The following is an excerpt from the book No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of the Legendary City Gardens by Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steven DiLodovico. All photos by Ken Salerno.
Killing Time/Vision/Dandelion – December 12 1993
Carl Porcaro: (Killing Time, guitarist): Randy tried to charge us once for people stagediving at a show. There was a time when—and I know this happens everywhere and we understand this - it seemed like every show you played the promoters were going crazy about stopping the kids from stagediving. I am sure it coincided with some tragedy. We all remember kids who got badly hurt, or in some cases died, from stagediving. Randy, as a result of something that had happened there, initiated this rule where the bands would get charged money for each stage dive… it’s fucking hilarious. I wonder if he’ll even remember that shit happened.
Randy Now: That never happened. The most logical thing I could think of was maybe a band invited people up to jump off after we had said DON’T, and I took money away from them. You know, this whole stage diving thing is like, “Hey, can I come over you house and jump up and down on your furniture? Can I jump up and down on the hood of your car? Can I break something that’s yours?” We let kids stage dive for years at dozens— if not hundreds— of shows until, as the saying goes, someone got their eye poked out. That’s what started happening: Kids were getting seriously hurt, and we were getting sued by parents, over and over. It got so bad that when a certified notice came in the mail, those yellow notices that you have to sign—I think they are pink now—we were afraid to open it.
Carl Porcaro: With Killing Time, we never made a huge deal about money in the early days. We were about playing as many shows as possible anywhere we could. But there was this one gig at City Gardens, this gig with Dandelion in December of ’93, where we were getting a reasonably good amount of money, and we were really psyched. And then [Randy] had this rule about stagediving. So immediately, from the first song, someone is diving and this bouncer, the guy from Crucial Youth [Jim Norton], is doing the tally! He’s actually counting stage divers one by one!
Randy Now: The story about getting Jim Norton to count stage divers… that’s ridiculous.
Jim Norton (City Gardens bouncer/stage manager): If that show was in December ‘93, then it definitely was not me. In ‘93 I was on tour throughout all of December. I came home from Montreal on the night of the 23rd. I was home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I had to get glasses on the 26th, and I flew out on the 27th. It was not me.
Carl Porcaro: Norton’s counting the number of dives so Randy could charge us for them later! It was a great show, too. Everything was cool. Afterwards we go back to get paid by Randy, and he fucking tells us that we’re not getting paid, that we used up all our money on stage dives! Dude, it was hysterical! It would have been a decent payday for a hardcore band in the early ‘90s.
Dave Franklin (Vision, vocals): I remember the [stagediver fine] policy. There was a time when Vision was guaranteed $700, which for us was a lot of money, and I think we ended up with $100 because there were six stage dives. And it was all by people who came with us, all the crew guys! Maybe even a couple by me. I don’t know if I got docked for stagediving or not! The policy had been going on for a while. The cool thing about City Gardens was there was never a barricade. You were pressed right up against the stage, and all you had to do was pull yourself up. If it was a crowd-participation thing, [club management] didn’t give you a hard time. But if it was the guys in the band diving into the crowd, or your crew members, or some of your friends, then you got waffled $100 per dive.
Carl Porcaro: The band would get charged. I don’t remember the exact amount with Randy, but, yeah, he was trying to charge us per stage dive! So, we start playing and, of course, fucking immediately, like the first song, somebody’s on stage and they do a stage dive. City Gardens was the real deal for stagediving, too. It was a really high stage. You’d get some serious air, you know?
Jim Norton: That sounds very Randy. Right there, for better and worse, that is very Randy. I think he realized, as he was saying things to these bands like, “I’m going to charge you $100 per dive” that there was no way he was going to be able to make it stick. If he did actually try to make it stick, they would probably have set his car on fire. At the very least someone was going to mysteriously disappear from the parking lot, and word’s going to get around real fast. There are definitely promoters who do things like that, but that was not Randy’s style.
