Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Protecting Performers AND the Audience

Unruly spectators can pose a risk to themselves, those around them, crew, and performers.  In rowdy rock concerts with drugs and/or alcohol added to the mix, it can be even more unpredictable.  On May 24, 2010, the lead singer for the heavy metal band Lamb of God, was performing in Abaton, a nightclub in Prague, Czech Republic.

In the course of the show, fans were allegedly enticed to come onstage and dive into the audience for a little body surfing.  Things got out of control and one patron went off of the stage backwards and was not caught by the crowd.  He supposedly struck his head on the floor, but was able to get-up and walk out of the club.  He later collapsed, was taken to the hospital, and remained in a comma for several weeks before dying.

The band's promoter said that they had not heard anything about the pending arrest and had booked dates without any knowledge that the performer might be held accountable for the incident.  The lead singer, Blythe, was arrested June 27th, 2012 as he entered the country to promote the bands newest album.  Blythe has been held by the Czech Republic police awaiting a bail bond hearing since entering the country.  He has been charged with manslaughter.  Several web sites have followed the incident and some have posted cell-phone videos from that night's concert.  Depending who you believe, it may have been an accident, or there may have been other people involved or responsible for the circumstances.

It is important that performers can work safely on stage and not worry about being assaulted by guests, and it is incumbent upon venue managers to see that proper controls are placed between artists and fans.
However, it is not just artists and fans that require protection, either -- on October 30th, 2004 there was an incident in a Dallas, Texas nightclub where the lead guitarist Vince Neil (formerly with the rock band MÖTLEY CRÜE was unhappy with the stage monitor mix operator.
After motioning for for more guitar volume during his headlining set at Gilley's Dallas, Neil ran across the stage, leaped onto the monitor mix sound board and swung a leg at sound man Michael Talbert, but missed; then Neil struck him with a "closed fist."

Talbert, who was looking down, saw only the monitor mixing console and Neil's foot next to him before losing consciousness for about 45 seconds after Neil's punch knocked him to the ground.  He said a CT scan revealed that he had suffered a mild concussion. "He tried to kick me and missed, took a swing and connected.  He clocked me pretty good on my eyeball," said Talbert, who works at Gilley's. "He just went cuckoo nutso."  An arrest warrant was later issued for Neil

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