Brawl at Symphony Hall

If you were looking for the Zapruda film answering the question, “Why are Massholes awesome?” Well consider this the proof. On opening night of the Boston Pops, featuring a set from Ben Folds, no less, two idiots got into a fight and duked it out.

One must’ve been upset that Ben Folds played “Brick.” I know that number gets all the folks in a tizzy. Actually the fight took place before Folds even took the stage. Keith Lockhart, the Pops conductor had to stop the concert to allow the ruckus to stop. Some damn good acoustics in that place.

“People with a temper like that aren’t really safe in society,” Matthew Ellinger , a 27-year-old graphic designer from Brighton, said yesterday. “If a guy is going to lose his temper at the symphony when somebody asks him to stop talking, that’s just not cool. If I were to let that go, I would be doing nobody any service.”

Ellinger was there thanks to his girlfriend, Allison Roche, 26, a regular at Symphony Hall who took him to see the Pops for the first time. But well before singer-songwriter Ben Folds, the opening night guest, took the stage at Wednesday’s sold-out concert, the couple was in the hallway, Ellinger nursing his bloody lip and providing a statement to the Boston Police.

According to various reports, Ellinger asked his assailant several times to quiet down and stop talking. Which makes sense. No one wants to listen to a dude talk through Brahms! Anyway, after asking, I’m sure very politely, in a gentle and caring way that only Boston people know how to do, the unnamed attacker turned around and punched Ellinger right in the face.

“He was jibber-jabbering with his wife or girlfriend through the entire first piece and into the second piece, so I tapped him on the shoulder with my program and gave him a little shush gesture,” said Ellinger. “Then, they keep going into the third piece. They’re still talking. So I tap him on the shoulder and say, ‘Hey, it’s the Pops here, don’t talk.’ He turns around and threatens to throw me over the balcony.”

At that point, Ellinger said, he left his seat and informed a BSO usher in the hallway about the threat. When he returned to his seat, Ellinger said, he told the man he had reported him. The man then swung at Ellinger, he said, hitting him in the face. Ellinger said the man grabbed him by his hair before they were separated.

What’s up with that? The kids can’t jibber jabber anymore at the Symphony? Jeez. But this is the best. There were some questions as to whether or not it was the crazy rock and roll crowd gathered to see Ben Folds which caused the fight.

Improper Bostonian columnist Jonathan Soroff , sitting on the Symphony Hall floor, had a perfect view.

“I never thought I’d see a brawl at Symphony Hall,” he said. “Fenway, yes.”

Soroff said he hoped the BSO didn’t somehow blame the incident on the recent Pops effort to bring more rock musicians into Symphony Hall. “It could have happened at an all-Brahms program,” he said. “People are just not always civilized.”

The BSO said it had no plans to change its programming or procedures and viewed the incident as isolated.

Maybe if they brought in Rage Against the Machine, I could see there being a valid argument. But the crowd going to see this guy? Probably not in the fighting mood…unless you jibber jabber during Brahms.

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