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Tampa-based metal band Savatage isn't known for subtlety or graciousness. But the band members outdid themselves when they visited Boynton Beach club Orbit on May 19 as part of the group's Poets and Madmen tour, according to some of the venue's employees.

"If they come back," fumes Orbit manager Pete Gross, "we will kill them, physically."

In a statement e-mailed to Bandwidth just two days after the band's appearance, Gross charges Savatage with conduct unbecoming even a dumb, longhaired, irrelevant metal band, including a crew member's roughing up a female Orbit bartender for daring to use a backstage restroom.

"They were being cocky fuckers," says Gross. "The guy was about six foot six and about 300-something pounds, and our girl is about five-two and a buck fifteen. He grabbed her by the arm and slammed her against a wall. She was crying; she was traumatized. It took every restraint we had to call the police and have the guy arrested -- instead of just beating the crap out of him."

In Gross's account the incident (which allegedly occurred while Savatage was onstage) capped off a full day of abuse at the hands of the band and its crew. Though Gross and other employees spent the night sleeping on Orbit's floor so they could be ready to greet the band and crew with breakfast, they say they were met with hostility when Savatage finally arrived at 11 a.m. Finding that a lighting rig installed was the wrong kind, Savatage's manager threatened to cancel the show, Gross says, and then delayed setting up for sound check until the right lights did arrive, leaving local metallurgists Premonition, FAQ, Simplekill, Dark Faith, and Hibernus Mortis with no opportunity to perform. "And they laughed about it," Gross fumes.

Since the band had allegedly delayed production long enough that the doors opened four hours late and the show ran overtime, Orbit's management was concerned about clearing the room so the club could host an after-hours dance party. But when that was communicated to the band, singer Jon Oliva tried to rile up the crowd, saying, "They wanna throw all you metalheads out of here and have a rave!"

That led to Orbit's being hit with angry e-mails from concertgoers who felt they'd been short-shrifted on their hair-swinging in favor of glow sticks and Balearic beats. But Gross counters by saying the band was asked to stop only after police found the suspected bartender-assailant aboard Savatage's tour bus. "Usually we cover up when a band fucks up," says Gross. "But I'm not going to let this go. I'm telling the truth. I'm not taking this shit."

The Boynton Beach Police Department confirmed that officers arrived at the club that evening responding to a simple battery call but could produce no report of anyone arrested. "Unless it's committed in the presence of a police officer, [simple battery] normally does not result in an arrest," explains Lt. Wendi Danish. The members of Savatage, which is now on a European tour, were not available for comment, nor did the group's label, Nuclear Blast Records, desire to discuss the incident with Bandwidth.

But wait, I got another Orbit story, this one concerning the Saturday, May 26, Iggy Pop show. The 11th-hour concert didn't receive nearly as much pub as did Pop's May 27 Culture Room appearance. The result: a scant crowd of perhaps 250 in the massive room. While the band absolutely ripped and Iggy prowled the stage with a pit bull snarl through terrifying takes on "Raw Power," "I Wanna Be Your Dog," "The Passenger," and "TV Eye," the sound mix was terrifying in its own way. In fact it may have been the worst Bandwidth has ever experienced. We thought it couldn't get much worse than it was during the opening set from Delray Beach's very own Anchorman (which knew only one song, and it was a Green Day song, and the guys played it, like, eight times), what with the high end slicing our eardrums, the guitar nonexistent, and a bad-cable buzz spilling from the stage-right speaker. But Pop's even-louder set proved us wrong.

Orbit, a full-size supermarket in its past life, boasts the carefully nuanced acoustics of an airplane hangar. I'm no sonic engineer, but I have this nagging feeling that sheet-metal ceilings may not be helping matters. Thus, for all the amazing Iggyisms afoot, the resultant maelstrom was nearly deafening and rather painful. Upon leaving, our ear canals felt pressurized, as if we'd been on an airplane journey ourselves. I've been mulling over the question of which hurt more: the crappy sound or forking over six fucking dollars for a fucking bottle of Corona. Hmm.

Raving about the merits (musical and otherwise) of Shakespeare's Pub and the enjoyable scenelet it has created (Bandwidth, May 24, 2001) did not have the effect I intended. Unfortunately the British restaurant/bar/performance space is closing June 3. After a month-long renovation, the place will reopen as Slattery's Irish Pub, with a different menu, beer selection, and musical mission. Sadly, at least for the time being, this spells the end of "Poptopia," says Steve Copoletti, drummer for Whirlaway and the New Graduates and the man behind the monthly Britpop extravaganza. Sucks to be us... again.

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton

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