Where We Live: Comcast Center (aka Great Woods) – Mansfield, MA

Where We Live

It’s the peak of every young New Englander’s summer experience. Ever since I was old enough to shave, a quest to the Comcast Center, formerly known as Great Woods, and later the Tweeter Center, was an event that was about 90% likely to take place. It’s not that Great Woods is particularly in a captivating location (right off Interstate 595), and there honestly isn’t too much that separates it from every other amphitheater you have probably ever set foot in (a big hill, a stage, some seats), but it’s the sense of civic pride one gets when they go to a show there. Remember, half of the concert experience is feeling the sense of unity when all the people from your stomping grounds are together in one place, celebrating the music they love.

If you know somebody from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, or Rhode Island, then chances are they saw one of their favorite bands at Great Woods. At least it used to be called Great Woods, until Tweeter bought it in 1999, and then Comcast bought it in 2008. As long as it’s stood, more than enough of my favorites have rambled through to dominate the hillside in my tenure of attendance. Bands like 311, Blink 182, Phish, Radiohead, Tom Petty, A Tribe Called Quest, Nine Inch Nails, Jane’s Addiction, Eminem, Pearl Jam, the Allman Brothers, etc, etc have all made the hill that is Great Woods crumble to its knees due to their ability to turn that place into a giant shit storm. This is usually most Northeasterners’ chance to see some of the biggest names in music, and the fine citizens never take this event lightly. There is no other amphitheater on the entire eastern seaboard, maybe even the country, that is able to replicate the kind of experiences you can have at Great Woods.

There is one major contribution to its uniqueness: the weather. In New England, outdoor venues are at an ultimate low because there isn’t enough profit once the leaves and snow start to fall. As a result, people have to make the best out of their chance to see a live show outside. If you get lucky (and I mean lucky), you get to go to a nice evening show. Maybe two or three acts play, including some high-billed name you traveled to see, and the crisp, Massachusetts air is at the perfect temperature. As a result, the crowd is calm while the sun sets pleasantly. In this situation, the show will go smoothly, and you will get to see two amazing spectacles: a peaceful and delighted crowd at the Comcast, and your favorite band kicking some ass.

However, then there are the two extreme scenarios, both which will provide you with some priceless memories. The first of the two extremes is a total heat wave. If you go to an all-day event like the Warped Tour, Lollapallooza (when it toured in 2003, with a special thanks to Sprite Remix for saving me that day), or Download Festival, there is the possibility of highs over 100, with an intense level of humidity. This will cause fans to be rowdy, impatient, and drunk. People will level out the heat by drinking iced, eight-dollar beers and then snap at any moment (like they did when they waited for Audioslave to show up).

The second scenario is the exact opposite of that, which is a torrential downpour. You and your friends will pleasantly be sitting on the lawn, when all of a sudden, the darkest and scariest clouds you have ever seen will roll in. Then, thunder will boom and the rain will dump from the sky, as everybody around you scurries for cover. The rain may (or may not) stop, but chances are you will be soaking wet while you watch the headliner shred their hardest to make up for the damp clothing (you probably won’t be able to take any more pictures of the event, either). Both times I saw 311 here, it poured buckets, soaking the crowd through their clothes and causing the Omaha crew to play their hearts out and everybody else to fall in the mud. This causes the crowd to have the “Don’t give a fuck” attitude, as they slam-dance or regular-dance while being soaked to the bone and potentially developing a case of hypothermia.

Great Woods is nothing short of a party, either. Between the excitement of something awesome actually happening in Massachusetts, the hype of the headlining band, the level of intoxication of the crowd, the summer breeze, and the sound of the music, Great Woods is always one of the most hopping concert venues in all of the Northeast. As soon as you arrive there, you are greeted by a parking lot filled with New England’s finest, all representing their Red Sox pride and lust for beer in the sun (even though the administration frowns upon this). The crowd in the parking lot here loves to tailgate, and they are not ashamed of that. Loads of people will be in the lot for hours prior to a show, supporting their favorite bands and home turf while awaiting the music they paid huge bucks to see out in the night air. And even if you’re not in the parking lot, you can still hear the show all over Mansfield.

I guess Great Woods, aka the Tweeter, aka the Comcast Center, aka Summer Slop Fest, is indeed special after all. It’s because it is the place where we have so many memories, all of which went down while we experienced something great. Whether we got too drunk for the main event, missed the opening band, got arrested and ended up talking to security for hours, got to the front row only to get the shit kicked out of us and puke, got back stage to meet the band, or got our lighter taken by Redman at Rock the Bells, every concert is more like a chapter from Dante’s Inferno than just a standard rock-out session to the Stone Temple Pilots. The flame for New England’s love to rock its hardest will always be lit up a-top that hill in the lawn section. Good people, good times, and lawn seats…that’s really what it’s all about.

Comcast Center
885 South Main Street
Mansfield, MA 02048
(508) 339-2333

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


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