I try to avoid mundane personal rants here (though I don’t know why; this is the internet, after all), but I’m going to do it today. Feel free to skip this one. It’s mostly incoherent.
Lately, in my role helping out with local concert promoters Love The Captive, it’s rare that I get to simply watch a cool show. Because we’re in charge of most of the cool shows I attend, which means there are always odds and ends that need doing—ticket-taking, facility issues, or just the tension of knowing you might be called away at any moment (and I’m not even the one with the real responsibilities). This usually results in being distracted while the bands are playing, or missing out on it altogether. It can be a bit of a bummer, but it’s nice knowing I’m helping in some small way to showcase great talent in an underserved market.
That being said, the idea of a night off was appealing. And tonight, I was all set to go enjoy a relaxing night of great music without the responsibilities.
The awesome local band Fierce Creatures was having an EP release show. This wasn’t a Love The Captive show. We had helped them secure the venue (Frank’s Place, where we’ve been having most of our recent and upcoming shows) by acting as a liaison, but were otherwise uninvolved. The band was handling their own ticketing, sound, the works. It should have been a laid-back night.
Cue the two drunk girls.
The opening band hasn’t even started yet, but these two stumble through the crowd, arm-in-arm, bumping into chairs and people. They’re obviously under the influence of something, even though no alcohol is being served at this show. They arrived this way.
Even better, it appears they’re underage.
This is a problem. I don’t know the exact legal issues at play here—whether the venue can be held accountable for the presence of idiots—but I do know what’s at stake from a public relations standpoint.
Love The Captive is trying to establish something good. By partnering with this new venue, we’re aiming to be in a position to bring to town the mid-size touring acts that usually bypass Fresno. By essentially handing over control of the venue on these nights, the non-profit organization that’s in charge of Frank’s Place is taking a big risk. We’re doing our best to ensure their trust isn’t misplaced.
The headlines flash through my mind.
Underage drinking at Love The Captive show
Police respond to drunken brawl at new venue
Stupid girl falls and cracks her head open at local concert
Forgive my lack of faith in the reliability of gossip, but I doubt any of these scenarios would highlight the fact that LTC wasn’t really in charge here, or that no alcohol was served to anyone, or even that 99% percent of the attendees were perfectly behaved.
No, it would simply be, “See? Those damn kids and their rock music. Who’s letting them have these orgies of blood at this place downtown?”
We’ve only held three shows at this place so far. It’s not hard to imagine some bad press persuading the venue’s board of directors to terminate the relationship with Love The Captive.
So we’ve got to do something about these two idiots.
The girls stagger into the ladies’ room. When others enter and exit, we can see the drunk girls sitting on the restroom floor.
I convene with Turtle, an LTC colleague, about what to do. Like it or not, we’re the ones responsible. The bands hadn’t planned on having security (which they shouldn’t need to), and any problems will reflect directly on LTC anyway, which means we need to take care of it.
We decide to give them one warning: quit being idiots or you’re out of here. We have to send a girl into the restroom to tell the drunk ones to come out. Turtle talks to them. It turns out only one of them, apparently, is under 21. The underage one is the girlfriend of a guy we know (she seems to think this will impress us). It also turns out they weren’t bumping into anyone. All the witnesses and people they knocked into were mistaken. I’m not sure they aren’t high on something. Turtle explains that they are a liability and can get us in trouble if we let them stay, acting stupid. We can’t have this going on. He gives them the ultimatum. Shape up or ship out. They say they understand.
Within 10 minutes, we see them again. Laughing, bumping into each other, then they go in the men’s restroom. Turtle and I look at each other; that’s it, they’re done.
I follow them in. I tell the 21-year-old they need to leave. She asks why. I say they’re wasted and in the men’s room. They’re just going the bathroom, she says. What’s the problem? A guy washing his hands helpfully tells her, she’s in the men’s room.
I bring them out. We tell them they must leave. They say they have to go to the bathroom. We graciously allow them to go (the ladies’ room this time) before leaving the building. They go in and don’t come out.
