Thursday, May 10, 2007

Off Topic: Is It Okay for Security to Beat Up an Arcade Fire Fan?

[Photo courtesy Timmygunz/flickr]

David Bowie's Highline Festival kicked off last night with a great performance by Arcade Fire at Radio City Music Hall...and the manhandling of at least one fan by Radio City security. Dozens of spectators were caught in the middle, and many were hit and shoved in the process.

In the scheme of things, it's a little thing. Even if you don't mind security roughing someone up, however, a lot of people were impacted and it could easily have spiraled out of control if someone had taken issue with being collateral damage.

It all started late in the show when Arcade Fire's Win Butler urged the audience to come up to the stage. "Jesus Fucking Christ," he said. "Come up here. What can they do to you?"

What they could do, it turned out, was rush you, jump you, beat you and drag you from Radio City in a headlock. We apologize upfront for not having photos or video. (The photo below is of security staff several minutes after the fisticuffs. We know the woman on the right was not involved. The woman barely visible in the background is a supervisor who arrived on the scene. We don't know the role for certain of the gentleman on the left.) There were people who shot video and photos of the altercation. Perhaps someone will YouTube it. The action kicked off between Rows AA and GG in the aisle between the 300 and 400 section of the orchestra when someone took Mr. Butler at his word and pushed past ushers. This is not a wise thing to do at Radio City. At that point, about a half-dozen employees descended on him, trying to stop him. They pushed him into the seats and we saw at least one (and possibly more) of the Radio City security employees punching the concert goer. The concert goer may have struggled with them--either to get to the stage or to escape the beating--but that's beside the point.

Now, we've seen plenty of concert violence in our day. We think it's dumb to challenge concert security and we fully realize that this incident is a tiny thing in New York City, but seeing someone who's done nothing wrong other than try to get near the stage getting jumped and punched rather fucks with our concert experience. We wouldn't say it was a savage beating, but security was punching the gentleman. Call us naive, but we didn't count on violence being included in the cost of our Arcade Fire ticket at Radio City Music Hall and on seeing the nice people in the maroon tuxedos rocking out on someone. The security brawl probably went on for about a minute and a half and covered a lot of territory as the gang tackle moved around.

As we took a couple of crappy pictures of some security with our cell phone after the altercation, one of them snarled at us to stop. Three of them approach GL. One called a supervisor and a lot of pointing of fingers at us ensued. For a moment we wondered if we'd get tossed out, but the security staff must have been instructed not to hurt us or take our cell phone, as they only glared. One guy stationed himself next to us for the rest of the set.

When Mr. Butler came back on stage for the encore he referred to encouraging fans to come up to the stage and said, "I apologize to Radio City security. I was a bad boy."

After the show, we approached a supervisor and asked why excessive force had been used. She told us to mind our own business and denied that anything improper had happened. We asked for the security supervisor's name and another guard said, "We don't know his name." We told a supervisor who had managed the removal of the victim that we do a blog and that we wanted to talk to someone. "Don't harass me," she said. "Go do your little blog." Then, she called another supervisor over and told him GL was "harassing" her. We asked him why the fan had been beaten up. "Nobody got beaten up," he said.

"Well, why was excessive force used?" we said.

"We do what we got to do," he said. "He was trying to get by the stage."

We talked with about a half-dozen people afterward. All were angry that they'd gotten caught in the crossfire and that Radio City staff had used rather violent methods. Someone even stopped us in the lobby and said he was glad we tried to talk to security after the show as he and his wife were upset by the nasty little scene.

Our own thought is that the situation was uncalled for. At best, excessive force was used. From our perspective, the concert goer was actually assaulted by at least one Radio City employee. A lot of people got glancing blows and were pushed and scared. Radio City should be ashamed of itself and of the behavior its employees. A lot of people could have been hurt by their overreaction and violent, aggressive behavior.

Arcade Fire, by the way, was wonderful.

We now return to our regular Brooklyn programming.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about this. I cannot understand how they got caught off guard so badly. My boyfriend and I are not diehard superfans, but it was easy to know that Win had been inviting fans up front after the first song by doing some basic research. It's standard security practice in the concert industry to read fan blogs, web sites, message boards, etc. to find out what's going on on a tour, so it's irresponsible for Radio City to not know what was probably going to happen.

Running down the aisles en masse with large flashlights and shining those flashlights into people's faces doesn't do anything.

Of course, nothing will ever happen about this, because concertgoers are regarded as kids and security is omnipotent. This is how security managed to beat up that grateful dead fan at the meadowlands years ago.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have a blog"
Yeah, that works as a deterrent to dumb-ass security guards.
Gawker is calling. In fact, I've already submitted it.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, concertgoers can get out of hand anywhere these days ... might be the residual blotter acid in the bodies of these trustafarians ...

1:35 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home