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Banning Alcohol at Concerts

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - 01:25 PM

So Van Morrison has banned booze at his UK concerts. The idea of banning alcohol at a concert makes about as much sense as banning beer at the ballpark. Look, no one wants to have to deal with drunken audience members – not the musicians, not the hall owners, and not the people nearby who are worried about hearing the music or cleaning vomit off their shoes. But part of the experience of live music is having a drink and unwinding after a long day – or winding up for a long night. Opera and orchestra concerts offer drinks at intermissions and before the show – though they don’t generally allow drinks in the hall itself. But at many rock clubs, where you end up standing all night, often waiting well past the announced start time before hearing the music, having a beer or two makes the evening move along a bit more smoothly. Of course, the beer is often watered-down swill, and hideously overpriced. So at the other end of the alcohol/concert spectrum is something equally distasteful: places that actually try to force you to drink – “cover charge + two-drink minimum,” or something like that. Fortunately, that problem is easily solved: never go to those places.

It is very hard to legislate moderation – but ballparks have tried, having learned the hard way that allowing customers unrestricted access to beer often results in other customers staying away. And it seems to have helped a bit – many ballparks don’t sell beer after the 7th inning, so fans at a blowout don’t turn to drinking games for entertainment instead. I don’t know if you could take what works at Yankee Stadium and make it work for the Bowery Ballroom, but presumably if you’re at a concert, you’re there because you’re genuinely interested in the music, and don’t want to be completely blotto by the end, which is, after all, supposed to be the best part. And I’m not sure banning alcohol will solve the problem anyway – you can’t control how much drinking the fans do at the bar next door before the concert starts, after all. It strikes me as feeling a bit like middle school, where a couple of troublemakers could get detention for a whole class. (Which reminds me - sorry, class 201A.) If we’re adult enough to earn the money to buy the tickets to attend your show, treat us like adults. Now pour me a damn beer.

What do you think about alcohol at concerts? Does it contribute to the event, or do you prefer a more, um, sober approach? Leave a comment.

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