Candlebox sets off a spark

In the mid-90s, the city was in a period where there wasn’t much going on in terms of national acts visiting the area. The Tomorrow Club/Youngstown Agora, which delivered the cream of the crop in the ’70s and ’80s, was boarded up and left to rot. The Beeghly Center had gotten away from showcasing rock acts and the Covelli Centre was a pipe dream in some crazy politician’s head. Sure, there were small clubs booking good shows. If you wanted to hear someone who had a few hits on the radio, though, you were out of luck.

Youngstown State University and WNCD 106.1 FM rolled the dice on May 20, 1996 when it brought Seattle’s Candlebox to town for a show at Stambaugh Auditorium. It might have been a few years removed from the band’s peak in 1993/94 (the debut album sold 4 million copies), but this was an honest attempt at putting on a show which appealed to teens and 20-somethings. Stambaugh was several decades removed from putting on rock shows catering to the young at this point, so this was a real departure from the normal non-threatening fare that performed there (and continues to do so this day).

Reviews and first-hand accounts of the show described it as wild and overly enthusiastic. Some in the crowd of 1,925 rushed to the front of the stage when the band went on. There were stage diving attempts and there were also pleas from the band not to trash the joint. The reaction might be described as something of a release because of years of neglect regarding hometown shows. It also might have just be the reaction of wide-eyed high-schoolers and college kids enjoying their first taste of live rock ‘n’ roll. You know, like they did in the same exact place in the 1950s and 60s.

The setlist featured the big hits – including the Top 20 smash “Far Behind” – from the first album and some off the second album Lucy. If memory serves me correctly, no other rock acts at or around their peak has performed at the venue since.

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