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Violence at Dave Matthews Concert

August 9, 1999

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A night after scuffles broke out and one car was torched, violence again erupted outside a Dave Matthews Band concert when riot police were pelted with rocks and bottles.

More than a dozen people were arrested Sunday night on charges including assault on an officer, rioting and property damage, said Hartford Police Sgt. Ed Pawlina.

The melee comes two weeks after the three-day Woodstock ’99 concert ended in an ugly orgy of violence, with tractor-trailers set ablaze, vendor stands overrun and authorities pelted with bottles.

Sunday’s concert was the last date on the Dave Matthews Band tour this year and the third consecutive show at Meadows Music theater.

Pawlina said there were no problems inside the theater but police had to contend with ``a heavy barrage″ of rocks and bottles in lots surrounding the arena.

Pawlina said the situation was ``out of control″ at about 9:15 p.m., but most of the crowd began leaving by 11 p.m. after the concert ended. Empty beer and liquor bottles and littered the parking lots and streets around the theater.

City councilman Lou Watkins, chairman of the city’s public safety committee, said there were minor injuries but nobody was seriously hurt.

``It’s not a riot,″ he said. ``We’ve got some rowdy concertgoers. Actually, they’re not concertgoers, they’re people who didn’t get in. The police department is doing a good job.″

Witnesses said police began using tear gas and pepper spray at an unruly crowd in a nearby parking lot where a local band was playing. One crowd member threw a bottle at a police officer, hitting him in the jaw, they said. The officer responded by spraying the bottle-tosser and other officers began moving in, said witnesses.

``Before the tear gas came, everyone just started throwing bottles. They were like birds in the sky swooping down,″ said Jeff Bogino, 19, of Avon.

``It was like a rainstorm of bottles,″ said his friend, Ben Reder, 19, of West Hartford.

In another parking lot, witnesses said a dozen officers pushed hundreds away as the doors were opened. They said people began throwing objects at the officers because they felt intimidated and angry.

During Saturday’s melees, police set up a command post and took crowd control measures. A Volkswagen Jetta near the theater was set afire. Bogino said more than a dozen cars were set on fire Saturday.

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