My RHCP experience

2013-02-04 16:20
red hot chili peppers
Big Concerts are lying about there not being Chaos at the RHCP concert. I'm not complaining about the fact that there were crowds and long queues. It's that there was very little control over the large crowds and queues turning into pushing fests as a result.

Please find below a summary of my experience which I have sent to Big Concerts as a complaint. Frankly, I am surprised there were no major injuries related to people pushing and shoving.
To Whom It May Concern

My group of friends and I were very excited to attend the Red Hot Chili Peppers Concert at FNB Stadium. We were very relieved to get General Standing tickets seeing as tickets sold out so quickly.

We got to the venue early by car and braaied in the parking lot to wait for gates to open. About an hour and a half before the show was due to start we went to the actual stadium. This is where the chaos happened.

I could write a very detailed note about our sequence of events but I'm going to try keep it short:

1. Tickets say go to turnstile 15 - 19, we opt for 15. When getting to front of queue to go through gate guard turns us to gate M because we need armband. We're confused because ticket does not say gate M, but we go.

2. No queue there, just a lot of people (massive group of bunched up people – several hundred) confused and sick of being sent to pillar to post. We join crowd and eventually get through what we think is the right entrance/gate. Have no armbands though. No helpful officials around. Some officials saying that we have to go back to Gate K. No sign of armbands. Later find out the crowd had gotten so irritated they had broken down the barriers and that is how we unwittingly ended up in the wrong area without an armband. It was clear at this point that a lot of people didn't know they need to queue for an actual armband to get access to the field.

3. After talking to people in the crowd we figure out where to get armbands and finally do.

4. Get into stadium and have to join cluster of more confused irritated people. People who don't have armbands have to get sent back. Anger and confusion at the stairs. Big delay. A few people suggest a stampede. Imagine what would have happened if this had come to be. This is what happens when people wait for hours and get no direction.

5. Finally get onto field. Missed Die Antwoord so had been shoved around, confused and unassisted for almost two hours. Missed part of the show we paid a lot of money for.

6. Generally standing obviously overfull (oversold?) which is dangerous.  If an emergency were to happen I cringe to think where we would have ended up.

7. Because overfull can’t stand anywhere to see stage. We a bit short, lots and lots of tall people everywhere. We couldn't see the stage no matter how far got.

8. Chili Peppers were great. Very disappointed in organisation

9. Leaving parking lot also a mess because there are no officials in the parking lots to navigate traffic. More fences get torn down and cars getting onto the road from all directions. Totally messes with the flow of traffic.

10. Traffic flows reasonably well once you're in the road. Shows problem is not four way stop or access to stadium. Simply the control of access within and out of the parking lots.

My suggestions to fix this:

1. Make sure tickets are printed with the gate number general standing has to go through. People in seating can go according to turnstile number (a soccer stadium is obviously set up to deal only with seats and therefore this works well) but this is not good enough when general standing needs to get bottled through one entrance for obvious reasons (getting an armband). Say on ticket you need to get armband access to field.

2. Two signs pointing randomly to Gate M not good enough. Correct info on ticket needs to be coupled with a lot of signs (which should also mention the armband) and a lot of officials who actually seem to know what they are doing.

3. If people know what is expected from them from the beginning they will be a lot more patient and not push down fences.

4. Use the broadest stairway to allow people entrance into the concert. Don't block off half of the broadest stairway so that it's useless and then expect people to come in through a thinner stairway and leave on the other half of the broadest stairway (which still seemed broader than the entrance stairway). Once the show is over people leave through both stairways anyway so it doesn't matter that the exit is the narrower stairway during the show.

5. Don't oversell general standing and control the access better (which would once again be easier if people were calmer because their initial entering of the stadium was easier and they were therefore calmer).  

6. Build the stage a bit higher. Two meters would have made the world of difference to everyone.

7. Get more officials in the parking lot to help direct traffic (not just at the gate).

8. Find a way to get more "gates" into the parking lot. Build a few structures over the ditches so that people can easily and safely get through these once they go through "new" gates you can open up at these bridges.

I trust you will take this matter seriously as I really think a disaster was narrowly avoided. We will never buy general standing tickets again if this is the kind of effort it costs just to get onto the field and if you risk missing part of the show despite paying more. Exasperated by the fact that we paid more to not even be able to see the stage - a problem we've never had at any concert ever before.

I look forward to you taking my suggestions into consideration when you plan any future events at this venue.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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