I wish I could tell you that the crappiest part of last Friday’s Lit concert at the House of Blues Anaheim was actually Lit. That probably wouldn’t shock too many people, especially coming from our infernal rag. In case you were wondering, yes, they did suck. That’s not even our opinion—singer A.Jay Popoff apologetically told the packed crowd this as he promised the band would get their shit together and come back soon after the conclusion of their national Summerland Tour.
But the real shitty story last Friday was the security who booted us out of the packed show before things even got a chance to get mediocre.
Not only did we get 86’ed from the Mouse House, photographer Richard Johnson (aka Dick Slaughter) and I got the cops called on us and had a small mob of Downtown Disney security follow us all the way back to our car. On the surface this probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. A local music journalist (sorry, AWARD-WINNING local music journalist) gets kicked out of a show for trying to report on a concert. But given the shit show that transpired last Friday (again, we’re not referring to Lit...but, kinda) it makes total sense.
Let’s back up.
For those of you who don’t know/don’t care, the House of Blues Anaheim location in the bowels of Downtown Disney is officially closed. Memorial Day weekend was the venue’s last hurrah before it moves to the other side of Harbor to the Anaheim Gardenwalk. For 15 years, the Downtown Disney location brought all kinds of acts to Orange County that would’ve definitely otherwise sailed right over us prior to the Observatory.
It had a storied history full of local breakout bands, iconic blues legends, B.B. King, jambalaya dinner specials, yadda, yadda, yadda.
The local boys of Lit were the first ones to play the venue in 2001 with two back-to-back shows. So before the venue closed, they returned to play one last time because— symbolism, y’all.
Lit had barely started their set as Johnson and I proceeded up to the second floor of the club just after 10 p.m. Say what you will about the band’s music, but the show was packed. It was clear that it would be a whole lot easier for us to grab seats in the loge and get photos from there. Our tickets and media badges were confirmed by the press rep for the venue's concert promoter, Live Nation. I was told that these were supposed to give us access to the loge seating (which was not full when we got there).
We walked to the left side loge entrance and a staff member in front of the roped off area let us through when she saw our media badges. But within two seconds, a guy who appeared to be head of security—a short Latino dude with a flashlight and a shoulder radio—stopped us and told us we had to leave. I told him we were with the Weekly and that we were covering the show. He told us that the badges we had were worthless and they wouldn’t get us in anywhere. The same thing happened when we tried to ask guards on the left side of the loge to get in. The same security guy ran over to us and yelled at my photographer to “get the hell out of here!” I stepped between them and explained once again that we were reporters assigned access to cover the show and to “check his tone” when speaking to us.
“I’m not gonna check my tone! I have a venue to run here!” he said. At this point he hadn’t made a single attempt to ask me for a business card to verify my claim, or get hospitality personnel over to us to figure out the situation. Instead he just came off like a meathead with a Napoleon complex.
Once it was clear we would only be able to watch the show through the venue’s shitty, second floor TV screens, Johnson and I thought doing some people-watching on the outside bar patio was a better use of our time. Candid shots and scenes from the crowd typically make up a good portion of our reviews. Between the tipsy, collagen-filled cougars, cowboy bros and former ‘90s cool kids whose best days ended with the Clinton administration, it ended up being a lot more interesting than the show.
While we stood on the patio, the security guard who yelled at us somehow managed to make time in his hectic "venue-running" schedule to walk out to the patio and monitor us along with another female HOB staffer. I thought he had better things to do than be bothered with us. Guess I was wrong.
Several minutes later, there was a situation near us involving some big guy getting tossed out of VIP. He had about seven security guards surrounding him trying to usher him out of the building. When it started to become a scene, Johnson raised his camera like he was going to take a photo. You can bet that’s when the head security guard really got lit (sorry, had to). “You guys gotta get outta here! Out now! You were supposed to be reviewing the show and now you’re out here taking pictures of other things.”
Of course it would’ve been nice to review the show if he’d let us do so in the first place.
The head security guard got a few of his cronies to stand by him and asked us to leave. We were met by another guard outside the venue who asked to take our media badges (remember, the ones that weren’t worth a shit?) and then one of the guards started the laughable process of tailing us on foot back to our car.
We decided to momentarily split up and trailed off casually in different directions. That little gag definitely pissed him off and he threatened to call in PD, which we told him was fine by us. This led to several bicycle officers being called in along with every geriatric Disney greeter they could find. The silent horde of rent-a-cop zombies with blinking bike flashers and reflective vests trailed us to the farthest corner of the parking lot back to my car, about a half mile from the venue.
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It wasn’t until we were about to get in my ride that one of the security guards who looked like he just graduated high school asked us if we were okay to drive. Luckily the shitty $9 Jack and Coke I’d consumed earlier had about a teardrop’s worth of booze in it so I assured him I was fine.
As I started the car to drive off, I contemplated showing them my gratitude for their concern by blasting “Fuck the Police” as I sped away. But then again, wasting this jam on them would be an insult to real police.
It’s a shame that my last memory of the House of Blues Anaheim was being kicked out. But I have to say it made the night a lot more interesting. And from what I’m told by others who attended the show, I wasn’t the only one this happened to on Friday, apparently people were getting thrown out left and right. Sure, I get it—drunk assholes go to concerts and cause problems and deserve to be bounced. But when you do that to a journalist who is assigned to cover a show at your venue, don’t be surprised when your douchebaggery gets exposed. To the security guard who made me go out of my way to write this: All you had to do was not be an asshole and use your brain. But I guess when it comes to not sucking at your job, you are your own worst enemy.