminate with a fairly impressive heavy metal show. But the Monster Jam Fest, scheduled for this weekend at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, at the last minute was reduced to music only — minus several key bands — and moved to the Ventura Theater.


According to Simi Valley promoter Ezio Van Horst, the trouble began when fairgrounds officials expressed concern about the lyrics from one of the band’s songs. In an email to Van Horst, fairgrounds sales manager Lilia Kenneally wrote that the Christian metal band P.O.D. would not be allowed to perform its 2001 No. 1 hit song “Youth of a Nation” at the event because the lyrics were too “touchy and controversial,” especially, she said, in light of what happened in Colorado, possibly referring to the movie theater shootings there earlier this year.


While “Youth of a Nation,” does describe a school shooting scenario, it’s clearly in the context of a lament rather than a celebration of violence. Kenneally even admitted in her letter that she could discern a positive message when reading between the lines of the song. Why P.O.D. was singled out remains a mystery; if fairgrounds officials were sincerely troubled by P.O.D.’s lyrics, why didn’t songs by other bands on the bill get the same scrutiny, especially considering many of them are equally, if not more offensive, and seem to actually propose violence as a solution to various societal ills? Unfortunately, Kenneally and other fairgrounds representatives failed to respond to VCReporter’s inquiries.


Van Horst says that he tried to resolve the matter quickly but the fairgrounds wouldn’t budge. He was placed in the awkward position of having to inform P.O.D.’s management who told him that although they’ve been asked to tone down profanity in the past, they have never been forbidden from playing an entire song by a venue. “This form of censorship was not taken lightly, and was not considered typical,” he said.


The situation, Van Horst claims, caused him to lose a key investor and weeks of promotion time which inevitably led to dropping Static-X, Prong and Exodus from the lineup. Despite P.O.D. eventually agreeing to lose the song, and an urgent plea from Van Horst to fans and friends for help with ticket sales, he had no choice but to come up with a new plan.


The Ventura Theater agreed to pick up the slack and host the concert on Oct. 28, which will feature Hellyeah, P.O.D.,  Dio Disciples, Witchburn, Ill Nino and Holy Grail. Tickets already sold will be honored and new tickets may be purchased for $35.


Van Horst says he and his partners have lost $130,000 so far on the event, but they are determined to put on a great concert anyway. “We have never been quitters, and no matter what we want to bring some killer bands out to Ventura — and we don’t want anyone to tell us what songs our bands can or cannot play.”

*Note: since this article was published, Static-X was added back into the lineup.

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