I’m beginning to understand why some performers stop touring. Aside from the wear and tear it takes on them personally and how it takes them away from family and loved ones, there’s having to put up with the array of idiots who show up for concerts. Why is it that people think that attending a concert gives them permission to act with complete disregard for either the performer or those in the audience around them? Perhaps more pertinent is the question of why a facility would not only be unequipped to enforce their own policies, but create an environment which fosters this sort of behaviour.
We are asked to pay upwards of $100.00 per ticket to attend an event only to be forced to put up with drunken assholes carrying on conversations at the top of their lungs, people talking on their cell phones during the concert (and talking loudly enough to make sure they can hear themselves over the music), and having our eyes continually assaulted by the illegal use of camera flash equipment.
Sure, concerts are going to be boisterous events; a large group of excited people brought together to listen to something as stimulating as popular music isn’t going to be restrained. However, considering that, is it really a good idea to sell alcohol, and allow people to take cans and bottles back to their seats, during these events? Isn’t that just adding gasoline to a fire? When I used to attend concerts back in the dark ages of the late 20th century, everybody entering the arena was at least patted down to see if they were carrying anything and bags were opened to make sure no one had cameras, recording equipment, or bottles. The latter would be confiscated while in the case of the former the person carrying them would be given the option of either leaving them with security personnel and collecting them after the concert or turning around and going home.
On Friday, April 8, 2011, someone who I’ve been wanting to see since the late 1970s performed in Kingston, Ontario. To be honest, I never thought Jackson Browne would show up here, but on Wednesday, April 6, I found out he was going to be playing at the local arena, the K-Rock Centre. After a brief flurry of e-mails I was able to not only arrange for tickets to the event but permission to photograph with Jackson Browne’s management/public relations team in California, Jensen Communications. I had originally asked about the chances of interviewing Browne, and they were most apologetic, saying that no on-site interviews were being conducted, but would I be interested in tickets and a photo pass. Even though I had already purchased tickets on my own, I gave them to a friend for a birthday present. I was thrilled. Not only could we attend the concert, my wife, who has among many careers been a professional photographer, would be able to take photos. Sure, there were stipulations – no flash, only during the first three songs, and only from the designated area – but since we figured no one else was even going to be allowed to take photos, this was great.
While I’m enormously pissed off at the facility for not only their inadequate security and lack of staffing in the arena – there was no one in the section I ended up sitting in to show people where their seats were, even after the concert started, which resulted in people trying to find their seats on their own in the dark – I have to say the individual working with the media not only did a fine job, she went above and beyond what was required. She not only did her best to accommodate the needs of each photographer, she made sure my wife, who suffers from vertigo, was escorted directly to her seat.
Of course by then I was wondering why they had even bothered with requiring us to sign a permission release for taking photos as the whole damned arena exploded with flash eruptions the second Browne took the stage. Not only that, but the press photographers were all forced to cram themselves into a nook beside the stage and shoot sideways across while standing on wires and cables. They were also the only ones who apparently had to surrender their cameras before they were allowed in to see the show, as while all around me people were taking pictures, my wife’s cameras were sitting at a security station.