Insane Fight Erupts During Swedish Symphony Over Noisy Gum Wrapper

Joseph Okpako/Redferns/Getty Images
Joseph Okpako/Redferns/Getty Images

Concertgoers at a performance of Gustav Mahler's Fifth Symphony in Sweden recently had reason to wonder whether they'd mistakenly wandered into a death metal show. That's because at the end of the piece's fourth movement, a fight erupted in one section of the audience over the sound of a woman's rustling bag of gum. 

Gum?! At a symphony?! The nerve!

The brouhaha went down last week in Malmo, Sweden, where the visiting German Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra was performing one of Mahler's most famous works. As listeners were rapt in the emotional ups and downs of the three early movements of his Fifth Symphony, a woman sitting in the balcony irked the man sitting next to her when she apparently rustled a bag of gum a bit too loudly for his liking, according to a report from The Washington Post. He then proceeded to glare at her before eventually snatching the bag and throwing it onto the ground.

You would think that would be the end of it, this being an event full of symphony-goers wearing presumably symphony-appropriate attire, but you would think wrong. It wasn't until a bit later that things got really ugly.

Witnesses told the local Sydsvenskan newspaper that the woman sat calmly after the man grabbed her bag of gum, but turned and said something to him just after the fourth movement's finale, before smacking him in the face and knocking off his glasses. That's when the woman's male companion got up, grabbed the gum-snatcher by the shirt, and started punching him. 

Onlookers were understandably shocked, but things seemed to cool off quickly. Then, as the woman's male companion walked toward the younger man as if to proffer an apology, he punched the guy again, and concertgoers were forced to intervene to keep the peace. 

"It was very unpleasant actually. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Olof Jonsson, who was seated just behind the two opposing factions, in an interview with Sydsvenskan.

The whole incident, while slightly embarrassing for the venue, actually provided a good opportunity for them to remind people not to act like damn fools at the symphony. In fact, it posted a special note on its website which essentially said that drinking beer and eating is cool to do while you're watching live sports, but that you should probably avoid bringing your snacks into “a concert hall with world-class acoustics.”

Or at least find a quieter receptacle for your stash of Juicy Fruit.

h/tThe Washington Post

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.