Concert safety: From language to dress to mosh pits, parents have a little homework to do

By Caitlin Orton and Hillary Bowler

Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Sept. 1 2011 5:00 p.m. MDT

Every concert is different, but the experiences aren't dictated solely by the attendee. Responsibility also falls to parents and venues.

Parents who have concerns about their child attending a concert need to do their homework.

Brandon Bates, a branch manager for Contemporary Services Corp., a security company hired by United Concerts to work venues from USANA Amphitheater to The Depot, said the atmosphere of concerts changes with every performer, and as a result, so does the security.

"My whole staffing need will change based on the artist and style of music," Bates said. "With BB King, I will not be working all my big guys, but you better believe when Snoop Dogg is in town I will have more big guys than small."

Jim Olson, senior vice president of sales and marketing and guest services at EnergySolutions Arena, also understands the impact the hosted performer can have on the venue.

"We are cautious about (what artists) we bring into our building," he said, adding that ESA tries to stick to shows worthy of support.

Kevin Bruder, general manager at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, remembers phone calls from shocked parents who didn't seem to know much about the performers their children bought tickets to see.

"We may receive a phone call saying, 'We couldn't believe the band swore on stage,' but if you listen to the CD, it swears every other word," he said.

Bates offered tips he uses himself when he's preparing to work an event.

"A little Internet research can go a long way," he said. "YouTube is a wonderful tool. Everyone and their dog is posting up video from shows now, and this will give you a great idea of what you are sending your child into."

The artist isn't the only thing for parents to research. Olson emphasized how important it is for parents to know what options they have at the venue, including carpool and pick-up areas. ESA offers a parents' room — a separate room at the venue for parents to wait in during the concert — as a free accommodation. Other venues provide similar options, such as an air-conditioned tent set aside for parents at the Vans Warped Tour.

Bruder said that if parents are worried about a certain venue, they should investigate. The Maverik Center welcomes phone calls from parents, and most venues have a website or Facebook page. If the atmosphere depends largely on the performing artist, the kinds of concerts a venue regularly hosts will clue parents in to the general environment.

And then, there's good old-fashioned communication between parent and child.

"It gives parents a good opportunity to talk to their kids about crowds and concerts, and for parents to bond with their child and talk about crowd issues," said Jim McNeil, president of United Concerts.

It's the venue's responsibility is follow the law and provide a safe environment, but parents should lay down their own law for their teen or young adult with regards to drinking, drugs, curfew and general concert behavior.

"It is up to them to behave themselves, keep themselves hydrated, monitor their alcohol intake," Bates said. "We cannot babysit and monitor every single patron."

Sorber's kids are too young to go to concerts alone, but she's teaching them now about concert behavior.

"At a certain point your kids have to (choose for themselves) — you can't just shield them from life," she said. "Hopefully I will have taught him."

If parents are still worried about their kids attending a concert despite all their research and preparation, they may consider cramping their teen's style and getting extra tickets — for themselves.

"If I were a parent, I would go down (to the concert) with my kid," Jarman said. "They might not want you with them, but go see what it's like for yourself."

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