Written By: Christmachine Audio Reference Music Server ~
Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin…you never come out the way you went in…
Really? Was I the only one who thought tempting death, time and time again was a good Idea. As I look back on it now when I was young, I remember the first time that I thought that I was going to die as my body was crushed and shifted with a sea of people in a crowd of tens of thousands around me. I would begin to panic but there was nothing I could do…I was at the precipice of a horrific but strangely enough, spiritual experience. I must preface this article with, that I do not take pleasure in other people’s pain but there is no doubt in my mind when you come out of a battle zone unharmed, it’s almost impossible to explain the relief. Even more interesting was that after that first time, I did it again and again, hundreds of times.
I remember whenever I would enter a venue, I would head to a high vantage point and just scan the environment. I got so I could look at a crowd and see the most aggressive area and would head directly there. Again when I think back it was almost like I was in a trance because soon enough after getting to that space that I wanted to be, I would realize that the rest of the people that I had come to the show with had at that point disappeared. I was all alone but I was where I wanted to be when the music started, and as I had always suspected it would be it was a mess. People were crushed, passed out from exhaustion, and being body surfed unconscious to the front and usually pulled to safety over the barriers.
I remember many shows in places like Giants Stadium in New Jersey and many other stadiums being doused with fire hoses in the mid-day heat. Idiots would be lighting of fireworks right near me and people were fighting and pepper spraying each other and of course in such tight quarters I would inhale the saturated hot pepper and get a heavy burning feeling in my throat and eyes. I remember pieces of clothing being ripped off my body and backpacks and jackets securely tied to me had no chance…they would start to rip away and I would try with all my strength to hold on to no avail.
As I did this more and more I found that I would do my part and be a good will ambassador and help rescue people who were clearly over their heads and terrified. I would get them to the front barriers and even many times carry them out the back way to safety and once helped by medics I would head directly back to the danger zone.
There were things that I saw that no person should see…I don’t even think it’s a good Idea for me to get to much into this area because I saw sexual violence, overdoses, and death right before my eyes. Again I don’t want to dwell on that because it was not that part of the experience that I was seeking out. It was horrific in every way and I abhor such things, but something strange would happen in such a violent crowded atmosphere. The next thing you know the people involved in such horrific acts were no longer visible it was as if the unruly crowd had sucked and spiraled them down into the depths of hell, gone forever.
At this point you must be saying what the hell attracted you to this well it was the music, first, it was all about the music. Second it was the adrenaline rush…think of skydiving or other thrill-seeking activities, this was my intent. Third and most important was that after I experienced it for the first time, I remember thinking ‘OMG I am going to die today…I can’t breathe’. The crowd would be packed so tight that I could not take a breath because there was no room for my lungs to expand. So I got used to being able to judge when the crowd of thousands would shift one way or the other to take a deep breath and hold it because I was not going to get any air for thirty seconds to a minute. I don’t know if any of you have experienced that, but the first, second, and third time was scary as hell. So not only did these situations bring on an experience that was beyond this world but also I was getting quite good at it.
Another thing that would happen is that I, or another person in the crowd next to me, usually a tiny girl, would get sucked to the ground and have people walking on top of us. Again if it was me I knew just to wait it out and an opening would appear overhead and it would be then that I would go hard for the surface and thankfully I was always successful. If it was another person, I would dive down as well and get hold of them and scream to “not to panic and wait it it out, that everything would be ok”. Again at the right moment I would pull both of us to the surface and lift them over my head and get them body surfed over the barriers to safety.
So with all that said I will recount one of my experiences where all of what I have previously stated and more happened. It was October 1985 at a general admission concert with Aerosmith…this was in the era just before they went more commercial (The” Done With Mirrors” Tour Before their next album “Permanent Vacation”) and it was very hot that day, overcrowded, and extremely violent. Here’s an excerpt written by the “World Of Bootlegs” at http://worldofbootlegs.blogspot.com/ , a quick description and set-list for a circulating bootleg and description of the day. This will be followed by my account this show, previously published but re-edited for this piece.
