Sparks fly at Richard Lloyd's Brillobox show

Written by Scott Mervis on .

Richard LloydNext time there's a national act at the Brillobox, don't miss it. You never know what's going to happpen. Last month, the reclusive Jeff Mangum showed up with the Elephant 6 Surprise Tour.

Last week, sparks flew between former Television guitarist Richard Lloyd and local opening band The Gems, bringing the headlining set to a grinding halt.

Lloyd, who was born on the North Side and grew up in Homestead before moving to New York at age 7 and eventually becoming part of the famed CBGB scene, says he was excited to play his hometown on the last night of his tour.

What resulted was a fiasco.

According to Lloyd, while he and his band were adjusting equipment - including a back line supplied by the Gems - a woman from the crowd came up on stage to look out the window to see if the pizza shop across the street was open.

"I told her, ‘Miss, you have to get off the stage.' Civilians and pedestrians are not allowed on the stage. They might injure themselves or endanger the equipment. This string bean vocalist from the other band started arguing with me, ‘Hey, [bleep] you, she's just looking out the window.' "

According to Cory Allen of the Gems, "He screamed at her to get off the stage. If he had been polite about it, nothing would have happened. I never even raised my voice. I told him to please relax."

Back to Lloyd: "I was only five feet from [Allen]. I put my first finger up and said, ‘Don't talk to me like that.' His [friend], who was behind him, she rushes out. I haven't touched him. She grabs my left bicep and pushes me hard in my chest. I say, ‘Take your hands off me.' I swing my arm inwards and made it so she had to release her arm from my grip. And as I released her arm, I gave her a slight shove to create space between us."

"He pushed her to the side," Allen says.

How hard?

"I can't get into that. At a time where there were tempers are flaring," Allen says, "it's hard to say."

According to Jim Boyle, a Television fan who lives acros the street from the Bloomfield club, "This led to a shouting match between him and the couple, and culminated with a little physical scuffle between Lloyd and the woman. Nobody hit anyone or anything, but it was definitely intense and created a scene."

Back to Lloyd: "She screams out, ‘You hit a woman!' Then she rushes at me with both palms and hit me in the chest. I yelled, ‘Security!' "

At that point, Lloyd says, one of the bouncers comes up and says to Lloyd, "You're out!" "I say, ‘I'm the headliner. I have to play in like 5 minutes.' So I turned and went back on the stage and started tuning my guitar."

After five songs - which were really good, by most accounts, including Allen's - Lloyd needed to tune because he had new strings. From the back, he hears chants of "Rich-ard Lloyd! Rich-ard Lloyd! Woman beater!" which start from Allen and Gems' fans and pick up throughout the room.

"It was a protest," Allen says. "He was using my band's equipment and the two girls were two of our biggest supporters. I wasn't about to watch him play with our equipment when he treated our supporters like that."

The chant, Lloyd says, "was spreading like a virus. I very quietly put down my guitar and got off the stage and raised my voice and asked, ‘Please get the owner here, the promoter here, security here and please call the police.' I was afraid of several things. There were intoxicated people in the club and I was afraid one would have a little too much and try to be a hero. I was fearing for my own safety. I was hearing this slander from the audience."

At that point, Lloyd stepped off the stage to speak with the bouncer.

"He came out in the crowd and I thought he was going to try to fight," Allen says.

Allen and the band reacted by getting up on stage and removing the drums and the bass rig, which they had supplied.

Show over.

Lloyd says, "Many people got their money back and my deal was a straight percentage of the door, so obviously I lost money."

"He had this temper that was scary from the get-go," Allen says. "He was being a [jerk] the whole night. Really egotistical."

By Lloyd's account, everything was fine before the woman came up on stage. Now, he's concerned about what rumors will spread about the incident.

Will he come back to Pittsburgh to play again?

"Of course," he says.

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