On Thursday night, an otherwise tame Martina McBride concert at Chicago’s First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre suddenly turned into a bloody melee during the encore. McBride was delivering a stirring rendition of her breakthrough hit “Independence Day” when all hell broke loose.
Pumping her fist in the air to mark one of the song’s many power notes, local nurse Sandy Villanueva accidentally grazed the shoulder of the woman standing beside her with the rolls of flab which sag like so many wet hammocks from the underside of her arm. The grazed woman, local supermarket cashier Bea Harris, reacted instinctively, grabbing hold of Villanueva’s hair and yanking it with all her might. As nearby audience members rushed in to separate the two women, feet were trampled and bodies bumped, prompting several more skirmishes to break out in the surrounding area. More audience members stormed in to break up those fights, resulting in still more skirmishes.
With mayhem spreading like wildfire, McBride reportedly shouted “Let’s have some fun, Chicago!” and began tossing buckets full of brass knuckles into the crowd. While many of the rioters took to the brass knuckles, they were little match for others who opted to wield their own metal folding chairs. The few dozen pimply teenage security workers hired to work the family-friendly event proved insufficient to the task of containing a brawling mob of thousands, so the rioters had free reign until actual law enforcement arrived to restore order.
As she spoke to police officers after the show, Bea Harris, the woman who allegedly started the fracas, seemed dazed: “It’s totally out of character for me to behave in this way. I mean, I’m a Sunday school teacher. It was just like something suddenly came over me. That Martina McBride song had some sort of strange hold.”