On 19 February 1998 the temperature at an abandoned cattle station deep in the Pilbara Region of Mardie Western Australia, reached a gooch blistering 50.5 °C. This time and place not only went down in Australia's history for being the hottest temperature ever recorded in the history WA but also the day it played host to a gargantuan sized festival that left 14 dead and 306 hospitalized.
This is the story of the "Hot as Hell Festival".
When it became apparent to childhood friends Travis Bachas, Chad Yager and Sal Bender that this unprecedented heat was imminent, they unfathomably rushed to arrange a tortures festival that would that not only embrace the heat but would enforce it. The basic premise behind the major music event was simple, to make it as hot and dry as hell. To this extent meticulously cruel attention to detail was payed to denying any concert goer the tiniest comfort of a single atom of moisture until the mentally scarring experience was deemed over by management.
The grounds themselves had been prepared and stripped of all water sources, natural puddles or wells. As well as this, all tree's, lean to's or any other shade providing structure had also been torn down to avoid the possibility of a patron getting even the simplest reprieve from the heat.
The catering itself consisted strictly and limited only to stale bread loafs, cheap salted beer nuts and fun size packs of Smiths Toobs. If a desperate soul required liquid the only elixir on offer was room temperature dry ginger, sarsaparilla or piping hot Bonox beef drink.
The line up itself consisted of some the most brutally scared, calcified, moisture sapping throats in the world. With early performances from the likes of Rose Tattoo, Tex Perkins, Chad Kroger and George Thorogood, the crowd was breaking down into the first stages of severe dehydration by 10-am. However as the mercury climbed so did the relentless amplified screaming of some of the most hoarse larynx cannons in the business, as Tim Rodgers's ill proportioned head projected out pure grief across the flaking crowd. This was directly followed by a miserably craggy Tom Waits, peaking perfectly at 12-noon and 50.5 °C with a duet by Joe Cocker and and that guy from "The Commitments" covering Louie Armstrong.
At 5-pm the gates were opened, and a frantic crush of putrid terrified punters spewed forth into the Pilbara. The temperature still soared higher than Icarus and no transportation was seemingly on offer so patrons were forced to walk over three kilometres back to the impractically distanced car-park.
The Hot As Hell festival on the 19th February 1998 is widely and universally regarded as the worst music event in history and was never repeated, however throughout the years a reflective appreciation, bordering on cult following, has formed around the memory of the unforgettable never to be repeated event.
Well in closing i'd say anyone whom wasn't at that dusty shit pit really dodged a bullet. Think twice about what you think is cool because when you get there it may not be, and you may have a terrible time.
Stay involved, stay embraced.
Integrity. C. Cronkite.