Red Fang at Mill City Nights was great… Yeah, except for the fact that Mill City Nights doesn’t allow you to take cameras within the venue. Naturally, since I infrequently contribute to a music blog I enjoy catching a show featuring one of my favorite bands, and maybe taking photos. Red Fang is absolutely about the things I love; drinking beer, partying, being broke, living in Portland (well maybe not that), and being hyper-trendy by just being original. I thought for a moment that I could get into Mill City Nights and snap some photos for a write-up; I was wrong. That is why this post has no photo.
Wednesday, June 4th, hours before the show, I sit at work watching the clock and contemplating either (a) selling the extra tickets I purchased, or (b) begging my other friends to join me. When Red Fang announced their show in Minneapolis I scooped up 6 tickets (the limit), because when Alt-J came I couldn’t have purchased enough tickets. I thought Red Fang would sell out in a heartbeat. I was wrong. I had 6 tickets and no takers. 7 pm hits, Dan texted me to let me know he had made it, he was in. I told him no worries, biked home, and put on my rocking pants and downed a rum and coke. Dan, Ryan, and Caroline showed at my house at about 7:45 pm. I was about 5 ribs deep in dinner and 3 beers down and ready to go. Meanwhile my camera battery was charging in the living room. I was prepared to get some epic shots.
8:30 pm we bike to the venue- all 4 of us, about a 1.5 mile jaunt. I bring an extra lock, we lock our bikes to a tree, and this is where the problem begins; firstly, Dan has a 3 inch pocket knife, as do I, that security over zealously locates on his person, and they lose their shit. I sell my 2 extra tickets no problem, at face value, just before I step in line to get groped. Dan’s knife is about as threatening as safety scissors. He puts it by the bikes which are locked to a tree. The security lady finds my knife. I also hide my knife next to the tree. After all of this I get back in line and I reach the security lady again, and it’s, “open the bag…” In my bag is a Sony Alpha 390, and an extra lens. The lady gives me a quizzical look and I am confused. She says, “That can’t come in, you’ll have to put it in a car.” I tell her I biked, she says “too bad”. More security converges on me, they laugh and tell me they can take care of it, but I won’t get it back. I am completely baffled. I am not allowed to take photos? Why can a paying patron at a venue not bring a digital camera within the premise? I must ask… Apparently this is Mill City Nights’ policy, unless you are press. See www.millcitynights.com/frequently-asked-questions
There was really no answer, just “those are the rules…”
I am totally blown away by this claim. I purchased my tickets, I brought in 5 other people who effectively spend money, which amplifies the business Mill City Nights generates, and I am not allowed to bring in my personal camera to document my experience. This is completely fucked. Worst service I have ever had…
Two security guards; the lady and another guy shake their heads and tell me it is impossible to get inside with my camera. Their meat-head manager is standing above them with arms crossed. He is looking on disparagingly- specifically at me, confirming a good find to his subordinates. He laughs in his salmon colored button up shirt, in his fake tan and straight teeth. He shakes his head too, and acknowledges the good work by his cronies.
I literally am confounded. I make suggestions. To everything I say the answer is “Nope.” “We just can’t do it.” The manager tells me I can request a “press pass”, “just go inside and ask for a press pass.” He says. I think: Okay, why can’t I just go inside with my camera? Surely I am not going to leave it out here with these unhelpful individuals, and my camera is not dangerous, or anything that would cause a problem. This was clearly a power trip in progress. Give some people an inch and they go a mile.
I am holding up the lines, my friends are waiting. I walk inside, I ask for a “press pass” which, of course, I am denied. I am told by the man behind the counter “sorry”. He puts his arms in the air as if that is a good enough excuse. I walk back with Dan to the security guards and their manager.
At this moment I realize there is no way I am bringing my camera in, at least in a functioning capacity. I suspect the “press pass” is for paying members of the media; I wonder what City Pages et al. pay to get the best photos. I think of how they take away competition by putting a price on it, a proper monopoly. It goes to show you who and what runs the city of Minneapolis, at least publication-wise, and I mean advertisements and currency.
