I recently attended the String Cheese Incident concert at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium at the Asheville Civic Center and was very disappointed by the way the crowd was being (mis)handled.
Circumstances forced me to arrive about 10 minutes before show time, so I expected to breeze right in, most of the crowd already inside. Or so I thought. Instead, I was mashed into a line of thousands, barely moving, still trying to get inside. Thirty minutes later I found out why. Like a ride at Six Flags, these thousands of bodies, converging in an alley beside the Civic Center, were being crammed like cattle through a gate barely wide enough for two. This eventually widened into four lines where security guards were patting down all the "suspects" as if being shaken down for lock up. I stood, frustrated, as the young man in front of me had both legs, belt-line, sides and armpits, all pockets, hat and backpack caressed and inspected. They even made him take the wrappers off three cigars he had in his possession. After watching for at least a minute and a half, it was my turn. I'm 53, and I guess I didn't look stoned enough, because my pat-down took all of about seven seconds, after which my "checker" smirked, "Having fun yet?" to which I replied, "not really."
Although this is all the very definition of profiling (no such invasions were going on next door at the Disney on Ice show!), I'm not naive enough to think this will change for rock shows any time soon. However, I figure the Civic Center owes me about $7 for the first part of the show I missed while I was being herded outside. I don't care what they change their name to, they can even keep the $7, if it will improve the crowd-handling for future events!
— Mark Chester