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December 03, 2016
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If you Google “drunken concert fans,” you’ll find that the problem of obnoxious drunks is not uncommon at large concert venues. From the U.S. to the U.K. to Australia and beyond, you’ll find YouTube videos posted of drunken fan behavior along with written postings by sober (or less inebriated?) concert goers, telling how their evening was ruined by the alcohol-fueled misconduct of someone seated or standing nearby.

Even Rolling Stone magazine weighed in on this issue earlier this year, listing “getting so drunk you puke,” among its “10 Most Annoying Concert Behaviors” (www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-10-most-annoying-concert-behaviors-2...).

Without singling out any one local concert arena in particular, rest assured that these incidents also happen here in the Catskills and the Poconos, and well-mannered concert goers have started to notice and object.

Performers are noticing, too. Celine Dion complained on her website this June about a wrecked and rowdy fan who heckled her throughout a performance. In 2011, Tim McGraw famously stopped a concert near Seattle, WA after he saw a woman toss her drink on some fans who were trying to push past her to the stage. McGraw proceeded to hoist the visibly intoxicated woman onto the stage, greeting her with these words: “You’ve got to go; you’ve got no choice in the matter,” whereupon she was escorted from the concert (b105.com/2011/06/20/tim-mcgraw-kicks-out-drunk-fans-at-concert/).

McGraw apparently runs a tight ship, but other performers, not so much. Some concert headliners appear to endorse the consumption of alcohol not only through the alcohol-infused lyrics they sing, but also personally (drinking on stage, or inviting their fans to go and buy another drink, or underwriting the cost of beer sold at their concerts). And of course, there are also those fans who arrive plastered.

Let’s be blunt for a moment: what concert attendee should have to put up with someone seated in the row in front of you throwing up into a bag for a concert’s duration? (Sadly, this is a true story from one local concert venue this summer.) Or consider the case of some gal who’s really hammered responding obscenely—both verbally and with a well-known gesture—to a suggestion that she sit down. And we haven’t even gotten to what will happen when the guy who’s totally loaded gets behind the wheel of his car to drive home.

Both fans and performers have a personal responsibility to behave appropriately at concert events where alcohol is consumed and to follow some basic rules of conduct. Here in Sullivan County, management at our very fine local concert venue at Bethel Woods clearly wants to take responsibility, too. Its alcohol policy and code of conduct are posted on its website. In part, it says: “Guests shall not act in an unruly or disruptive manner and shall not interfere with other guests’ enjoyment of the event... Guests are not permitted to bring in alcoholic beverages from outside and may not leave with alcohol purchased inside the venue… Guests who drink alcoholic beverages shall do so in a responsible manner... Event patrons and guests who violate the code of conduct will be subject to ejection without refund.” These rules make good sense, and whenever necessary they need to be enforced as vigorously as they were last Friday at Bethel Woods’ last big concert bash of the season. Uniformed state troopers, mounted police and drug-sniffing dogs were widely in evidence. Alcohol was confiscated at the entrance gate, and when people tried to leave with beer in their hands at the end of the concert. Visibly intoxicated people were removed during the show.

We salute the management at Bethel Woods for taking such aggressive action to prevent what some concert goers have seen as a growing problem of late. For concert goers, the bottom line is simple: if you cannot police yourselves and your own use of alcohol, then stronger security and enforcement measures must be taken for the safety of all who attend and to guarantee that they can enjoy the event.

Finally, we suggest that in the future fans speak up to let venue management know how they feel when alcohol-fueled behavior crosses the line. If everyone simply accepts what has been accepted as the status quo concerning alcohol at concerts, nothing will change.