Photo Credit: Jason Lee, Facebook
Having been on both sides of the concert fence, it’s hard to enjoy a concert these days without trying to figure out how things work behind the scenes. Here’s my semi-expert take on the ground situation that day.
The performance was excellent in the way that only an old school fan can appreciate. The few seconds of sound glitch during one of Slash’s solo was not an issue as most of us already have the riffs in our head and happy to fill in the gaps. The boys were pudgy and more subdued than their younger selves, but so are we – the concertgoers, who grew up in an era where music was angry and songs weren’t all about bitches and blings. An era where torn jeans were cool and bandana was the rebellious reincarnation of the proper gentlemen’s handkerchief.
If you were there purely for the music, you would have enjoyed the show and probably walked away not knowing that there were thousands of angry fans behind you who spent the entire show queuing up for food and drinks that they may never get.
So what went wrong? Under budget and underestimation.
Guns & Roses, Not In This Life Time concert. You don’t have to be an industry expert to know that this is going to be costly. At 50,000 capacity, this is the largest concert turnout Singapore has ever seen but not large enough to make a decent profit without raising ticket prices to ridiculous amounts and lose audience in the process. Rock and a hard place.
So what can LAMC do? Slash on operational cost, and most times, this means manpower gets cut.
The venue is huge enough to easily accommodate the turnout but they weren’t effectively utilised. Whoever in-charge of the front of house had expected a gradual flow of traffic and did not account of sudden influx an hour before show time. Middle-aged concertgoers aren’t as free with their schedule as their younger counterparts who are known for camping overnight for concerts.
Having more staff stationed at entrance points, accompanied by security personnel will help. Double the headcount, maybe even triple it. Security can be costly but these guys are trained to manage crowd and aggression. When things get heated up, a trained personnel is worth more than ten underpaid teenagers. I don’t remember seeing many of them around the place.
The next point is a no-brainer. It’s a rock concert; expect people to want to drink. LAMC could easily have covered the cost of bar overheads with drink sales. Maybe they under estimated the spending power of their customers. An event at Fort Canning Green with half the turnout has just as many F&B point as they had at the GNR concert. I don’t think this is the result of cost cutting. I’m guessing the planner is a non-drinker and this is an oversight.
The traffic issue is not directly LAMC’s fault. That’s just part of the venue’s limitation. What they could have done is hire more buses. Again, whoever planned this, did not scale up the resource to fit the turnout. What concertgoers could have done too is to come earlier and not waltz in an hour before show and expect the red carpet treatment.
Besides purely hiring headcount, LAMC needed a kick-ass manager to pull it all together who can work extremely calm under pressure. Perhaps, even have an experienced team of regular freelancers who knows exactly how to improvise solutions without needing clearance all the time. A good team is not easy to put together primarily because work for concert isn't regular and people rely on their better paying jobs for survival. So concert promoters end up hiring young, cheap labour to fill the gaps.
P.S. I did not pee in the cups. I queued for the toilet. You can read my personal experience of the concert here.