In what could’ve been a pretty laid back night for all concert-goers this past Sunday at Iroquois Amphitheater, actually turned ugly for a few unlucky fans at the hands of an overtly domineering security staff. More on that later. Onto the music first.
Louisville’s Elephant Room and VilleBillies received the opening nods for Sublime with Rome in one of the biggest summer concerts the city has hosted this year. Iroquois Amphitheater was packed to near capacity and swarming with teenagers to the 40 something year-old crowd. This seemed to be a pretty typical demographic for these artists collectively. Not to mention plenty of Sublime-heads, if you will, with their Sublime T-shirts, and their other random attributes they adorned proudly. Overall, the atmosphere was chilled and relaxed.
Elephant Room - Photo by Jason Ashcraft
Elephant Room, who lead off, gave one stellar stage show in terms of personal performance by each member of the group. Lead vocalists Chase Myers & Josh Bennett marched from one side of the stage to the next and wasn’t shy to keep the crowd involved either. Although no one song they played really stood out, they definitely carried their weight in performance and showmanship. Now all they have to do is craft a few memorable songs and they should be on their way. Keep an eye out on these guys.
VilleBillies - Photo by Staci Core
The VilleBillies. So what can be said about them that’s not already been published before? Nothing. They’re solid. Period. It’s like going and seeing a My Morning Jacket concert. It’s always going to be awesome, and somewhat unlike the one before it. Both their songs and performance are perfect for their style of music.
Justin Reed & Demi Demaree of VilleBillies - Photo by Staci Core
It’s literally a living act of stupidity on behalf of the national recording industry that the VilleBillies don’t have a MMJ-like record deal by now. Actually, I do have one complaint on their stage show. Where the f**k was Big Bird?
So now we have Sublime with Rome coming up and the crowd inside the amphitheater was brewing with anticipation moments before they took the stage.
Sublime with Rome - Photo by Staci Core
Chants of “Sublime, Sublime, Sublime” were screamed in unison by the crowd. About ten seconds later the Long Beach trio appeared from backstage rushing to their instruments. They quickly opened with canny version of “Panic,” the first single off their new album Yours Truly.
They quickly turned to playing old-school Sublime songs like ”Crazy Fool,” “Wrong Way” “Smoke Two Joints” and “Santeria,” amongst others. If your eyes were closed, at times, you could have easily believed that it was Nowell up there playing those authentic Sublime jams, but obviously it’s not. Rome held his own to say the least.
Even newer songs written with Ramirez did not necessarily reinvent Sublime’s signature reggae/ska style of sound that fans have come to both appreciate and anticipate.
Rome Ramirez - Photo by Staci Core
Replacing a lead singer and keeping the band’s name in tact is a hard thing to pull off. Think about it. Gary Cherone for Sammy Hagar for David Lee Roth in Van Halen. John Corabi for Vince Neil in Motley Crue. Brian Johnson for Bon Scott in AC/DC. Both success and failures have came from change-outs like this over the years.
But, Rome Ramirez, although uniquely different from Nowell, was impressive all around. If the measure by which a singer’s replacement is an ability to carry on the signature sound of the replaced singer, Ramirez is hitting the nail on the head with a sledge hammer.
Stop reading here if your only interest was the actual concert review. That part is over.
Let’s get back to the “overtly domineering security staff” statement I made earlier. Let me first point out that I am the second person in the local media to mention something about the security and incident which took place onstage with a fan. Thank you Mudd from 93.1 The Fox for opening the door on this subject on your radio show Monday morning.
Now, I will proceed with kicking it in and blowing the whistle on event security.
At mid-set during Sublime’s performance this skinny young guy attempts to dance his way onto the stage. It’s obvious that not just anyone can be permitted to go onstage while a band is performing. I get that. But this 200+ pound security guard elects to get this kid in some type of headlock or choke-hold, and then viciously dragged him offstage like he was in some kind of wrestling match with a wild animal. The kid was dancing. Not fighting. Dancing.
This guy didn’t appear to be charging the band with any type of intent or endangering anyones safety in the course of his actions. He was dancing, having his moment. Yes, in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it’s not an excuse to take him out in the violent manner which the security guard elected to.
Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to be an isolated incident, rather just the tip of an iceberg. There were actually security guards who were overly obsessive about trying to bust pot smoking teenagers (because they are just jeopardizing everyone’s safety). And then there were a couple security guys at the gate who felt it was necessary confiscate a photographer's camera (who had media credentials) and then copping attitude about the incident instead of apologizing for their mistake.
What is it with concert security guards these days where they feel they are entitled to be raging assholes to everyone they encounter?
To those security guards: Please remember what your real job is to do. To ensure the safety of everyone attending the concert. That’s it. Ensure their “safety.”
Ensuring safety DOES NOT include beating up dancing hippie kids half your weight who are living in the moment and having a good time. It’s NOT preventing the media from doing our job by confiscating our cameras when we have proper media credentials. It’s NOT chasing around high-school pot smokers like they are some kind of terrorist. Nobody’s safety was at stake in these situations. If you want to continue to act like a COP, then quit your security job and go apply with LMPD.
Never forget why all of us have our jobs in the music business to begin with: Because of the fans. Yep, those 150-pound evil teenage pot-smoking dancing kids with funny clothes and long hair are the enablers of your job. If fans didn’t purchase concert tickets, then the promoters wouldn't have a reason to organize the concerts, and bands wouldn't have a concert to get hired to play at, and us members of the media wouldn't have a show to write or broadcast about. And, yes, you mister security guard would also be less employed if it weren’t for these fans too. So quit beating up those who enable you to earn an income, okay? It's not cool and nobody else does that. Capish?
** Jason Ashcraft is a freelance music writer who focuses on Kentucky's original music scene. Visit his blog at LouisvilleScuttlebutt.com or you scan this QR code on your smart phone to view the mobile site:
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