Where We Live: The Palladium – Worcester, MA

Worcester is kind of a strange city in Massachusetts. Despite the fact it is nowhere near as large or chaotic as Boston, it houses a large portion of my family, has over ten colleges, is in the relative center of the state, and can be reached within an hour or so from most state borders to Massachusetts. And believe me, there are only so many places New Englanders can go to see good live shows. Worcester is also home of the Palladium, a small venue that somehow attracts the wildest of music fans. Therefore, it’s no surprise the Palladium never has a problem filling up with eager, New England riff-raff – ready for a great experience to take place. Plus, the tickets are always cheap.

The Palladium is right off the highway in Worcester, on the city’s main road. However, it’s not the easiest venue to find despite its (somewhat) convenient location. The Palladium is truly camouflaged by the local surroundings. It doesn’t look like the type of place where 311 or Tech N9ne might be playing from the outside, but more like a factory that is on the verge of going out of business. Most concertgoers though, find this feature intriguing more than disappointing. “The beat-up old state gives it a comfortable feel,” one Palladium regular, Bill Stecchi, says. “It’s awesome because it’s old and small.”

Another concertgoer by the name of Steve Miln describes the Palladium as an “intimate” setting between you and the band. He does not mean it in the sense of that show on IFC (Dinner with the Band), but in that small crowd type of sense. Even if you’re not like me and feel the need to be so close that the vocalist is basically spitting on you, there is no such thing as a bad seat.”  The Palladium even has an upstairs venue, where smaller bands play. Even though the ceiling is falling down in some places, the bathrooms smell like burning shit, and the entire hall is no bigger than a cafeteria, it feels like a good place to see a show, and harnessing a feeling is a wonderful moment in the human experience.

While the venue itself offers a wonderful time, the acts they book are nothing short of awesome. “You will never see rock-radio-heavyweights at the Palladium, as it caters to a more dedicated crowd of music listeners,” Miln also says. While Green Day and the Kings of Leon might never play there, the Palladium has always booked acts that span the furthest genres in music, and also span popularity. Plenty of local acts have played there, mainly in the hardcore and metal genres, to display their small-time, sonic boom. But at the same time, some of the biggest names in music history have played there such as the Misfits, Wu-Tang Clan, the Disco Biscuits, Blink-182, Insane Clown Posse, Bob Dylan (what?), Moe., and Prince. Not to mention the fact that bands like Killswitch Engage have filmed live DVDs at the Palladium, and the fact that traveling festivals (like Skate Fest and Metal Fest) make stops at the Palladium every time they tour the nation.

“The bands that come here always rage, so in return, the local crowd feeds off that energy. It can be devastating,” Bill Stecchi adds. This is definitely true. The tight dance floor, the wide variety of music, the abundance of beer (in and out of the venue), the cheap tickets and one-of-a-kind atmosphere all combined, make the Palladium an exciting, if not terrifying place to see a show. This is the exact same place I once got my jaw knocked out of place during a Badfish (Sublime tribute band) show. That’s more of a timeless anecdote than it is a cautionary tale, however. In sum, the Palladium is for people who really care about seeing good music, rather than just seeing a show. The quality of the building might be an issue, but the quality of the show is incredible, and that’s what really matters.

The Palladium
261 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01608
(508) 797-9696

To view a complete schedule of upcoming events, click here.


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