- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
On Saturday, June 2, my family and friends attended the Eric Church Concert at the St. Leonard Volunteer Fire Department. We purchased premium seats and had 9 tickets for Section A rows 3 and 4. Our seats were located beginning on the aisle closest to the center section. From these seats we should have had a clear view of the stage even if those seated in other rows were standing. Unfortunately, this was far from the case. The opening act went on with no concerns or problems. After the second song by Eric Church, the aisle filled with people and the seats that were left empty were occupied by people who did not have tickets for those seats. I can understand that the ushers can’t stop everyone who sneaks by, however, the number of people that were allowed to stand in the aisles was absolutely ridiculous and, I can’t imagine, safe should there have been an emergency.
My family attending this concert included my 8-year-old son who had been very excited to attend this concert. Since my husband and I, as well as other members of my immediate family, had attended a great number of concerts over the years at SLVFD, I didn’t have much of a concern allowing him to go. Had I know that neither SLVFD nor the Calvert County Sherriff’s Office would control the crowd, I would have chosen otherwise.
It was also a very disturbing sight to see a veteran, whom the concert is suppose to be honoring, seated in his wheelchair with his family in a section in front of the seating area not able to see the stage and being overwhelmed with people. What kind of image does this show for all those in attendance? Yet the officers and their significant others and family get to view the concert from inside the safety of the fenced area by the stage.
I stand at 5-foot-10-inches, and at this height I could not see anything but the number of heads in the aisles, standing on chairs, jumping up and down, and the deputies removing a few individuals who they felt had finally become out of control, leaving the other 100 or more people standing as they wished. Less than halfway through the concert, my husband as well as a number of other men switched places with the women on the aisle seats, not because they wanted to, but because quite frankly it became unsafe with all the pushing and shoving. My son didn’t get to watch the whole concert as he himself became overwhelmed and distracted by all the intoxicated individuals pushing and shoving, and he actually asked to leave.
On SLVFD’s Facebook page, there are a number of comments complaining of various crowd control issues at the Eric Church concert and also a few comments asking if things had been kept under control better than previous years. As of today (June 5), there has been no response from SLVFD as far as addressing these issues. The few comments they have made have only been in reply to positive posts about the concert. Having attended so many concerts at SLVFD’s venue, I will say that other than one other time, which was at the Miranda Lambert/Jason Aldean concert a number of years ago, the crowds have been somewhat kept under control. In reference to the previous out-of-control concert, an email was written directly to SLVFD by another individual and a response received from the company president stating that such an issue would always be prevented in the future. Unfortunately, here we are at a time when this isn’t the case.
Calvert Marine Museum handles crowd control completely different. The aisles are always clear and the possibility of a lower-priced admission ticket sitting in a higher-priced reserved seat is rather slim due to the way the tickets are checked and the seating is verified. I feel that those who pay for the seats deserve a better view and shouldn’t have to worry about how they are going to get out should they need to use the restroom or leave. Thankfully, a gentleman, who saw me struggling to get back to my seat through the crowd after escorting my son out, cleared a way. Maybe he felt sympathy for me after hearing me being told by a deputy watching the chaos, “You’re just going to have to say a lot of excuse me’s and I’m sorry’s to get back to your seat.” Well, I’m sorry St. Leonard Volunteer Fire Department and Calvert County Sherriff’s Office, but this was a horrible experience and I know that a lot more could have been done and should have been done in regards to the crowd control, and that’s without even touching upon the underage drinking.
Erin Travers, North Beach