What Happened to You?

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Aerosmith/Kid Rock/Run DMC
{ Tweeter Center }

Wednesday, September 11, 2002 3:15:29 PM
Promoter: Clear Channel Entertainment
Security: Don't know
Where: Camden, New Jersey, USA
When: 9/7/2002
Stage: indoors

Concert-going has been a lifetime passion of mine and at the age of 50, I have attended concerts all over this country..and still going. Never before have I encountered such blatant ineptitude of promoters/security at any venue as we (my 19 year old daughter and I) did at the Tweeter Center in Camden, New Jersey, September 7, 2002. During the third Aerosmith song, my daughter and I left our reserved seats to go to the lawn area for a cigarette. While we were standing on the concrete walkway area between the lawn seating and the reserved seating areas, not able to get to the lawn seating due to the large number of people, event staff "kids" began placing barracades (the reason at that time unknown) which blocked people access to their paid, reserved seats, in turn promoting a downward spiral of events. People were angry they couldn't get to their seats and began pushing/shoving to get through the crowd that was growing. When they realized a barracade was up, and told by the event staff "kids" that they would have to go out and around the building, enter through other sections and cross over to get to their seats, some people became angry and left, others left disgusted and others became physical. As my daughter and I stood there wondering what was going on, the crowd grew larger and the anger became much more verbal and physical. All of this occurred within a matter of minutes and as I turned to speak to my daughter, I was punched, very forcibly, in the back of the neck by an animalistic concert attendee trying to push her way through the crowd. The screaming, pushing, fighting, the total ugliness was very rapidly becoming out of control. At that point, a security person arrived at the barracade where the event staff "kids" were not very successful in crowd control and started literally pushing the barracade back, yelling at the top of his lungs "get back". As I was next to/in front of the metal barracade that this security person was pushing, now pushing me with it (as well as others), I was pushed into a large, concrete garbage container and couldn't move back as I was wedged. I began yelling back at the security person that I couldn't go any farther and he was pushing me into and over this garbage container. Getting to the other side of the garbage container, already enduring the sting/pain from the punch in the neck, our goal was to to get out of there and away from the madness. During this same time a woman had fallen and as many of us screamed at the security employee there was a person down and stop pushing; he didn't. Who knows what injuries this woman sustained as the security person kept pushing, even though being told by many there was someone down. We watched a few people trying to help this woman up while others just stepped on her. Security was too focused on pushing the crowd and not at all concerned about the patrons' well-being. When we got to the ground level, we asked two EMT personnel if they had Advil or something equivalent; that was my focus at that moment as my head was pounding and my neck in pain. They advised they couldn't prescribe/give out medication but took us to a medical area that was set up and provided an ice pack as a temporary measure. One of the EMTs strongly advised having a report written up...I was incident number 23 and Aerosmith had played only three songs when we went downstairs, maybe four at this point. I refused transport to the local hospital, having been informed the area hospital was not in a good area, we would probably be there most of the night and returning to Philadelphia where we were staying would be very difficult getting a cab from Camden, New Jersey to Philadelphia. Before we left the medical station area to get the ferry back to Philadelphia, we learned that injuries were a common element of this particular Aerosmith/Kid Rock/Run DMC tour. The reason for the barracade was to allow Aerosmith to come up an aisle and play from the lawn area. I think it's great that everyone gets a chance to see any band up close and a terrific opportunity for those too far away to really see the performers, but that's where great and terrific stop. It was now obvious to us that the people running/operating the Tweeter Center were fully aware of problems at other venues where Aerosmith had performed and should have put the public safety first, not the thrill of a well known, well liked band running around the arena. Why the crowd was out of control could be for many reasons but one that was obvious was the amount of drinking and drunkenness surrounding us. We watched the long lines for alcohol purchases and many, many of those buying alcohol were clearly underage. Some carding was done but for the most part, anyone could buy whatever alcohol they wanted. I am not on a band wagon about drinking; I am disgusted that a venue would act in such an irresponsible manner and provide alcohol to minors, or alcohol to already inebrieated adults, particularly when they are already aware of previous and severe problems at other venues. It's a known fact that alcohol consumption at a large event such as this, by anyone, minor and/or adult, can have serious repercussions. As is well known in this industry, a lot of the drinking goes on outside of the arena, which more than likely occurred here, too, but the kids/adults didn't bring the alcohol inside with them as everyone was searched prior to entering the arena. Obviously the money that was being made was more important than a known fact that excessive drinking at a concert can and often does lead to problems of people becoming beligerent with more alcohol consumption and subsequently people getting hurt. Kids are kids and kids are going to drink if they have the opportunity. These events are coordinated with the band personnel and the venue personnel. It was clear on this night that the venue lacked sufficiently trained personnel to accommodate the crowd, that the security personnel (the one we encountered) using bullying tactics to move a crowd was doing nothing more than promoting more trouble. Referring to the event staff "kids" is simply because that's what they are...young kids who for the most part lack any training and ability to control a crowd. It's left up to these kids to put up a barracade, block entrance and exit for patrons and to deal with the anger of the crowd. Finally, "trained" security coming in to "save the day," yelling at crowds in a bullying voice and pushing people with a metal barracade with no concern how those people are being affected, hearing people are being injured yet they keep pushing shows a complete disregard for the patrons they so welcome when they're paying but no concern once they've got their money. It is the responsibility of each and everyone of us to act in a manner that doesn't harm other people; however, it is the venue's obligation to provide a safe environment to each and every patron. It's not an easy job to control large crowds and oftentimes people are so out of control, physical force is necessary...but the physical force should be reserved for those who are out of control, not innocent patrons, and partiuclary not to the detriment of innocent concert goers. If someone is out of control, toss that person out but don't penalize and contribute to the infliction of injuries to others who are there simply to enjoy the performances. The venue and the performers take in thousands of dollars from these events; perhaps they can spend a few more dollars of their profit and come up with solutions to stop this sort of thing from occuring in the future. What I find most disturbing is that the injuries reported during this Aerosmith tour at other venues didn't give this particular venue a clue that more protection was necessary for their patrons. (Or if it did register with the personnel coordinating the event, someone clearly dropped the ball on this one.) I paid good money and traveled over 100 miles to see this concert...what I got for my money was the opportunity to hear Aerosmith play three songs, an injury, a hospital bill, a strong lack of respect for promoters of these events and bewilderment how previously known problems didn't trigger more responsible action on the part of the coordinators of the Aerosmith/Kid Rock/Run DMC evening at the Tweeter Center in Camden, New Jersey. (Interestingly, while writing this I have learned that EMT assignments for the Tweeter Center are decided by a rating of the band/crowd expected, other factors learned about the band's tour, etc. This particular event was "bumped up" for EMT presence...one would think that trained security would have been beefed up also and the patrons' safety would have been a top of the list issue...obviously it was not.

Susan C. Ueberroth





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