OTD - Van Halen Rocks The Spectrum

On March 20th and 21st 1984, Van Halen rocked The Spectrum, Philadelphia’s first modern indoor sports arena, during their 1984 album tour.  Get the story  behind the 'No Brown M&M's clause', see the setlist + find out what legendary video was shot at The Spectrum during their memorable 2-night stand. SPECTRUM'S ROLE IN HISTORY
In the years leading up to Van Halen’s show, the arena became the pinnacle of entertainment welcoming Pink Floyd and The Who numerous times during the 70s, while also hosting both The Flyers and the 76ers as their home arena. The Spectrum was the place to see rock’s greatest artists but as the 80s ushered in bands with eye popping performances, older venues like The Spectrum presented some challenges for bands like Van Halen.

VAN HALEN PRODUCTION = BIG CHALLENGES FOR OLD ARENAS
Van Halen was dedicated to delivering the best music to their fans 100% of the time, but equally driven to bringing the best stage performance.  They were among the first rock bands to bring certain types of large lighting and producton gear into many of the country's oldest arenas.  To do this safely and effectively, Van Halen made some heavy demands in their 53 page concert rider. Riders are unique and specific contract demands that bands request from venues and promoters to ensure the technical requirements of the show and their backstage accomodations at the venue are to their liking.

Backstage riders can be as simple as requests for a certain type of sandwich and a specific brand of beer.  Other riders, like Van Halen’s, were more detailed and included their notorious “No Brown M&Ms” clause.

THE WHY OF THE NO BROWN M&M's CLAUSE
The 'No Brown M&Ms clause'
required the venue to make sure that no brown M&Ms would be present in the dressing room.  As outlandish of a request as this way, Van Halen included this clause so that they would know that the venue that they were working with had read and adhered to  every detail of their rider, and had adequately prepared for their technical equipment.  If they saw brown M&Ms, it would be a tip off that the venue hadn't thoroughly read through the rider and that they would need to take extra time to make sure their technical cocerns were adhered to.  David Lee Roth described their 1984 tour as “forward thinking,” which made it even more crucial for older venues, like The Spectrum, to thoroughly read the rider.

PHILLY GETS THEIR MTV MOMENT
Van Halen famously documented one of their 'forward thinking' ideas at The Spectrum.  They recorded the scenes in which band members are 'flying across the stage' in their 'Panama' video during one of their Spectrum shows (both during the show and at soundcheck).

Roth explains the “No Brown M&Ms” clause in depth:

David Lee Roth tells the story behind the "no brown M&Ms" legend

Van Halen had a notable effect on the modern rock music tour with their use of the concert technical contract rider. They were one of the first bands to use contract riders to specify a "wish list", a practice now used throughout the music industry.

Here's the setlist:
Unchained
Hot for Teacher
Drum Solo
On Fire
Runnin' With the Devil
Little Guitars
Cathedral
House of Pain
Bass Solo
Jamie's Cryin'
I'll Wait
Everybody Wants Some!!
Girl Gone Bad
1984 synth intro
Jump
Guitar Solo
Oh, Pretty Woman
Panama
You Really Got Me
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love

Van Halen's "Panama" music video (shot at the Spectrum):

Van Halen - Panama (Music Video)

Panama music video by Van Halen