Stage Dive: Worst Venue Experience?

So here’s the thing, we’ve been to a lot of shows in a lot of different environments over the years, from small clubs to massive outdoor amphitheaters. Naturally, we have developed opinions of the venues and shows we’ve been to over time. But the thing is, it’d be way too easy to pick out the best experiences from all these shows. For example, I’m sure we’d both feel rather highly of our Iron Maiden and Rammstein experiences. So let’s go in the opposite direction here for this week’s Stage Dive:


Photo courtesy of the Missoula Independent
Photo courtesy of the Missoula Independent


I’m going to regret this choice but here it goes. I have grown incredibly fond of my Greater Boston venues. Even The Palladium out in Worcester, which I shit on constantly. Frankly, this particular establishment would have been a no-brainer. But based on how often I’m there, I’ve grown used to its atrocious management and horrendous crowds. My downtown Boston venues I have nothing but good experiences with. Especially with The Sinclair, which has been home to two of my top ten metal shows of all time (headlines being The Ocean and Wintersun). Even the bigger indoor arenas and amphitheaters have been good to me. So I’m actually traveling for this one. My choice for worst venue experience goes to The Music Hall of Williamsburg, out in Brooklyn, on July 26, 2012. Here’s the kicker: I’m going to provide a positive image (that is a very dear memory of mine) of said venue.

(Above photo courtesy of Wyatt Marshall / Invisible Oranges)

Here’s the thing: this is also one of my best experiences because it marked the first time I saw Agalloch. They didn’t disappoint. It was the hour that preceded Agalloch that leads me here. For one, I had to wait until well after… 11 pm, I believe it was, for Agalloch to take the stage. That’s a long night, but forgivable. Late shows are late shows. However, before Agalloch, our ears were provided incessant noise by a duo known as Taurus. For one, the music wasn’t good. In fact, it was bad. But the real issue I had was that it was so. fucking. loud. It actually hurt. It was a level of harshness in sound I had never experienced. Naturally, we all walked out into the lobby where, believe it or not, we had to keep our ear plugs in. Also, the lobby became absolutely packed with like minded fans, which was tedious albeit understandable. The sound… the environment. All of it. Just really bad. Taurus live in infamy with us for a reason. Talk about a mood killer. And beyond that, the preceding act was Musk Ox, who were awesome. Would have been the perfect opener for Agalloch. Don’t believe me? Nathanaël Larochette was featured on the latest Agalloch release, which is a brilliant album. If Taurus wasn’t on the bill this very well may have been my best concert experience of the year. In fact, there’s little doubt in my mind of that. Musk Ox to Agalloch sounds absolutely incredible. But the hour long Taurus headache absolutely ruined that. Now, the venue didn’t choose Taurus, but they did host this performance. And it was their acoustics that literally sent us away from the stage area. So for that, it holds the title as worst venue experience. I can’t believe my worst venue experience is some way tied to Agalloch. I hate myself.


Having been at the very show Corey describes, I can fully attest to Taurus’ awfulness. I’m going to take my entry in a different direction though; instead of worst experience at a venue, I’m simply going to describe the worst venue I’ve been to. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the venue I’ve chosen is an arena, as this has been my least favorite type of venue for basically as long as I’ve been going to concerts. It’s not so much a bias against big spaces (I’ve got no problem with bandshell or festival settings), so much as one against big spaces with assigned seats, often mediocre acoustics, and overpriced tickets. (Although, funny enough, the three best shows I’ve ever been to–including the one that inspired this entry–have all been arena shows. Go figure.) In any case, my venue of choice is the Nassau Coliseum, in Uniondale, NY, where I attended my second Rammstein show in April 2012.


The Coliseum played host to the NYC-metro-area stop on Rammstein’s “Made in Germany 1995-2011″ greatest hits tour–a show that, in spite of the location, wound up being my second-favorite show of all time.  (Paul McCartney’s still No. 1 and I don’t know that that will ever change.) My issues with the venue took hold before the gig even began. For starters, the place is almost two miles away from the nearest Long Island Railroad stop–Hempstead–thus forcing us to take a shitty, sketchy minicab ride from the station to (and later, from) the arena. Fifteen dollars and almost two hours later, we enter the venue and take our upper-tier seats, only to find that standing up–which,OF COURSE we’re going to do at a rock concert–resulted in our view being partially blocked by the luxury boxes, which, yes, were at the top of the arena, hanging down over the cheap seats. Because whoever designed this arena/even conceived of an ice hockey team playing on Long Island/has kept this shithole open and the team playing in it for more than 40 years is a fucking moron.

In the end, we wound up making our own fun and moving to a different section. (Because, oh yeah…security? Nonexistent at this place) And as fate would have it, the section we moved to happened to be the one the band ENTERED THE ARENA THROUGH…and then, you know…proceeded to melt our faces off for the next two hours. Incredible show, proving that a good enough band can excel even in the shittiest of venues. Which Nassau Coliseum undoubtedly is.

What do you think? Post your choices in the comments section and let us know!

Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.