Sepultura -- Chicago, IL -- December 9th, 1990
Tour: Beneath the Remains
Support: Obituary & Sadus
Turned Inside Out
Find the Arise
Cause of Death
Circle of the Tyrants
Slowly We Rot
Words of Evil
Troops of Doom
Stronger Than Hate
Slaves of Pain
Escape to the Void
Symptom of the Universe
Beneath the Remains
I recently ran across an old box of some of my old cassette bootlegs. I’ve had the luxury to occasionally track down shows I actually went to, in fact, this is usually my main criteria when looking for bootlegs. Anyway, I can confirm the set list from the bootleg, but in addition to the bootleg I did actually go to this show. Pease bear with me if there are any inaccuracies as this was over 20 years ago. Also, the number one thing I remember about this show is how incredibly crowded the venue was so please excuse me if this review sounds more about the capacity than the show itself:
When we first got to the venue there was already a line a block or so long, but this was common for shows back then, people always showed up super early to shows even though you could theoretically show up at the last second and “muscle” your way to the front. It was more or less just an excuse to socialize before the show. The first thing I noticed upon taking my place in line was that security seemed a little “extra anxious.” While security was always super tight at these smaller underground club shows, they seemed a little extra on edge this time. I then overheard some of the bouncers saying amongst themselves something about “700 pre-sale.”
Even though advance tickets were available at Ticketmaster, most people still waited till the day of the show and simply bought “at the door,” so a large pre-sale was pretty significant. Also, the “700 pre-sale” was probably already at, or possibly even over the legal capacity of the venue. I have no idea what the legal capacity was, but it was definitely exceeded that night. More on that later:
Anyway, despite the long line we had gotten there early enough to be inside before the show actually started so I did catch all three bands. I did catch Sadus and I do remember liking them, but like most of the crowd I was mainly there for Sepultura and Obituary. People were still trickling in during Sadus’ set so the venue wasn’t insanely packed yet, but that was soon to change as by the time Obituary took the stage we were all sandwiched in like sardines in a trash compactor.
Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s circle pits were all the rage and when Obituary started played the venue damn near exploded. Despite the fact that circle pits were popular back then, the place was literally so crowded there was no room for a true circle pit, instead the entire floor just kinda swayed back and forth and left and right. There were some attempts to start pits but they were unsuccessful, it just wound up being a lot of pushing and shoving. Unfortunately during Obituary I got elbowed in the mouth and got my upper lip busted open and I couldn’t take the crush of the crowd anymore so I said “f--- it” and went to the back bar and got an OJ (I was only 18 at the time, so I couldn’t drink, plus the venue was a juice bar anyway.) Unfortunately, even in the back it was still wall to wall people with no breathing room!
Obituary was touring for “Cause of Death” and before anyone asks, in an “I wish I knew then, what I know now” moment I was totally oblivious as to whether or not James Murphy was still with Obituary at this time. Even if I did care at the time there was no way to really tell: Between the venue having somewhat of a low stage, the venue being totally over-sold, and my own short stature (I’m only five foot, five inches tall) I could barely even see the stage. Even before I took shelter in the back of the room, when I was attempting to get close I could only make it about half-way to the front and even at my best sight-line all I could see over the crowd of the band was the top’s of everyone’s head’s, but not their faces. Going back and listening to the bootleg I feel secure saying that James Murphy was still with them at this point, but I freely admit I could be wrong.
The one thing that surprised me most about the show was that were actually more people there for Obituary than Sepultura. There wasn’t a mass exodus or anything like that, but a significant amount of people did leave after Obituary. Unfortunately the venue was so ridiculously over-sold the place just went from “total fire code violation” to “minor fire code violation.”
Like I said during Obituary it was so crowded that everyone on the floor just kinda swayed back and forth, well I guess it was also so crowded the crush of the crowd almost knocked over the venue’s PA! Before Sepultura took stage either the head of security or the show promoter came onstage and A) begged everyone to “take a step back” and B) threatened to cancel the rest of the show if we didn’t. I remember he also explained how the PA almost came down, and that if you were the person responsible you would have 899 people pissed off at you. So I guess in addition to the 700 pre-sale they sold another 200 at the door and capped the show off at 900. Like I said earlier I don’t know what the legal capacity of the venue was, but it was definitely not 900! Once again sorry to keep harping about the capacity, but I’m 40 now and I’ve been going to concerts since I was 13 and this show had to be the most dangerously over-sold show that I ever went to.
By the time Sepultura took the stage myself and most of the crowd seemed out of it. They did put on a great show, but the energy level in the room was just not as high as it was for Obituary. Also, more people continued to trickle out. I’m not sure if they were Obituary fans who just wanted to catch a few Sepultura songs before they bailed or if they were just “walking wounded” and completely worn out.