By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"It's a fact that a lot of Deadheads go to the show with some form of psychedelic experience in mind," local Deadhead Tony Victor confirms. "That's part of it."
If the local fuzz considered Paul McCartney a good draw for pot-sucking rubberheads, they must be doing the Pee-wee dance over the perpetrator possibilities of the Arizona Dead shows. The Maricopa County Demand Reduction Task Force, a notorious squad of undercover narcs, made a splashy event out of busting thirty-some woeful tokers at Paul's Sun Devil Stadium concert last spring.
Even with elimination of the preshow bender and its accompanying temptations (bong-a-thons, microdot lickoffs, vegetarian stir-fry eating) there is reason for Deadheads to fear some trouble from the Man. For sure, a high-profile drug sweep of a standard Deadhead confab would make for stirring footage on the TV news. It's happened here before. As an additional hospitality gesture to visiting Deadheads, here's a rundown of the security measures planned for the weekend. The more paranoid among you will no doubt take some of this info with a grain of Spike. Good for you. Compton Terrace is located on the Gila River Indian Reservation, which is federal land policed by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and local tribal police. Law enforcement for concerts usually comprises a few tribal cops and a small army of private security guards. The tribe's police officers usually have their hands full directing traffic. Compton Terrace, located just off I-10 next to the Firebird Lake speedboat-racing facility, is notoriously difficult to get to--especially when there are 21,999 fellow stonies trying to get there with you. "Primarily what we're concerned about is the flow of traffic, making sure everybody comes in safely and goes out in a safe manner," says Richard Armstrong, a supervisor and criminal investigator for the Bureau of Indian Affairs-Pima agency. "We also provide the reporting service for vehicles that have accidents and thefts that occur within the parking lot. As far as the concert is concerned . . . we're not really expecting any problems because it's a daytime concert."
Armstrong says he has scheduled only thirteen officers for each show. John Reese, president of V.I.P. Event Services, will supplement that force with more than 240 beefy troops of his own. They will be your typical crowd-control dudes in tight tee shirts, muscular but for the most part mellow. The real Pothead Patrol, if one should materialize, will operate under the command of Jim Watson, a lieutenant with the Phoenix Police Department. He oversees the crimebusters from the Maricopa County's mean 'n' clean drug-fighting machine--you know, the goons who crashed the McCartney show. Technically speaking, Watson has no jurisdiction over the reservation. "The only way we could be involved in an incident at Compton Terrace is if we were to be invited by Indian police," says Watson. "You could be 100 percent sure that we're not gonna have any operation at Compton Terrace, unless there's an invitation."
Inquiring Deadheads want to know, Lieutenant: Have you received any such invitations? "I personally am not aware of any."
Would you tell us if you had? No, he says.
So be cool, you Deadheads! "It's kinda like easy pickin's for the police, if they want to bother Deadheads," says Deadhead Tony Victor. "I sure hope that they realize that allowing it to happen the way it's happened for 25 years is a lot better than going in there and making ridiculous, petty busts."
Crowd-control scene setters at Compton Terrace certainly aren't expecting any trouble. "It's a fun-loving crowd," says security boss Reese, speaking of the Deadheads. "If somebody gets sick or hurt, they all try to help each other. As far as the crowd is concerned, it's one of the easiest crowds to work, because they care about each other. It's not like a Motley Crue or a Guns n' Roses crowd. If they get pissed off, they beat the hell out of each other."
Ironically enough, the ban on the Deadhead bazaar apparently comes as a great disappointment to officials at the amphitheatre, who happily marked off five acres of ground for preshow campers and venders before the Dead concert three years ago. When final word came down on this weekend's battle plan (it came early last week, via a conference call among reps from the band, the promoters, the venue and the security company), Compton Terrace had to cancel an order of portable toilets made in preparation for the parking-lot preliminaries. Also killed were plans to provide the thirsty Deadhead throng with preshow water. "It's probably the easiest crowd of concertgoers that there is," confirms Bob Heiser, Compton Terrace general manager. "Compton Terrace loves to have 'em. They just do their own little thing. They go out and smoke their little pot and dance around and have a good time."
"It's not like a Motley Crue or a Guns n' Roses crowd. If they get pissed off, they beat the hell out of each other."
"It's a fact that a lot of Deadheads go to the show with some form of psychedelic experience in mind," a local Deadhead confirms.
Trailing scraps of tie-dyed fabric, energy crystals and reefer nubs, Deadheads travel far and wide to follow their beloved combo.