Good Charlotte (50)
Creative Commons License photo credit: 0uT$!d£r

Back in May, I wrote about a highly unfortunate experience that I had at a Diddy/Dirty Money concert at The NorVa, a concert hall in Norfolk, Virginia. A member of the tour’s security team was verbally and physically threatening toward me and a member of the venue’s security only made it worse.

But, the fact that it was an official with the tour underscored, for me, the importance of carefully choosing the people who stand on the front line, dealing directly with your customers. It is no longer acceptable to just be the “muscle” or a button pusher – everyone who interacts with your fans and your customers is an ambassador that can make or break a relationship.

That’s why I was glad to hear about what happened when Good Charlotte performed at The NorVa on Tuesday night. My brother Sean was in attendance and he relayed to me the details that I’ll share below.

Another band, Yellowcard, went on before Good Charlotte. During their time on stage, a girl was hit in the neck during some crowd surfing gone wrong. She appeared OK, but this seemed to lead to some increased security presence which extended into the Good Charlotte show. Venue security began to stand right in the middle of the crowd.

The problem was, the security people weren’t necessarily watching for any violence (none occurred) as much as they were intimidating people who had cameras and camera phones. Camera phones could be seen throughout the hall and during just the first few songs of the Good Charlotte set, Sean personally saw at least 5 people get approached and, in some cases, threatened with expulsion, just for having a camera or camera phone pointed toward the stage.

This intimidation apparently did not sit well with the band because, after those opening handful of songs, Good Charlotte lead singer Joel Madden stopped and said that, while he understood that security was just trying to make sure that everyone was safe, could they please get out of the middle of the crowd because their fans came to see a Good Charlotte show and they can’t do that with security hovering over them, looking like they are “waiting for them to do something wrong.” The security in the middle of the crowd did not move.

After finishing their next song, Joel Madden stopped again and talked with his brother, Benji, who plays rhythm guitar. Joel was visibly angry. After their conversation, Joel went up to the microphone and asked the security to please “get the f*** out of the middle of the crowd,” adding that they didn’t have to be in that specific location. He was angry and apologetic at the same time, saying that he wasn’t trying to be disrespectful or to criticize the security, but that this was going too far.

Once again, security didn’t move. Joel, still behind the mic, apologized to the fans. The band refused to play until security left fans alone. Joel Madden, along with his brother, sat down in front of the drum kit, while the other members stood still. After a minute or so, a member or two of the venue security who was at the front of the stage appeared to lift another member of the security team right in front of the stage, facing the Maddens. He appeared to be tugging at his shirt, as if to highlight the word “security” on the front. This person wasn’t up and down. They remained in the air, in front of the Maddens for an extended period of time. The band just looked at him, did not move and did not say anything as their silent protest continued.

After the person climbed down, the security officials who were standing in the middle of the crowd left, parting the crowd as they did. The crowd applauded, Joel Madden got up and went to the mic. He said that they should be grateful to The NorVa security for leaving and not making it a big deal, because it didn’t need to be. He told fans to have a great time, but to make sure that they treat each other well, so that security isn’t tempted to come back out. The show resumed, went great and there was no further incident.

Good Charlotte (123)
Creative Commons License photo credit: 0uT$!d£r

Joel Madden, the community manager. Venue security may not like Good Charlotte, but the Good Charlotte fans who were in the building, the Good Charlotte community, their appreciation for the band was underscored that night because Madden stood up for them and defended them against unfair treatment when he was realistically one of the only people in the venue with the power to do so.

If anyone else in the room had criticized security, they likely would have been physically escorted off the premises, without discussion. Good Charlotte could have kept playing, collected their check and left – but, they cared enough to do something and they got a result.

Now, some might say that security was just doing their job (well, except for the part where the security people hoisted the other security person in front of the Maddens… I’m not sure how that can be construed as their job). That there had been an incident and the venue may face liability, and lawsuits, if something serious were to happen in their house. So, because of that, they need to defend themselves and must be mean, ruthless and intimidating to do so. I understand that point, even if I disagree with it.

Some people who work venue security are well meaning people who try hard. Not necessarily at The NorVa, but in concert venues around the world. At the same time, some are jerks that, given a little power, push people around for no reason. I think that Good Charlotte understands that if a fan gets harassed by security, a fan has a bad show and that impacts their feeling toward the band. That’s a good understanding to have because, like it or not, the people on the front line and how they treat your fans will have an impact on how your fans think of you, even if you don’t employ those front line people yourself.

In my case, what happened at the Diddy show was even worse because the person who threatened me was with the tour, not the venue – and a venue security official only made it worse. This indicates that, either the management for Diddy’s tour doesn’t understand how to deal with fans,  they poorly communicated their expectations or poorly train their security people or, at the very least, the one guy was a rogue official who was acting in this manner on his own. But, no matter what, he worked for the tour, not for the venue and negatively impacted my experience.

When you see someone who is attacking your community, the people who give you the money so that you can do what you do, in an unfair way – stand up for them and use your influence to help them get better treatment. Your loyalty to them will be repaid, many times over.