Lynn, Massachusetts, USA
September 14, 1985
Rats In the Cellar
Bone to Bone
Big Ten Inch Record
My Fist Your Face
Walkin’ The Dog
Back In The Saddle
Let The Music Do The Talking
Walk This Way
The Movie/Same Old Song And Dance
All Your Love
Toys In The Attic
Train Kept A Rollin’
Notes: The semi-famous show from the Manning Bowl, one of the summer warm up shows for the Done With Mirrors tour which would formally start in January. Seems like a wild crowd here, Tyler admonishing fights in the crowd. Interestingly there is a version of “The Movie” played here before “Same Old Song And Dance,” I believe the only known live version. Also “All Your Love” is played, a semi-rarity. The quality here is dicey. You’d think the open air venue would help the sound, but too often it is muffled and uneven, but not altogether unlistenable [sic]. I did get this from the dude who recorded it and it’s the only audio source I know of, so this is as good as it gets, if that is any solace. There is also about 60 minutes of rough video that was broadcast on local V-66 that exists. Here is some remembrance of the show I found on the net….”
“In 1985, Aerosmith played a show at The Manning Bowl (A dilapidated High School Footbal field) in Lynn, Massachusetts with Foghat and another Boston band, Farenheit. It was Joe Perry’s birthday. About 20 of us made the trek to Lynn that day. It was a typical, hot, Indian Summer day in New England – perfect for a beer-filled, outdoor show. However, none of us were prepared for the scene when we arrived at the Bowl.
The 20,000-seat, football field was overrun with people, a lot of them bikers and local Lynn thug-types. There was an especially large showing from one of the local motorcycle gangs, called the Rumpot. When Aerosmith finally hit the stage, a couple of 1/2-naked metal chicks decided to push beyond a thick row of bikers. About two minutes later, one of them was dragged back by her hair, covered in blood by the biggest biker I have never[sic] wanted to see in my life.
The crowd, hot and agitated by Foghat’s way-too-long set, was surging forward toward the stage. People were being dragged over the stage barrier in various stages of injury and unconsciousness. Nobody was sitting in the stands, and the crowd of about 20,000 were all on the field. I’ll never forget the look of fear on Tyler’s face as he implored the crowd to move back or they would have to stop playing. This rationale only made the crowd angrier and Tyler and the bad boys from Boston pulled the plug after about an hour or so after taking the stage.”
Yeah it was even worse than that, it was straight up chaos, and I judged all concerts against this one because I can’t count how many times I thought I was going to die during this one show. I was 10 to 15 rows in front stage left. I was a “young teen” but this was not my first crazy show, and I soon found myself all alone as all my cousins were swept up in the crowd. I was surrounded by Hells Angels who were handing out strange colored pills to everyone and passing me Jack Daniels & Southern Comfort (everyone drinking from the bottle, lucky I got no diseases!). There was so much dope smoke in the air (just sitting there and not circulating) that was all the air available to breathe. Luckily they were nice to me despite their reputation ( I will not get into that either) but not to others. I was literally out of my mind as was everybody else, note to self that I was not violent, they were.
Someone mentioned in a prior post, that a guy on LSD was climbing up on a metal lighting and radio tower as high as he could and they were trying to get him down but he would not. The crowd began chanting and baiting him over and over to “Jump, Jump, Jump”.
The situation with the fights had to do with a lot of gangs who wanted their space preserved in a stadium that holds 15,000 but was over capacity setting a record at 25,000, I don’t think so. Anyway the crowd was angry because Aerosmith were taking way too long to get on stage (ahem…party!) and it was extremely hot and everyone was stoned drunk. One guy fell off the upper wall down into the parking lot around the stadium and broke his back.
