Safety inspection fails the grade

The management of The Orange Peel has stooped to new lows. When [I] attended a Feb. 29 concert, the proprietors chose to violate my privacy—along with [that of] every other attendee. This was done under the guise of keeping us safe. When entering the hall after presenting my $23 ticket, I was told by a rude employee to empty all of my pockets onto the table while he searched my entire body, held my grocery list up to the light and sorted through my personal items on a table in view of the whole lobby. I watched all of the ladies around me experience the same, except that their purses were rifled through as well. The performance hall was diminished by [the presence of] a steel gate, keeping the audience separated from the stage, and by a new traffic pattern, creating havoc around the bathrooms.

If [The Peel] truly wishes to keep us safe, [they should] use metal detectors and keep [their] hands off my body and out of my pockets. Anyone wishing to feel violated and have a cheapened concert experience should buy tickets to the Peel. What an unnecessary and terrible shame.

— D. Clere
Asheville

Justin Ferraby, Business & Operations Manager for The Orange Peel, responds: We apologize for [the writer’s] unpleasant experience. We are trying to fulfill our responsibilities to our guests, the authorities and the bands. … More typically, we get compliments on how polite and considerate our staff is while doing a difficult, and—let’s face it—thankless job. Unfortunately, we are held responsible by our other guests, the band contracts, the Asheville Police [Department] and NC ALE for the criminal, illegal or just plain stupid activities of a tiny minority of our guests. You could be injured, and we can be fined, sued, lose our license, lose our insurance or be closed because some guests bring in weapons, liquor or drugs and then act inappropriately. When that tiny minority starts wearing signs, we can stop searching the rest of you. It’s really no fun on our end, either.

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22 thoughts on “Safety inspection fails the grade

  1. Rob Close

    What other venues in town perform such searches? (perhaps the civic center, no place else that i can recollect…)

    The law holds them all to the same scrutiny, so why do so few places take it to the extremes that the OP has?

    But seriously, what are they looking for?

    Weapons? Metal Detector’s were a good suggestion, they’re far less intrusive.

    Alcohol? That’s why they check ID’s and people have to have X’s on their hands. The venue gets blamed for serving people, sure, but they already have that covered.

    Drugs? Catch them in the act, don’t use that as a blanket excuse to assume everyone is on them. And the individual takes the blame – does the club actually have to pay a fine? That’d be news.

  2. Trey

    The Orange Peel is the sorriest excuse for a music venue ever.

    It feels like you are in a middle school gymnasium. And sounds that way also.

    Beer and wine, no alcohol. Weak.

    Let’s all stop going there and maybe they will close.

    Someone please open up a “good” music venue.

  3. tingum

    Thank you D. clere for pointing this out. This was not done the last time I attended the Peel. I will not attend again until this Fachist practice is discontinued!

  4. seargant grooveface

    you people are quite ridiculous. my monkey has a smaller brain than all of you yet understands that we all have to be safe. i’m so glad they check cause i HATE it when people spark up a joint next to me during Edwin McCAin. DEAL WITH IT!!

  5. September Girl

    It is dangerous to give young people the responsibility of law enforcement with minimal training and even less guess as to their individual motivations and agendas. That said, fear is clearly the issue here, fear is perpetuated at all levels of society and we are experiencing the consequences on a daily basis.
    I’ve never seen an ugly incident at a live music event, except for a few overdoses (quickly resolved by paramedics) and a couple of fistfights (you can’t leave those in your car). I think the response by The Orange Peel to this letter was tangential, in that the point of the complainer was only slightly addressed and the use of fear to bolster their inconsistent policies was disingenuous at best.

  6. I don’t like being searched and so have never set foot in the Orange Peel. I have flown exactly twice since 9/11/01, and that was to my uncle’s funeral and back. Saves money too. Vote with your wallet. Music is a luxury that can easily be sacrificed for civil rights from searches.

  7. Zzzzzzzzzzzz

    just to respond to the comment above…”to give young people the responsibility of law enforcement with minimal training” etc. i mean really..do you want asheville pd to be at the orange peel checking everyone? what would the result be…tons of people arrested i’m sure and an even more unpleasant environment..

    i don’t see an issue of fear…its pretty black and white. if people are caught with drugs, liquor, underage drinking etc. the club gets fined..there is an issue of safety other than just fistfights and a few overdoses, these are issues you have obviously not seen or heard about.

    nobody wants to be checked or patted down it does feel violating at times, i believe strongly that the orange peel will ease up on it once the small amount of people that are trying to bring in drugs, weapons, liquor stop trying to be sneaky and follow the rules.

    the only fear i really see here is fear of being caught or fear of not being able to get high at a show cause somebody’s trying to abide by basic laws and keep EVERYONE safe. seriously people.

