I started working security for concerts again this year. It's not a bad gig, if you don't mind taking crap from large crowds of self-centered morons: you get to hear lots of concerts, and they pay you for it. Maybe they don't pay you real well, and maybe you end up at a lot of concerts that you don't really want to hear, but still...
I actually started working concert security while I was still in the military. It was a fundraiser for the squadron: we had trained security guards, and the money that those guards would earn went to the squadron, for picnics, squadron parties and whatever else.
I started doing it again because I figured that they could pay me for it, and I have 21 years of experience working security, mostly for nuclear weapons, which didn't give me a whole lot of usable job skills that don't involve killing people. So I figured that I might as well use what I've got, and really, it's kind of nice to go back to what I have some talent in.
Here's a few things I've noticed about concert security.
1. Kanye West gave away books at the end of his concert, titled something like "Thank You and You're Welcome (a Kanye West Production)." This was a ridiculous waste of money for a number of reasons, to include:
a. The books were kind of stupid,
b. Books on manners don't go over well in the thug-lite community, and most importantly,
c. These fuckers don't READ!. I saw dozens of copies scattered in the bushes on the walk out of the venue.
2. The average concert crowd, in a venue that sells alcohol, tends to be several thousand DUI's waiting to happen. A pro-active police forceshould consider setting up alcohol checkpoints on every road out of the concert. The traffic isn't moving anyway, and putting it under active police control would only improve things; plus, it would get the drunks off the road (and I suspect that they're a good part of why the traffic can't seem to get anywhere).
3. When you're working in the seats (essentially as ushers, ensuring that the only people going into a section are the ones who belong there), you'd be amazed how many people assume that you're going to remember them. A section in Journal Pavilion contains about 20 rows, each with about 40 seats. Each entryway goes into two sections, which means that you're dealing with up to 800 people a night. And every one of them thinks that they're memorable. (OK, some of them are memorable. Like the girl in the catholic schoolgirl outfit with no underwear. But most of them? Not so much.)
4. When I'm ushering, at least once a night I get somebody seriously drunk trying to get into better seats because they're tired of General Admission (the lawn). We get drunks offering money, "I lost my ticket," and every so often somebody just tries to rush in, like we aren't going to stop them. (I only clotheslined one guy, one time, and it pretty much looked like an accident, so we're clear.)
5. I worked with a girl who had a Michael Jackson tattoo on her ankle. It turned out that she was going to Vegas to see Janet Jackson, because, as she put it, "this is probably as close as I'm going to get to Michael." In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have said "Well, if you were an underaged boy..."
I worked the Mayhem concert on two weeks ago, which consisted of Disturbed, Slipknot, and about ten bands that nobody has ever heard of, with names like Walls of Jericho, Piles of Herpes, and Manic-Depressive Psychopaths. (OK, only that first one was an actual name. The others were so ridiculously unmemorable that they all merge into one untalented mass.)
I've listened to Disturbed a few times; they aren't bad (although I didn't know that they'd done a cover of "Land of Confusion" by Genesis - Phil Collins must be so proud). But most of the bands fell into the standard speed/thrash metal model - play really loud and really fast, and nobody will hear that you really don't have a lot of talent; plus, if you scream your lyrics it doesn't matter that you can't sing, either. It was like listening to Motorhead, as produced by Phil Spector after chainsmoking pipes of crack for a week (OK, you can't really chainsmoke crackpipes - or if you can, the mechanics of it are beyond me - but you get the idea).
A couple of snapshots of the Mayhem Tour:
1. Sometimes, you can't fix all the problems, and you just have to concentrate on the little things. We can't let people stand on the chairs, for example (they fall, they get hurt, and we get sued, because you aren't allowed to let people live with the consequences of their own stupidity). So I saw a kid standing on his chair, and I told him to sit down. He complained "but I can't see through HIM!" So I kindly asked the husky guy in the cowboy hat to sit down, which led to me getting a loud, beer-soaked explanation that said, in essence "this is a rock and roll concert - this isn't Barry Manilow! If they can't see, they should stand up! This is my seat! I paid for this area right here, and I'm gonna stand in it!" (In retrospect, "So why did you pay for a chair if you don't plan to sit in it?" was probably not the best question to ask.)
2. Journal Pavilion, the venue for the concert, was open-air. It rained buckets for about an hour mid-afternoon, which cut the heat, but made the rest of the night interesting. Like, did you know that paper tickets don't stand up to rain well? And those tickets are the way we can tell what seats people belong in.
3. There was a girl in the front row of general admission who apparently spent the evening having a vertical seizure. Absolutely no rhythm, but very enthusiastic. Plus, midway through the last set, she pulled off her shirt, leaving nothing but a halter-top and shorts. With a normal woman, the way she was jumping around, you'd think that she'd pop out of the top. Fortunately for her, she didn't have anything to pop out. (There were a lot of bare-chested men with larger cup sizes wandering around the park.)
4. Also in the front row, there was a young lady with a lot more rhythm (but, sadly, similar tits, and a certain resemblance to a horse). The primary difference between them would be that this girl had a boyfriend standing behind her, grinding his crotch into her butt the entire time. I'm reasonably certain that they weren't having sex, but I'm pretty sure that the young man was getting the denim equivelant of a hand-job out of the bargain. (The French call that "frottage," if you're curious.) (There, don't say you never learn anything here.)
Last week, I worked Crue Fest - Motley Crue (which hasn't been musically relevant for about 2 decades), one band whose only hit was five or ten years ago, and a bunch of bands with one minor hit each. At least the talent level was higher than with the Mayhem tour. And oddly, the piercing-to-tattoo ratio in the audience was fairly similar in both crowds.
Hey, did you know that Motley Crue has a new album coming out? Do you really care? (If so, why?)
The oddest concert experience I've covered would have to be Vicente Fernández. For those of you who've never heard of him, he's one of the top five or so ranchero singers in the world. (Ranchero is a variation of Mariachi - I had one guy try to explain it as the country-and-western version of Mariachi, but I'm not sure I buy that one.) Some snapshots of that concert:
1. I really wanted more guitar solos. There were some spectacular players up there.
2. At almost 70, this guy can hold out a note. He also sang at full volume for about three hours; I understand that he's been fined for going over the time allotted to him by the venue.
3. This was the widest range of ages I've seen in any concert: from little children to ancient, doddering centenarians. And everybody seemed to know the words to all the songs, which they frequently sang along with, at full volume.
4. The dress to this event ranged from coat-and-tie (or bolo), through country-and-western regalia, and into gangsta-wear. There were more cowboy hats than there were at the last country show I worked.
5. There were also some of the ugliest boots I've ever seen - all kinds of colors and designs, some of them sticking out almost eighteen inches to two feet. And most of these people would probably have gotten really upset if you suggested that their pink-and-purple boots weren't particularly masculine.
Overall, if you want to hear a wide range of music, and don't care if you see the entire event, I'd recommend security. But only if you have a high tolerance for drunk idiots.