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August 17, 2010

Rock crowds drink the most at Merriweather

richard branson serves beer at last year's Virgin Mobile FreeFest

Last November, when I saw Bruce Springsteen at 1st Mariner Arena, the number of drunk folks stunned me.

Some people were so sloshed they could barely walk, before the show even began. I was strolling up the street next to two dudes who were trying -- and failing -- to have a conversation with each other. It was more like a stream of drunken ramblings.

During the show, I saw one dude tumble head-first down the aisle next to me, and another sloshed sucker kept yelling for "Streets of Philadelphia" while Springsteen did a solo piano version of "For You." I wanted to open-palm slap him.

So it should come as no surprise that rock fans tend to drink more than most other audiences, according to Michael Palad, operations manager for Charm City Hospitality, which handles Merriweather Post Pavilion's drink and food sales ...

"Those guys love to drink," Palad said. "Anything that rocks, sells."

The most recent example of this was the M3 Rock Festival, which featured the Scorpions, Kix and everybody's favorite dough boy '80s singer, Vince Neil.

I'm going to generalize for a bit and try to explain why older rock fans love to drink so much. In the '70s and early '80s (before I came along), my parents were huge live music fans. They used to hop on a bus from the Eastern Shore and head to Merriweather for shows all the time. Back then, crowds used to get sloshed all the time, they said. They make it sound like quite the scene.

I'll bet many of the folks who still go to see Poison, Motley Crue, Kix and even Springsteen drink like fishes because they always have, and they always will. For them, a show wouldn't be the same without a case of Miller, Coors or Bud in the belly. And this is probably tame, compared to what they consumed pre-show back in the day. Again, this is just my guess.

Country music fans like to eat and drink, Palad said. And this past weekend's David Gray/Ray LaMontagne double bill stood out as well, he said.

"We sold the most wine all year," he said. 


(Baltimore Sun photo of rebel billionaire Richard Branson serving beer at Merriweather Post Pavilion last year by Christopher T. Assaf)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:58 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music


Well, I'm sorry Sam. Instead of "Philadelphia" next time I'll request "Hungry Heart"!

I think the best part of the picture is Flavor Flav in the background. I just laughed out loud.

@Jay In Fells Point -- Much better. I'll shout with you for that one.

Sam, do they have a weed vendor at Merriweather too? I counted at least half a dozen 14-16 year olds getting high at the MGMT concert this past weekend.

Maybe somebody should pass a law making that kind of stuff illegal?

Speaking of Flava Flav- I went to the PE concert @ 9:30 on Saturday and rocked out back stage with them- I think it was my favorite concert experience ever- and I've been to a trillion.

the only way i could go see a Springsteen concert is utterly and totally inebriated.

One issue is that many of these concerts are expensive. So people feel a special level of entitlement to act like a moron. Another is that, especially for the oldies acts like Poison (I'm old too), it's often the only time to get out of the house and away from the family and catch up with friends, so they turn the party up to 11. If you go out to place such as Sonar or Ottobar where prices are lower (usually) and going out is more frequent, you'll usually see better behaved crowds.

@ppp1 -- I dunno man, I've seen my share of drunken idiots at club shows, too. I think it depends on the act, and the type of people the act draws.

I'm in my late 40's (wow, it feels weird to say that) and still like new hard rock and metal, so I get out to some shows, and ppp1 is right, the younger people you find at shows for current rock bands hold their liquor better. I've been to a bunch of Ozzfests and assorted other shows, and people who get out a lot know the drill and control themselves better.

OTOH, my single worst experience with bad drunks was at a Fleetwood Mac show, expensive and full of us aging yuppies and baby boomers. It started with a middle-aged woman in the row in front of us who, apparently out of practice for heavy drinking, threw up all over a whole bunch of people, and then it went downhill from there.

I've had friends with simliar puke, urine and belligerance stories from other shows that draw a little older crowd. Some people who could no doubt party hard 20 years ago have lost the tolerance they'd built up, and things get messy.

There was a lot of drinking at shows back then, but I'd say there's still a lot of drinking at shows nowadays, isn't there?

It is my intention to get blottoed at rock shows. I figured that it should be in the fine print on your tickets; EXPECT DRUNK PEOPLE, THEY ARE SELLING LIQUOR HERE!
Put on your rubbers and get in a limo it's probably one maybe two nights a year for some people to get out. That or switch to country music and suffer domestic violence.


@BaltoSteve -- that's kinda sad, but it makes sense. Whenever I see J. Roddy Walston and the Business, I'm tempted to drink myself cross-eyed.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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