So a few of you have heard by now that there was a pretty major altercation between members of Arkham (Jack, Charlie and Myself) and the security staff of the Penny Road Pub and I think it would be beneficial to discuss exactly what went on, as it has ramifications for the safety of our scene. Obviously there are two sides to every story, this one being no different, but given the history of the security at this venue what we experienced seems to be something of a regular occurrence. Please note that this is just MY recollection of events, Jack and Charlie have their own stories.
We played our set and it was fantastic. There was good response from the crowd but I noticed that everyone was a bit…skittish. Kids seemed to be wanting to have a good time and get involved, be it moshing or stage diving but were very subdued by a strong security presence, but nothing seemed to get out of hand. If kids started to mosh, they’d get stopped, which is shitty but at least from where I was standing security wasn’t actively hurting anybody. We finish and I head back to merch and do my thing. Next band sets up and starts playing.
The layout of the penny road Pub is that there is a small set of stairs (2 or 3) in the back that lead to another set of stairs that lead up to a lobby and then out of the building and to a hallway with a bathroom. We were set up by that small set of stairs.
The band after us starts playing and doing there thing, a few mosh pits open up, are shut down and it keeps going that way. Eventually I see a large security guard grab a guy (must’ve been in his early 20’s) and start escorting him towards the back towards the stairs, likely to leave. Later we find out that the person being escorted out is pretty drunk. Like many drunk people, he doesn’t exactly have the best balance. He falls on the small stairs and security roughly picks him back up.
From this point on we will be referring to the drunk guy as Sean. Also please keep in mind that every security guard that we deal with is at least 250+ pounds and in their early to mid 30’s. Jack, Charlie and Myself weigh between 150-170 lbs (depending if it’s a gym day) and range from 20-21. Sean is of the same build, age.
At this point Jack was either coming back from the bathroom or outside and starts to head down the small stairs where the security guard and Sean are (the room is set up so that jack can’t see them, and they can’t see him). The security guy, visibly frustrated, shoves the guy into Jack knocking him back, Sean falls down again. The security guy, now angry gets on top of Sean and starts punching him while trying to get him up. Jack, having regained his balance sees what’s going on and tries to break this up and help Sean. Security guy decides to focus on Jack and throws Jack against the wall of the hallway leading to stairs/bathrooms, pinning him.
This is when I become involved, I run from merch to try and protect Jack and hopefully break up what is quickly escalating into a fight. I get between Jack and the Security guard trying to break it up. Apparently Charlie was standing in that hallway because I notice that he is next to me also trying to keep this security guard away from Jack. This security guard manages to throw a few punches at Jack.
Charlie and I manage to break up Jack and the Security guard. At some point during the scuffle 3 more security guards show up, one taking care of Sean and the other two coming over to deal with me, Charlie and Jack. One of the security guards is wearing a hat, and I guess he’s in charge. The exchange goes something like this.
Hat Guy (yelling): What the fuck is going on
Me: You’ve got a guard swinging on kids
Hat Guy(more yelling): I don’t give a fuck, you guys [Charlie, Jack, Myself] are out of here
Me: We’re playing playing a show tonight, we’re not going anywhere
Hat Guy (Still Yelling): If you don’t leave I’ll call the cops
Me: Then call the cops (note: I said this sincerely, hoping that maybe police presence would calm them down a little bit, maybe hold them to a more professional standard)
At this, Hat Guy, who is probably 300 pounds and in his 40’s, shoves me hard into an adjacent wall. During this I smell alcohol on his breath. I see Jack start in on him, but grab Jack and he and I go upstairs. I figured if he’s shoving me over a conversation, there’s no way this can be resolved.
I head upstairs with Jack to the lobby and we are forced outside by security into single digit weather wearing only T-Shirts while a couple thousand dollars worth of merch, equipment and computers are left behind. At this point I notice Charlie isn’t with us, I figure that maybe he was better at persuading the guards and is with our stuff. Sean is out there with us too. After a minute or so of waiting around Jack goes back inside and downstairs, I wait outside.
