The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rock Mayhem

At the Springfield Civic Center.

Before it got eclipsed into irrelevance by larger halls, The Springfield Civic Center was the premiere rock venue in Springfield. This is what it looked like before it was renovated into what is now called The MassMutual Center.

Rock concerts in the Valley did not originate at the Springfield Civic Center, with famous concerts by the likes of The Doors and Janis Joplin performed at such venues as the Springfield Auditorium (now called Symphony Hall) and the long since vanished Capital Theater years before the Center was even built. But in its prime, the Civic Center brought the biggest acts on the touring circuit to the Pioneer Valley.

The most notorious concerts ever held at the Civic Center were performed by the Grateful Dead, until one concert produced a fatality that got the Dead thrown out of Springfield for good. As I've written about it before:

The Dead have a storied history in Springfield. They were the first rock band to play the Civic Center when it opened (alas I did not attend) and caused a riot when they refused to come on stage until the seats on the floor were removed (can't cramp the noodle dancers ya know). This took some time and the crowd waiting outside got restless until the next thing you know some windows got broken and a few people got hurt. Despite this bad omen the Dead continued to play the Springfield Civic Center yearly until 1985, when a person alleged to be freaking out on acid hurled himself off the old Forbes & Wallace parking garage and landed with a bloody splat on Boland Way. The Dead were then permanently banned from Springfield, the only band I believe to have earned that distinction.

Although it was less serious than the Dead fatality, a violent incident involving Sebastian Bach of the group Skid Row also put the Springfield Civic Center in the national spotlight. An internet account describes the incident as follows.

Bach was arrested and tried on charges of mayhem, two counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and two counts of assault and battery following this incident at a concert in Springfield, Massachusetts, where Skid Row was opening for Aerosmith on December 27, 1989. In this case, Bach also faced $10,000 bail, which he posted at the time of his arrest. He later received three years probation.

Bach was accused of attacking concertgoers by tossing a bottle from the stage and then leaping into the crowd. One person was kicked in the head, and another, a 17-year-old female, was hit in the face, breaking her nose and skull. Bach returned to the stage to finish the gig after the scuffle, in which he said was antagonized by some of the concertgoers in attendance, one of whom had hit him with a bottle, which is why Bach said he threw it back into the crowd.

A person with a video camera captured all of the violence for posterity - and a jury! Bach ultimately got off with probation.

An Irishman, a Mexican and a blonde guy were doing construction work on scaffolding on the 20th floor of a building.

They were eating lunch and the Irishman said, "Corned beef and cabbage! If I get corned beef and cabbage one more time for lunch, I'm going to jump off this building."

The Mexican opened his lunch box and exclaimed, "Burritos again! If I get burritos one more time I'm going to jump off, too."

The blonde opened his lunch and said, "Bologna again! If I get a bologna sandwich one more time, I'm jumping too."

The next day, the Irish man opened his lunch box, saw corned beef and cabbage, and jumped to his death.

The Mexican opened his lunch, saw a burrito, and jumped, too.

The blonde guy opened his lunch, saw the bologna and jumped to his death as well.

At the funeral, the Irishman's wife was weeping. She said, "If I'd known how really tired he was of corned beef and cabbage, I never would have given it to him again!"

The Mexican's wife also wept and said, "I could have given him tacos or enchiladas! I didn't realize he hated burritos so much."

Everyone turned and stared at the blonde's wife. The blonde's wife said,

"Don't look at me, he makes his own lunch!"


Tim said...


The Dead sure put on some great shows there and I saw a few. I saw a great one there in 75' with the Allman Bros. too. There were reportedly 11,000 people there as so many used to sneak in. I went into the mens room and there was so many people it took a few minutes to squeeze out. All the aisles hd people sitting on the stairs. If something happened that caused a panic I really think it would have been like the Cincinatti Who concert. Luckily nothing happened and Greg Allman told the crowd, "Don't bother requesting anything, cause we're going to play every damn thing you know." They did. I remember me and two buddies snuck in a whole case of Schlitz kingers. Ah, the 70's.

Anonymous said...

I remember KISS at the Springfield Civic Center with Judas Priest opening. That was a rock show.

Anonymous said...

I won tickets to see Alice Cooper at the Civic Center in 1972. It was classic Cooper with a stage show that featured guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood and boa constrictors!

sodafixer said...

Lynyrd Skynrd...was one of my favortie civic center concerts...and my frye boots could ounce...a chamber pipe...and a pint of leroux black berry brandy in them! I sure do miss the 70s...and my boots...and my ounce...and..

Anonymous said...

I was at that show....

Nice all the Amherst/Northampton stuff. I was at Umass 77-81....I came pre-psychedelicized from that shining gem of cultural diversity: Brockton.
Keep up the good work, steady as she goes captain!

Chris Doyle SF, Ca.