Any metalhead in the New England area probably has fond memories of the Worcester Palladium. Home to the New England Metal and Hardcore Fest for as long as we can remember, the 2,160-capacity theater has also played host to the annual Rock and Shock festival and countless other tours. Now, word comes via Worcester Mag that the venue may be demolished in order to create parking for the courthouse across the street.
Word spread to the Worcester Mag office pretty quickly on Tuesday that the owners of the Palladium were filing – or at least threatening to file – paperwork for the demolition of the music hot spot and regional Juggalo headquarters in order to create more parking for the courthouse across the street. Worcester attorney and Palladium owner John Fischer, when asked to comment on the rumors, said he hadn’t made a decision yet but added, “It has a lot to do with taxes.” Like a number of the city’s commercial property owners, the Palladium has seen a huge spike in its fiscal year 2012 assessment and subsequent tax bill, jumping from an assessed value of $689,000 in 2011 to $2.27 million this year. “We’re still debating what we’re going to do,” Fischer lamented. “We’ll know by August 1.”
That would be unfortunate. As attendees of multiple NEMHFs, the place has a certain faded charm to it. Its two stages on separate floors were an ideal setting for the festival, and it was exciting to see bands ranging from Mastodon to Municipal waste graduate from the smaller stage upstairs to the larger one downstairs. Also, it’s amazing to know that as recently as last year, the venue’s value was worth under $700k. And just as ridiculous to know that it’s apparently worth as much as it is now. The higher assessed value means that rent is likely to go up, which is why the owner would potentially knock it down. It might be somewhat of a shithole, but it’s OUR shithole, and the loss of the Palladium as a venue would be a loss for music fans in Worcester, Boston and beyond.
A request for comment by NEMHF producers Mass Concerts was unanswered at the time of this post’s publishing, and at this point, their web site lists concerts still taking place at the Palladium through October.
UPDATE: Mass Concerts has gotten back to us, first in a tweet, then in an official statement. “Despite false rumors of the Palladium closing we are open and have no plans to close our doors. We will continue to bring great live music to Worcester please check our schedule for upcoming shows and events.”
In addition, they urge that anyone that’s patronized the venue reach out to Worcester City Hall to voice their concern of the venue shutting down. “This is THEIR venue, they are the ones spending money in Worcester, not just with us, but with the area restaurants during our shows,” they told us. “Our patrons bring in revenue to the city, and [the] city just doesn’t realize the economic impact the Palladium patrons have.” I can agree with that. While I’m not from Worcester, as a NEMHF vet, I know that the several bars and restaurants in the vicinity did a steady business when I was there. I also recall venturing several blocks down Main Street 6pm on a Saturday one year and thinking that the place was a ghost town outside of the immediate vicinity of the Fest. If the Palladium goes away, there’s 2,200 less potential customers on any given night, and no one wants to see their downtown become less vibrant.
Patrons of the Palladium and fans of metal are urged to contact Worcester City Manager Michael O’Brien at [email protected]worcester.ma.us and the guy who “assessed” the higher taxes: William J Ford: [email protected]. He can be reached at (508) 799-1175.