I was there. Neck Deep, Rock City Monday 9th of October 2017.
If you are reading this then you have probably heard or seen comments that hit the social networks. Most of which were condemning the security staff on duty. Let's take it back to when I arrived.
I actually missed the first band sadly as I was queuing to get in. I watched both sets by Real Friends and As It Is and managed to get the first 3 songs of each set to get some photos. Both these bands were great and I hope to get chance to shoot both again. The singer from As It Is needs a special mention, a very energetic front man. After the first 3 songs of each bands set, I stood at the side and watched the rest of their performance. During each bands set, there were a number of crowd surfers and as far as I saw each individual was carefully removed from the top of the crowd and placed in the pit and were shown to exit the without incident. I did actually think to myself at the time that I wouldnt fancy doing what those guys were doing, as it usually meant one security guy was trying to lift somebody usually with arms and legs flailing around off of the top of the crowd. Then trying to place them down from the back of the barrier onto the ground without dropping them and the individual is still thrashing around like they're trying to swat a wasp. Security on the night were also handing out bottles of water to people at the front of the crowd and I did see a couple of times where they were asking if fans were OK.
The review site here is 3 songs and out and there is good reason for that. Usually you get 3 songs to try and capture the band doing their thing and after that time you leave. Now to the main event, Neck Deep. I had looked at this gig and as an amateur photographer thought it would be an awesome chance to shoot an upcoming, energetic band. Plus I like a bit of Pop Punk even at my age. I always like these type of shows because they're full of movement and it pushes me as a photographer. I was standing at the side of the stage waiting for the band to take to the stage and I was approached by one of the bands team and informed I would be able to do one song and a minute or so of the second and to stay out of the zoned areas marked on the floor with red tape. Now I have no problem with that. I was just happy to be there. The band came on stage and you could tell they were pumped and who could fault them. A sold out show in front of a room full of screaming fans. The curtain dropped and the first song began. As soon as it was possible, off I went into the pit to do my thing. Doing as instructed, staying out the zoned areas and trying to get as many angles as I could of as many of the band members as possible. Now, if you've never been in that situation it can get a bit busy as you are sharing the space with security staff, other photographers and sometimes some of the bands team.
The first song ended and the second song had just begun and I found myself towards the side of the stage. Rather than go back into the pit which would only have been for a short time and picking my way through the people already there, I thought I'd collect my gear from under the barrier and make my way up to the balcony at the back and take some shots from up there and get some shots with the crowd and band. Now unfortunately or fortunately depending on your viewpoint. I missed the main incident. I know what a numpty. Sorry Sean. As a photographer you are meant to be there to capture these moments. Part of me wishes I had stayed where I was and normally if the 3 song rule had applied I would have been amongst it and all over youtube now. Then another part of me thinks I was lucky not to get dragged into that situation. Looking back I think I missed it all by no more than 30 seconds.
I set off walking through the crowd to take up my new position. The first I knew something was amiss when the band stopped and the lights came up and as I turned round I saw the drummer lashing out. Like everyone else I have seen a lot of the videos and comments regarding the incident but as of yet nothing showing the mishandling of the crowd surfer which ignited the whole thing. Hopefully something will become available to show the flash point. If there is some mistreatment at the hands of the security then I hope that they get the book thrown at them as we dont need people like that acting as security. I'm guessing something must have kicked off for the bass player to react like he did. I also get the fact that when the bass player gets caught up in the fracas the rest of the band and their team etc got involved. Being in a band and on tour it's like a family and we've all been there when someone kicks off and you all rally round. You can also appreciate that security are going to try and protect themselves and who would fault them.
However, I think the band should have stopped and made their feelings known. They have the mics and have a better view than anyone else. Stop the show, call the individual out who's being heavy handed. Calm it all down and carry on. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The fans do need a mention however. They hung around for a long time hoping the show would continue and even sang their own rendition of songs. The bands statement also suggests that they should have handled the situation better and I applaud them for that. I for one will not stop attending gigs at Rock City but I hope that if it is proven that some of their staff were heavy handed that they take appropriate action. You don't host Rock concerts for as long as they have without knowing what you are doing and I've previuosly never had any problems.
I would also like to wish the Neck Deep boys all the best for the rest of their tour and hopefully one day see them doing their thing and if possible get chance to shoot them again. Maybe for a bit longer next time ;)
Neck Deep - https://www.facebook.com/neckdeepuk/
As It Is - https://www.facebook.com/asitisofficial/
Real Friends - https://www.facebook.com/realfriendsband/
Review & Photos - Bandshotz