  8. September Girl

    “God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
    it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. …And what country can preserve its liberties, if it’s rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
    -Thomas Jefferson
    ME: Our obsession with “safety” and the regulation of our everyday personal lives has eroded our inalienable rights and we no longer recognize true liberty or the lack thereof. We are alienated from one another by this process and we live “safe,” disconnected lives.

  9. I also try to avoid paying money to go places that seperate me from my gun, leaving me defenseless and therefore in danger as at Virginia Tech. I won’t put down my gun for the sake of something as trivial as music.

  10. Johnny

    Wait a minute, if you’re found with marijuana in your pocket inside the club then the club is fined?

    I find that hard to believe.

    Is there some house size that triggers a new set of laws surrounding possession of drugs and the establishment’s liability?

  11. The Orange Peel is a Terrible Venue. The author is illustrating just one of the many reasons. I hope all musicians of any integrity who come here begin to hear this. It is the only venue of it’s size, but why would you ever want to go to a show that big anyway? In a giant warehouse with terrible acoustics?
    Ill check out a non-smoking show at the Grey Eagle anytime, thanks.

  12. travelah

    As long people continue to patronize that sorry shed of a venue, they will continue to take your money and treat you like dung. However, there is that and then there is the Asheville Police Departments training club at the Civic Center. Take your pick … midsize venues in Asheville are the sorriest I have seen in a long time with the Grey Eagle excluded (even though it is pretty small)

  13. kevin

    It seems quite certain that nobody likes getting searched. It’s actually quite an unpleasant surprise to have to empty your pockets in front of a stranger. I think there’s plenty of outrage expressed in this thread which will be a common sentiment amongst concert-goers from here and on down the road. The unpleasant experience of being searched would make me not want to return to the venue, even though I really do like the Orange Peel. Metal detectors would be a good option. Otherwise, I’ll probably only go to a show when it’s something I can’t resist rather than being a frequent visitor. That’s really not good for business. Maybe the management at the Orange Peel should try out their system on themselves and see how it feels and then find a more pleasant experience for their guests. Have a fine day everyone and remember to be happy…. there’s bigger battles to fight out there.
    Kevin

  14. Playing the devil’s advocate here…

    I believe there was a stabbing there a year or two ago during the Ghostface Killa show.

    I’m sure that there were cries in the community that enough WASN’T done. Now what do they do? Only search for weapons at rap shows? That would discrimination wouldn’t it? Only search for drugs at jamband shows? That too would be discrimination. Being a club owner is a thankless job, you are hated from all sides and the profits sometimes are slim to none.

    For the record, I like the Orange Peel. The sound ain’t great if you’re in front of the stage, but there are few venues out there that sound good in front of the stage. Some people hate em cause they don’t have chairs, but nothing ruins a show for me than the audience sitting down. Sure, my feet hurt afterwards and I’m not able to buy as much beer as I want, but they have booked a staggering amount of artists that would have never played here otherwise. Sonic Youth three times? I’ll always see a show there…

    p.s. There will only be about 50 people to search, but the Dirtbombs are playing Monday and put on a fabulous show.

  15. max

    How many of you have been on the other side? ever worked at a venue? ever done production work? ever worked at a venue in a small city in the bible belt south? how many of you know what the A.L.E cops do? know how many times they come to the Peel unannounced looking for reason to write citations? They do. Thats a fact.
    Bet you didn’t know this: if someone sparks a joint in the club while the ALE douchebags are there….it’s the clubs ass in a sling. Bring your own booze into a venue that only has a license for beer/wine?…..serious fine. Any bar that has liquor has to have orange “tax paid” stickers on all the bottles which are to be scratched off when disposed of? The ALE has actually gone dumpster diving looking for bottles without the stickers sratched off. I don’t know why, but it is a fact. Not to mention when the fire marshal decides to stop in to try and cite the club for too many people. I bet if you looked into it….in the five years the Peel has been around, they have yet to make any profit….a good year is one where you break even. Do you honestly think a club is rolling in cash from ticket sales? look into it.
    Look where you live. how many acts have rolled into town for a gig at the peel that you’d never have seen had the venue not opened it’s doors? You should be glad you have options. I can’t believe you people are actually bitching about this. Could you look at it for a moment what the management goes through to avoid hassles while all you have to do is come through the door and NOT do the four or five things they ask you not to do. The bigger picture is…..a few people always ruin it for everyone. Thank them.

    my spelling sucks.