Roger Miret (Agnostic Front, vocals): I do remember that “no stagediving” rule. I think Randy might have tried to charge us, too. Agnostic Front shows were always nuts, and Randy would always get on our case about our guys diving. The shows were always nuts… plenty of punching people, kicking people… one of things I was notorious for was swinging the mic and hitting people in the head. I used to jump off stage and walk on top of the crowd. That was another one of my things. I was always a maniac up on that stage. We never paid it, though. I mean, it’s a hardcore show.
Dave Franklin: The bands only got wacked with the penalty if they were the ones diving. If the people diving were in the crowd, and not part of your crew or part of the band and got up there and did it on their own, you weren’t responsible for it because you had no control over it. There was one night where the show was so great, and the crowd was so pumped that we didn’t care about losing the money. Nobody in the band even gave a shit. As a matter of fact, I think that three or four of our stage dives were from the band members. Everybody except the drummer, and we got docked $500. I guess I thought that this was common knowledge. A lot of it, too, wasn’t until the later days of City Gardens, like the ‘92, ‘93, ‘94 era, when all the lawsuits started happening. I guess the way they thought they could control it was by docking everybody’s pay. Most of the bands didn’t give a shit, because when you were in the heat of the moment and it was off the chain, everybody was like, “Let’s GO, man!”
Jim Norton: While I was definitely not involved with the $100-perband- member fee, I could see [why Randy might implement the policy]. But, again, he booked the show. There’s going to be 400 people there paying ten bucks a head, he still looked at that and said, “Okay.”
Randy Now: My Saturn turned into an ambulance for taking kids over to the hospital, which luckily was two blocks away. It was getting to be every show that someone was hurt bad. You know these bands, maybe they are talking about one or two shows they played or attended, but hey, I was at EVERY SHOW, EVERY WEEK, and I’m telling you, kids were breaking bones. One guy laid on the floor paralyzed until an ambulance and EMTs came and literally scooped him up. A few times I would say I was going to cut a band’s pay, but I usually gave them what they were originally told, it was sometimes said to just keep them in order during their time there. I remember more times giving bands bonuses, and I mean BIG bonuses. I loved Shelter, and, as a quasi-1960s era Hare Krishna fan, I gave Ray [Cappo] and John a few hundred dollars extra. I would tell them to give it to the temple. We always shared when the night was a home run at the door.
Carl Porcaro: Anthony [Comunale, vocalist for Killing Time] was not having it. He went fucking crazy back there! It was just me, Randy, and Anthony. At one point, Anthony was up on the guy’s desk screaming about how we were not going to get charged and we were going to get every cent of our money! And you know what? We got paid! We walked out of there with everything we were supposed to get. I think in the face of such a tremendous argument, Randy realized he was being ridiculous. I’m sure he got away with charging some band somewhere along the lines. I guess we caught him on a particularly bad week, and he was trying to do something about it.
Anthony Comunale (Killing Time, vocalist): I don’t know what Randy is saying, because he definitely tried to charge us. He said our roadies were stage diving, which was true. Randy didn’t want to pay us, so I was jumping on his desk, giving examples of stage dives, and he thought I was nuts. Eventually we settled it, and everything was fine. City Gardens also had those silly “no flight jackets or Doc Martens” rules. It was just fashion. Give me a break.
Marc Wasserman (Bigger Thomas, bassist): Randy instituted the infamous “No Doc Martens” policy, which pissed a lot of skinheads off. Looking back on it, it was actually a really clever way to deal with that. You know, you could wear anything but Doc Martens, and even a lot of the S.H.A.R.P skinheads were pissed off. That was one of those things where Randy was forced to come up with a creative way to deal with a problem that, potentially, could have shut the club down, because there was a lot of violence.
Anthony Comunale: But I guess Randy had a point. My cousin Mike is paralyzed from someone stagediving on him. Randy was just being cautious, and I respect that. Overall, his heart was in the right place