Dave Matthews Show Marred by Rioting

Dave Matthews Show Marred by Rioting

August 9, 1999 12:00 AM ET

Lately it seems that wherever the Dave Matthews Band plays, a riot breaks out. First it was Woodstock, now Hartford's Meadows Music Theater.| This past weekend, during the last two shows of the band's U.S. tour, riots erupted in the parking lot at the Connecticut amphitheater, where the band was playing a three-night stint.

The trouble began on Saturday night at around 9:30 EST, just as the band's set was getting under way. According to Sergeant Neil Dryfe, public information officer for the Hartford Police Department, nearly 1,000 non-ticketholders had gathered in one of the dozen parking lots servicing the arena. Members of the intoxicated, rowdy mob began fighting, cars were broken into and, ultimately, one car was set on fire. Dryfe says that in addition to heavy beer and liquor consumption, many in the crowd were inhaling nitrous oxide and smoking pot. As police tried to quell the situation, they were pelted with bottles and rocks, as were firefighters attempting to bring the car-fire under control. After making about fifteen arrests, police were able to calm things down by around 1:00 a.m.

To avoid a repeat incident the next night, the Hartford Police Department assembled its disorder control team, which was intended to drive crowds out of the parking area before trouble could start. As the police formed a skirmish line to remove those not holding tickets, the crowd again barraged officers with empty beer bottles, rocks and debris. Police responded by firing rubber bullets, bean-bag projectiles and pepper-spray at the crowd. The whole thing was eventually brought under control at around 2:00 a.m., by which point an additional forty arrests had been made.

No serious injuries were incurred during the two days' riots, but area hospitals did treat a number of lacerations and bruises. A spokesperson for Hartford Hospital said that their emergency room had seen a total of thirty concert-related injuries over the course of the weekend, including a stabbing and numerous trample-related injuries. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for St. Francis Hospital estimated they had seen "a couple dozen" cases of alcohol intoxication and "ten to fifteen" minor cuts and scrapes.

"[It was] just a bunch of intoxicated people with no place to go and they just started to raise hell," said Field Sergeant Dan Albert, who had been on duty both Saturday and Sunday. "It was just general hooliganism and drunkeness."

At press time, Matthews had issued no statement on the matter.

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