Enter Shikari’s Notes From The Road: Staying Safe In Atlanta
Every now and then we play a show where the venue’s security are simply not equipped to deal with crowd surfers. It’s horrifying being onstage and spinning round to witness, in the peripheries of my blurred vision, an audience member spilling over the barrier head first, straight to the cold hard floor. Tonight’s show never really fully erupts into its normal ecstatic energy because of this. It’s full of pauses and altercations with security. Our photographer Tom even gets involved at one point to try and stop a kid getting chucked out for crowd surfing. Unfortunately he uses that very phrase “chucked out”, which is not a phrase they use or understand here… the security think Tom’s accusing them of “choking out” an attendee and become overly defensive and aggravated.
I’m sighing pretty heavily by this point. We’ve been here so many times. And obviously the middle of a gig is never the best place to have serious discussions on crowd safety. Tempers always fly and heated arguments in the spur of the moment rarely work to rectify a situation.
It brings back some of my worst memories of bad security experiences. Perhaps the worst of all was at a festival in Ukraine a good few years back, where kids were wrestled from the crowd and put in headlocks and dragged out, immediately stopping the show I blurt out expletives and orders for calm but they fall upon deaf ears as no one in the security pit speaks English. Or maybe worst still was in Arizona on one of our first U.S. tours, where I leap offstage like a crazed wrestler off the corner ropes to land on the the back of a security guard about four times my size, as he drags a girl out by the hair who had the audacity to crowd surf twice.
I should definitely mention here that 99% of the security personnel we come across are good people, bloody great at their job and care about keeping people safe. Just as I’m not a blanket-generalisation ‘fuck the police guy; it’s the few ignorant, untrained or simply careless meatheads that ruin it for everyone.
The good news is these experiences are happening less and less. And today, thankfully, no one is seriously injured and those who have been “chucked out” are let back in (including a couple who had travelled 750km to be there!).
But with jet-lagged sleep deprivation still weighing heavily upon us all, Rob Rolfe decides to take the quickest and safest form of action and tells the crowd to no longer crowd surf for the rest of the set. We trudge offstage, and if our glum and quiet demeanour and Rob’s face of thunder is anything to go by, this will be the lowest point of the tour.
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