We send in another of our female friends to bring them out again. We tell them they had their chance and now need to leave. They’re incredulous. What did they do wrong? I explain that they went into the men’s room. I’m mistaken, the older one says. They were just in the ladies’ room. I explain that they were in the men’s room before they went in the ladies’ room. Why would they do that? she says. No they weren’t. I explain that I was there when they were, other people saw this take place. They didn’t go in the men’s room, she says.
They can barely stand up without leaning on each other.
I’m done arguing. You need to leave now, I say. They tell us, “Fuck you,” flip us off, and leave. This is a victory, although they remain just outside the entrance. It’s not over.
The opening bands have started playing by now, but I’m hanging around by the entrance, far from the stage. Ten, twenty minutes pass. Turtle goes backstage to deal with other issues. In walk the drunk girls.
I intercept them just inside the door and remind them they’ve been kicked out. They want to know why. I give a brief rundown of why, but explanations don’t seem worth much to them, despite their insistence on them. Next, she tells me that Turtle told them they could come back in. It’s hard to tell where the lies end and the delusions begin. No, he didn’t, I say. And they need to leave now.
I may have mentioned calling the cops. I really wanted to call the cops. The thought of these two 90-pound tarts spending the night in the drunk tank was beginning to seem just about perfect. But, like I said, that probably wouldn’t be good for appearances.
Throughout the whole thing, the poor 19-year-old is looking very confused. When we tell them to leave, she says OK and starts to lead her friend out, but when the 21-year-old stays put and talks back, the 19-year-old changes her posture and joins in with the “Fuck yous.” This happens over and over.
When it’s clear I’m not going to let them in, they curse at me again, flip me off again (one of them may have flipped me off with her index finger, I’m not sure), and walk out. They’re just as wasted as when they first walked in an hour ago.
Soon, they try to come in again. The 19-year-old tries to make the argument that her boyfriend is “in charge of all this,” referring, presumably, to Love The Captive (which he’s not). At some point, Alise, the young woman taking money at the door (herself a tiny girl around the same age as the idiots), talks to them, expertly guiding them outside before explaining, again, that they’ve been kicked out. The drunk girls continue to have difficulty understanding this, as well as difficulty standing up of their own accord (when anyone tries to keep them from falling over, they yell, “Don’t push me!”).
While they’re outside, reports trickle in though the door from others. People who step out for a smoke mention the drunk girls insulting them, peeing in the street, pushing people.
When Fierce Creatures finally take the stage, I agree to watch the door so the friends-of-the-band who had been handling it can go watch the show. From where I am, I can’t see the stage. This is not the relaxing fun show I had anticipated.
The drunk girls rush in again before I can stop them. Because I’m alone at the door with the cash box, I can’t go after them. I flag down my pal Joey, but the drunks are already lost in the crowd. Rather than hunt for them and make a scene escorting them out, we decide to let them stay. The show will be over soon, and hopefully we’d scared them enough to keep them from misbehaving.
After a song or two, I see the two idiots being escorted toward the exit by a couple Citizens On Patrol (i.e., regular concertgoers). When I ask what happened, the citizens say the drunks were “doing drugs.” I don’t know if this is true, but I do know (I learned later) they had climbed on stage and momentarily stopped the show.
I think they tried to come in again after that (it’s all blurring together by this point). This time Joey intercepts them. The older one complains that she’s 21, so there shouldn’t be a problem with being drunk and disorderly. And the 19-year-old helpfully explains that it would be legal for her to be drunk if she was in “Candada [sic].” Next, the 21-year-old eloquently explains how this shit would never happen in LA where she would be treated as the belle of the ball, and might I add, “Fuck you Fresno.” (Somehow they’re still as wasted as they were 3 hours before.) They leave for the last time, finally, to hopefully go choke on their own vomit somewhere.
At 12:30, I’m taken off door duty in time to catch the last couple songs of the night, which are fantastic. It would have been nice to catch the whole set, but I’ll take what I can get. And, despite having my night ruined, disaster was averted, so I guess there’s something to be said for that.
Anyway, the moral of this story is, Don’t be a piece of shit like these two.
Update 7/13/10: In the interest of full disclosure, I want to note that I’ve since received apologies from both girls (one directly and one indirectly). I hope they’ve learned from this.