Kirsten Rawlins: Security staff make or break rock 'n' roll spirit

As an avid music fan I’ve been to hundreds of shows and festivals – each one of them very different in terms of venue, genre and feel.

Dee Snider at Bloodstock Festival 2019
Dee Snider at Bloodstock Festival 2019

And after having attended so many, I feel my partner and I more than likely have less patience than ever when it comes to the little things: prices, atmosphere, security and facilities.

This summer we attended Bloodstock Open Air near Lichfield: a four-day metal festival held in the middle of the countryside, attended by masses of rock fans from across Europe.

Playing the event were top acts including rock icons Scorpions, shock rock idol and Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, Midland musician and Judas Priest co-founder KK Downing, and many more.

We’d been forecast poor weather conditions and high winds caused huge issues for the staff trying to ensure they kept everyone safe.

But it failed to dampen spirits - You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll.

Fears over artists’ safety in the gale force winds led to one band – Cradle of Filth, for those who know their black metal – even being postponed until the following day while crews worked hard to ensure the lighting on the main stage was sufficiently secured.

Screens either side of the stage even had to be taken down.

Amid all the wind and bouts of rain – which led to peoples’ belongings and food being blown everywhere and fans and staff alike having to wade through muddy puddles – security staff at the Catton Park event remained upbeat, relaxed and jovial.

And it made such a difference.

One even joked that welly-wearing festivalgoers’ laces were untied; keeping a record for themselves as to how many they could fool.

It was all done with the very best of intentions, kept us music lovers positive, and made the atmosphere friendly and laid back.

This is precisely what we needed after living in a field for three days battling the elements. The wind was so bad on our first night that we barely slept due to being battered by gales – and we woke up the following morning to a tent which had been well and truly destroyed, with all three rods holding it up now split and torn by the weather.

And I don’t think it was just us who were uplifted by the wonderful security staff either. All festivalgoers we encountered were friendly – if a little drunk – and delighted just to be there.

We’ve been to many events and come across so many snotty, dictator-like security staff and bouncers – and it truly rubs us up the wrong way, leaving us unhappy for the rest of the show.

This was not the case even once at Bloodstock and it truly made a huge difference.

There’s no arguing that security staff have a very difficult job.

Particularly following events such as the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017 which saw 22 people killed at an Ariana Grande concert.

And it’s completely true to say thorough searches absolutely make us feel safer.

Not long after the horrors in Manchester we attended a Marilyn Manson concert at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. We’d never seen them at the city centre venue before, but metal detectors were suddenly on the doors and people and their belongings were consistently being heavily searched.

It was done well, with respect and professionalism. And it truly put us at ease.

It’s vital we keep the live music scene alive, but there’s no denying incidents such as that in 2017 do make people fear such events.

But there’s no need for security guards to be nasty, pushy or rude. And sadly many are.

There are even Birmingham events I have been to where I have been so upset after being treated badly by a security guard at the front door that it has ruined my entire night. It’s honestly put me off ever returning to venues.

The same can be said for bar staff at Midland venues, who’ve spoken down to my mum simply for only having cash or standing in the ‘wrong’ place.

There’s nothing like a snotty member of staff to really wreck your night.

Yet the staff at Bloodstock have to take care of thousands of fans - no doubt a whole bunch of awkward, drunken messes. But they did so with real grace, patience and humour.

And it was truly noticed.

So security guards, please take note.

We’re all at gigs to have a good time. You’re there to look after us, not belittle us, treat us like cattle and ruin the show.

The attitude taken on by the Showsec staff at Bloodstock even seemed to make their lives easier – and they seemed to be having a good time themselves, rather than being wound up the entire time.

Their approach to security made it better for everyone.

And there wasn’t a single second when we didn’t feel safe.

Great job guys. We can’t wait to return next year.

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