Internet Honors Anniversary of Dave Matthews Band Dumping Feces on Tourists

August 8 marks a fond anniversary in Chicago, Illinois history that has transformed into internet lore: the day a famous rock band dumped human waste onto a boat full of innocent sightseers.

"Happy Dave Matthews Band Chicago River Incident day to all who celebrate," said one of many posts commemorating the event on Twitter today.

Eighteen years ago, a Dave Matthews Band tour bus was driving over the Kinzie Street Bridge in Chicago, Illinois, when it emptied the bus's septic tank onto a sightseeing boat of over 100 people in the Chicago River below. An estimated 800 pounds of human waste drenched the passengers of Chicago's Little Lady.

Witnesses said "a cascade of a 'brownish-yellow' substance rained on them," reported the Chicago Tribune's original story in 2004. "About two-thirds of the passengers seated on the upper deck of Chicago's Little Lady were soaked."

As stunned passengers came to the horrific realization of what had befallen them, they yelled for police and demanded the boat turn around. It sped back to the dock while some passengers got sick in the lower-deck bathrooms.

After "Poopgate," as it is known by many Chicagoans, the Dave Matthews Band paid a settlement of $200,000 to an environmental fund and agreed to record when and where its tour buses emptied septic tanks, reported BBC News. The agreement with then-Attorney General Lisa Madigan did not settle several other personal injury lawsuits.

Dave Matthews Band
August 8 marks the anniversary of when the Dave Matthews Band tour bus dumped human waste onto a boat full of innocent sightseers in Chicago, Illinois. Here, Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band performs at the 2021 Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival in September 2021 in Franklin, Tennessee. Terry Wyatt / Stringer/Getty Images North America

"This settlement is reasonable and appropriate given the public and environmental health threats caused by this foul incident," Madigan said at the time.

Bus driver Stefan Wohl was sentenced to probation and community service after he pleaded guilty to reckless conduct and discharging contaminants into the river. The band also announced that he was fired.

Several tweets on Monday circulated images from the fatal day, with one notorious photo capturing the moment that a deluge of human waste coated the top of the tour boat.

Another image showed a sign posted on the Kinzie Street Bridge, which read, "In August 2004, at this very location, a DMB tour bus dumped 800 pounds of poo on some people." Two hashtags below added, "#NeverForget" and "#AlwaysRemember."

One Twitter user suggested a more permanent commemoration, writing, "Honestly with the fact Chicagoans remember the anniversary and with guides on architectural tours mentioning it all the time, there should be a plaque or some kind of memorial on the Kinzie Street bridge for the Dave Matthews tour bus incident."

Another tweet said nostalgically, "Time flies: A child born on the day the Dave Matthews Band tour bus dropped 800 pounds of s**t on 120 Chicago River tourists can now legally vote and go to war."

Newsweek reached out to the Dave Matthews Band for comment.