An altercation involving moshers, bouncers, and the Tempe Police Department may be headed to court.
If you follow the local metal scene, you may have heard about an incident at Tempe's Club Red involving Mesa metal act Rising Pain, who were opening for Dutch death-metal outfit Pestilence. After bouncers tossed a bunch of concertgoers for moshing -- something their insurance doesn't allow -- several people started moshing on the sidewalk outside. The police were summoned, and witnesses say a brutal scene unfolded between police and local metalheads.
A days-old public records request for documents regarding the incident has not yet been filled by Tempe PD.
So what happened?
"During Pestilence's set a small (maybe 10 people) mosh pit broke out. Security proceeded to grab people by the throat and throw them out, including two girls who now have bruises all over their body. I went outside to see what happened since my brother was in the pit! As a result, I got thrown out too. The violence shown by security was not called for!"
Unfortunately, the friction with the bouncers -- the club's owner, Kim Commons, says he has investigated the matter thoroughly and strongly denies any wrongdoing by the bouncers -- was just the first phase in a total shitshow. According to Racines, the night ended in the hospital for one member of his band, who intends to take the matter to court.
"Eventually the police [were] called, and it all went down hill from there. The two girls that were hurt were trying to explain to the police what the security guards did to them but the police would not listen and just told them to leave! After persisting they got thrown to the ground and handcuffed! After that, the police went after my brother, our singer Justin was slammed to the ground by cops! They kept yelling stop resisting, but he was doing anything but. They broke all the ligaments in his arm and was [taken] to jail where they didn't provide any medical attention even though he kept telling them he thought his arm was broken.
"Our drummer Andy was trying to take video with his phone of the way Justin was being treated and he got put in a choke hold and slammed into the ground! It was like watching a UFC match! Unreal. I was about 100 feet from the club, I walked back there to ask a cop where I could pick my brother up or find out what was going on [and] as soon as I tried to ask the officer, I was handcuffed and arrested. My whole band was arrested for nothing!"
As a result of his injuries, Justin Bredvig has hired an attorney. The band doesn't want to speak more about the incident until his case works itself out.
There is a third-party witness who backs up allegations of police brutality. Angela Newman, who works at Tobacco & Pipes Plus, the smokeshop next door, says security wasn't out of line -- it was a back-and-forth with the moshers and appeared to her to be "50/50" situation.
The Tempe PD, on the other hand, seemed to be overly aggressive, she says. After the concertgoers got tossed, they didn't leave right away, she says, and when the police pulled up, they took it as a sign to continue moshing.
"People were like 'The cops are here, let's mosh,' and they started to do whatever and, like, the cops got real crazy though, on some of the people," she says. "A lot of it I just thought was not right on the cops part, because, like, even the girl I saw they grabbed her arm and put it behind her back really high and she was just trying to tell him to calm down on her boyfriend because he was being real aggressive with him and he was already on the floor, and so he just grabbed her and put her arm behind her and was going really high and she was like, 'Stop, you're hurting me, you're hurting me!' and he wouldn't stop so with her other hand she grabbed her mace and maced him and hit him in the face, which I applaud her for because he shouldn't have been grabbing her like that.
"A lot of stuff went down, on both parts, but, really, the cops were being super rough with a lot of the people. It was just not necessary," she says, noting that a paddy-wagon then came. "The cops were slamming people on our window. The next morning I came to work and I had to clean off face-prints."
Commons, the owner of Club Red, says his bar would like to allow moshing at metal shows but can't afford the sky-high insurance premiums necessary. So, he says, the club has no choice but to stop concertgoers from banging into each other.
To do that, he says, Club Red has a warning process: Signs say the practice is prohibited, and TVs flash notices when security sees contact between concertgoers. Then, come verbal warnings before patrons are ejected.
Commons, who was not at the show but has interviewed his staff and observers, says the ejections "went as scheduled, and there was no physical violence at all inside the club."
When the concertgoers didn't disperse, police were called, he says, because at that point, they were trespassing.
"I've been told that until the police arrived, everything was pretty straightforward," he says. "People didn't like being ejected, they wanted to mosh, but... It's frustrating because we hate ejecting people. It's not something we like to do. People don't want to come back if they're angry at the club."
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"Obviously, live-music venues depend on the goodwill of bands. That's our primary customer because bands bring in the fans. Obviously, when a band gets arrested, or the better part of a band plus fans, it's killing both parts of what our business is... So when the police arrived, we quite frankly expected everyone to go in their cars -- actually, we expected them to go to another bar and complain about how they couldn't mosh at Club Red. That's usually what happens. We find out later that they all ended up at Stray Cat or Big Fish or something like that, and we hear about how much booze they bought and how we missed out on it, which is frustrating, but that's usually what we expect to happen. People go in a pack to a different bar and drink there and we lose that money but, on the other hand, we still have insurance."
Going forward, Commons says he'll again look into getting mosh insurance, though it's a longshot, budget-wise. Meantime, he plans to keep his club's calender one of the most diverse in the Valley.
Whether metalheads are willing to go along mosh-less remains to be seen, but here's hoping they give serious consideration to the alternative.