When Aerosmith hit the stage fights were breaking out everywhere, blood was everywhere, bottles getting smashed over peoples heads and thrown at the stage as the crowd surged forward. Tyler was attempting to maintain an unsuccessful balance of putting out fires and setting them. People were yelling obscenities at him and a lot of people were really getting hurt so the next thing Steven says, and I paraphrase but this was the gist: Tyler to group of people fighting – “You wanna fight Muther F’r….you wanna F with me! F with this…My fist your face!” and they roared into their new track “My fist your face!” Provocative to say the least and of course the fights and surge got worse. Hamilton, Whitford, and Kramer looked disturbed while after trying several times, stops and starts, Steven just gave up and went for broke. The concert had to end due to the chaos but for the time when they were playing…it felt as if time had stopped and it would never end.
Anyway they sure did give us all one to remember…however that should be interpreted that is up to you. Even though the show was over, the chaos was not by a mile. I was exhausted from the crowd having their way with me. So I went to the parking garage outside the stadium and people were rioting, not embellishing here. It started in the parking garage above where we were parked on the main street. First people were throwing coins from the roof and cars where getting dinged all over the place and every time a girl would show her stuff, the crowd would egg them on for more.
As cars pulled out of the parking garage people would dump the ice from coolers and full beer bottles and cans on them from the roof. Every woman walking by was taunted, “Take it off, Take it off!” over and over. Once they ran out of dropping ice and bottles next came empty coolers and books and shoes etc… Hitting the cars below and if they got a hit every one would cheer on. Someone got a smashed windshield and they drove over the curb nearly hitting large groups of people because the cars were not moving.
Then came the doosey[sic] someone started throwing huge parts of a torn off muffler on to the cars below. No police…I was scared and quite worried at what I was witnessing, complete anarchy, but again my adrenaline was sure on high. You know the kind of anarchy where there was no one to break it up…scary stuff. Anyway it was about two hours of sitting in the car watching this all unfold before we got out of there, just some dings in the car surface. It was just as crazy outside as in.
With all that said, I could go on with endless things I saw that day and other days but you get the picture. So that brings me back to my original premise…why was I drawn to situations where I put myself in danger. I already told you about the rush from being in an environment that was out of my control. What it comes down to is a spiritual experience…humanity at it’s worst and greatest all at the same time. Whatever your and my beliefs are is inconsequential to this story. When I would leave whatever show it was where chaos ensued, I would sit in the car for the ride home and reflect on little snapshots and images in my mind. Closing my eyes, fully exhausted, I had reached a peak. I felt cleansed, reborn, and at peace….oftentimes in the presence of pure evil.
Today this kind of thing is a rare occurrence as we have not seen a chaotic rise of a band since the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana. I know some of the festivals in Europe and South America have similar situations happen. Still think about today in 2014, it has been 25 years since we’ve had a band with a popularity explosion so powerful that every show that particular artist played there was no way to know what would happen, your life would literally be in their hands. That is power my friends and I guess for better or worse that rarely exists anymore. I’m not saying that there have not been any bands in 25 years have not had a massive explosion of success, just that there has not been a cultural upheaval because of a band since the 90’s. I actually think that the end of upheavals happened at the 1999 Woodstock reunion weekend of violence, that was really bad.
Many will say this is a good thing, and I would agree that violence toward others in any form will not be missed. The thing I do worry about is the state of music…even EDM DJ’s are pleading with producers to strive to make better music because there is so much garbage. Sure there are great new rock bands, and the old favorites still going strong, but more in a superficial way in a world where everyone thinks of themselves as potential celebrities. I don’t know the answer…I cannot say where the happy medium is between outright chaos and musical brilliance. One thing I do know is that when we have a new artist that hits us the same way Nirvana did (whether you like them or not) we sure will know it, but will it ever happen again? Is that chapter over?
I am happy to say that I no longer seek out that chaos and that I no longer have to be a “Lifeguard of Death”. When the next upheaval comes I will sit in the bleachers or dance the night away with friends in a nice little area that I have staked out for myself. I guess the youth of today will never know what it was like and they’re all the better off for it, or are they? Everyone can continue to climb mountains, skydive, and bungee jump to get there kicks…that way they can say that their passions are pure and do not have to do it the way I did, looking pure evil right in the eye.
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