  16. Stabbings, searches both by government and by forced proxy, drinking, hard drugs, transport costs, ticket costs, and ALE are all reasons to avoid live music and listen to either recorded music or silence. However you did answer a question that we did ask, which is are you being forced into these searches by government? The answer is yes. So why play music in the “bible belt south” anyway when we can all move to Nevada as I plan to do, and leave both the stabbers and the ALE twiddling their thumbs.

  17. Nelly Furbelly

    “Now what do they do? Only search for weapons at rap shows? That would discrimination wouldn’t it? Only search for drugs at jamband shows? That too would be discrimination.”

    The search policy is completely arbitrary, differs from show to show and is strictly speaking “profiling.” If searches worked, then people wouldn’t be smoking pot in the venue, and we all know that pot smoke is commonplace at this and other clubs. If one commits a crime in a venue, it doesn’t automatically mean any harm will come to the venue or the owners, only if the club is 100% negligent and that is a difficult burden of proof to achieve.

    These practices are born out of ignorance and paranoia and have no place in a free society.

  18. max

    For the last time…..don’t you get it? All that stuff is cool at burning man because you are in the middle of the desert! To release themselves from liability (or getting sued or fined or eventually shut down) the staff have to make an effort to say they tried to prevent it. Then, if you light the joint while a plainclothsed cop is there, they can say “hey….we searched”. Why can’t you just make some brownies or SMOKE IN YOUR CAR??!!! how hard is that to figure out!!??? blah blah blah…”free society” blah . Jeez…..you are free not to go through the front door. You are free to open your mouth and speak to another human to say “you don’t have to be rude” instead of passive agressive letter-to-the editor-writing. Go see a show in NYC or DEtroit you spoiled brat, see how “free” it is there.

    -why do I bother?

  19. Wally McLendon

    I used to feel like the Orange Peel was my home but the way they treat the crowd is out of hand. I have been to hundreds of shows at the Peel and they have gotten out of hand recently. The last two times they had Dark Star it was a Nasi type search.

    They searched inside my wallet the last time! What and invasion. It has made me miss some of the music at the peel since I can go to the Garage or Stella with out the hassel.

    OP… Think about your tactics. Use the staff to control the crowd when they are in the club. People are very respectful of the venue and staff until you start invading our rights and treating us like crimals.

    Don’t have the most intrusive search in the business! It’s affecting peoples opinion of the club. It’s not our home anymore! Be respectful and everyone else will be.

    This is a BIG PROBLEM THAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED or patrons will show less and less.

  20. “The search policy is completely arbitrary, differs from show to show and is strictly speaking “profiling.” If searches worked, then people wouldn’t be smoking pot in the venue, and we all know that pot smoke is commonplace at this and other clubs. If one commits a crime in a venue, it doesn’t automatically mean any harm will come to the venue or the owners, only if the club is 100% negligent and that is a difficult burden of proof to achieve.”

    I don’t know what shows you go to, but I hardly smell pot smoke at the Peel, even during the Flaming Lips.

    We all know that searches are not 100% effective, but a search like the one that they do I’m pretty sure would absolve them of negligence.

    There might be more behind the recent ramping up of searches. Perhaps they have already been sued or fined?

  21. travelah

    Wally, searching a wallet is over the top and worthy of avoiding the place in the future. Bands like Dark Star should find another venue in the area to play in. I have not seen Dark Star at the OP because of their unreasonable search policy even though I’ve been a wharf rat for years. It is a shame this place is so draconian.

  22. Nelly Furbelly

    Passive aggressive is in the eye of the beholder. Freedom is freedom which means taking responsibility for yourself and the consequences of living in a free society. It’s not just lip service to the ideal (blah, blah, blah) to defend the foundation of our society. Maybe Max you’ll get it when Burning Man starts searching cars and backpacks.

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