Dan tries to reason with all 3, and miraculously they ponder some alternative aside from me biking home to store the camera…
The guards tell me to take my camera out of the bag so they can inspect it. They tell me because I brought an extra lens I cannot bring it inside, certainly. However, they say maybe if I take the battery out and give it to them I can keep the camera, it’s that or give up my baby. I hand over the battery, they assure me that they are not responsible for it being lost or damaged (even with it in their possession). How convenient. The guard takes my battery rendering my camera useless and won’t guarantee its safe keeping- fuckin’ thanks. Mill City Nights at its best; the worst.
The show itself was a different story. The crowd was alive and ready to go. I saw some local punk types and some out-of-towners alike. The opening act was a treat- I forget the name because of the hubbub which took place upon entry. But they played their part well.
Now, we are front and center sipping on PBR’s, naturally, and waiting in anticipation. I look in front of the gate to see some preppy kid with a Canon snapping photos. He is wearing a multi-colored button-up that his mom probably ironed before the show. To my amazement, another cameraman wearing almost identical attire steps in front of the gate as well. They are snapping like their lives depend on it! They are even escorted by security, ha! Presently, I see why I wasn’t allowed to bring my camera. These guys had it covered, they must be important. The first act ends with some drum solo a cappella bit. It was interesting. I was ready for Red Fang.
Exit first band left stage pursued by a bear- in the darkness of the room and the lights of the stage. Sound check for Red Fang goes off without a hitch. I can see every member of Red Fang plain as day. They came to rock. Some guy with dreads asks me about the camera situation, I tell him I am not with any publication- I don’t work for City Pages or Vita.mn. He is more inquisitive. I tell him I am a spy. I am here on a secret mission, almost foiled at the gate. I am sort of famous now at this show- kind of neat. He asks me about the make and model and scoots in front of me to get a better spot. He is completely confused about the camera situation. I don’t think he even cares.
Red Fang starts up. The whole show is a rush of energy. The smell of sweat and vomit creeps into my nose. They play most of my favorite songs from their first 2 records and some new ones. The crowd goes nuts. Red Fang is probably not used to seeing mosh pits, being from Portland and such. They asked the crowd if there is a problem, if we were mad at each other. The crowd settled a bit only up until the last few songs, which of course were the most noteworthy. “Wires” started the last 3 song stretch and everyone went crazy again.There was one mediocre song in the mix and then they brought it home with “Prehistoric Dog”. I was very satisfied with the performance, and the in-set banter. These guys are savvy and clever.
The set was great, both bands rocked the house. There was just enough quality music to leave satisfied. During the show I was scanning the stage watching the versatile artists, each contributing to the wall of sound. My head was sort of sideways waiting for another row of legs and bows to be thrown, but up until the final song it was subdued and comfortable.
The highlight of the night was definitely the douchiness of the staff at Mill City Nights, top-tier lameness. A one-star Yelp review is in store.
I would advise people not to bring a camera, even if they care to capture their experience (one they paid for). The staff members are not kind, not friendly, and strictly in the business to make money. Their rules are oppressive and somewhat demeaning. Not to mention it’s embarrassing to be subjected to adversities because of a camera, in front of others while the security people and manager get a boner. My camera by no means is anything super fancy. It is a point-and-shoot with a decent lens. Whatever the reason for the no-camera-policy, I think it is completely backward. As much as I want to believe it is for a logical reason the signs point to money and local publications influence of material output. I certainly can’t outdo them sans my battery. I suggest avoiding this venue outright if you believe in freedom of press, but if you must go to see a favorite act make sure you don’t bring anything for documentation purposes. Or, as they say, just get a “press pass”, especially if you want to snap some photos for fun on an amateur camera.
This snafu was on par with the T-shirt salesmen at the Converge show needing a break, I had money on hand. He was about to cry to the union. But that was another time, another story.