30 seconds later Jack and Charlie are thrown out into the lobby, with 4 large security guards throwing punches at them. This had escalated into a full scale brawl. I try to run in and help but they are pinned between the door and me. Jack is knocked down and the larges bouncer continues punching and hitting him. The booker, George Medic, sees what is going on and runs to protect Jack, taking many punches. George would later remark that “that guy was still trying to get in hits any way he could.” At this point you have 4-5 250+ pound security guards brawling with 2 150 pound dudes (or for those of you bad at math, 2-3 bouncers throwing punches at each dude), with the promoter trying to stop it.
Luckily George manages to absorb enough blows/stop the commotion to get Jack and Charlie outside with me and stands in front of the doors. The security guards stay inside, and continue to mock us through the windows. Jack’s nose is bleeding pretty bad at this point. Charlie’s face is swollen.
A few minutes later a couple of the kids we know who were by our merch bring out some of our merch bins, thinking it’s over. George tells them to leave them down there and that this will get settled, but thankfully they brought our coats. George suggests that we head back to our van and let it cool down, he will then come get us. and we can load out/do merch. We agree this is wise and head back to our van.
A few minutes later our friend Jamie walks out, looking very shaken. I had figured she had missed the incident. She gets into the van and proceeds to tell us that the security guards had screamed at her when she tried to bring us our merch, called her a bitch, and then put hands on her to physically remove her from the premise. Jamie is 17 years old and in High School. I guess this is the part that really bothers me, because it’s one thing to rumble with a couple of college dudes, it’s another to verbally harass and touch a young girl.
After maybe 20 minutes, I go back in and set merch up again and finish out the night. During unloading I hear these security guards boasting about how they “kicked some rowdy kids’ ass tonight”.
To some extent I was ready to just kind of let this go. I understand that dudes get heated, and when adrenaline and testosterone get pumping it’s hard to discern what is going on. If they had come up to us afterwards and said “hey, that was fucked up, we’re sorry” I’d be inclined to just leave it in the past (Jack feels differently, but hey, he got gang beat while he was down, so I don’t blame him). Their very loud boasts and taunts just kinda went to show that these weren’t guys just doing their jobs who were put in a shitty situation, these guys were pricks who think there job entitles them to fight kids. This is not the only story like this, there are hundreds of similar stories of large bouncers ganging up on physically smaller kids.
Charlie’s Mom, after seeing a post about it on facebook, called the venue owner to complain. He replied with “you have to understand these are violent, dangerous kids and the bouncers have to do everything to protect themselves” which when you think about it is really fucked up. Is he so out of touch with the fans of the shows he puts on every weekend that he truly believes we are dangerous thugs? And if we are such a dangerous bunch, and he such a moral upstanding individual, don’t you think he’d have more of a problem taking your money? And for the record, none of the kids you fought tonight are “violent, dangerous kids”. None of us have violent criminal pasts. I think between Charlie and Myself you could count the fights we’ve been in on one hand. We all volunteer regularly. Charlie and Jack consistently make the Dean’s list at DePaul. Jack participates in lots of non-violent protests across the city. We’ve consistently stopped shows when fights break out. The only people in this conversation with histories of violence are the people you employ.
Special note and praise should be given to the promoter, George Medic, who handled this beautifully. I can’t think of many people with the courage to take punches for a kid in a situation that doesn’t involve them. George also doesn’t employ the security, so the fault does not lie with him. George deserves all commendation during this.
So what’s the solution? I’ve heard some people talking about going to another show there and fighting the security as retribution. PLEASE DO NOT DO THAT. Violence only begets violence, it solves nothing. There were probably 15 or more security guards there tonight, many of whom were just making their paycheck, and even if by luck you manage to pick the right red shirt, you’re just promoting a cycle of violence.
My solution is simple. Don’t give them your money until their security situation is resolved. Don’t pay for shows there, don’t have your band play shows there, simple as that. If you’re invited to a show online that you want to go to that is at penny road, make it known you would attend if it were at another venue.
Oh and if you are as outraged by this bullshit as we are, be sure to leave lots of love on the Penny Road facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PennyRoadPub
). I’m sure that the manager would love to hear your concerns, he can be reached at ((847) 428-0562), just ask to speak with him.
Thank you to everyone who supported the show tonight, to all the amazing bands that we got to play with, to all the amazing fans that supported us. That is what I am going to choose to remember about tonight.