Now, I've been to a ton of shows at the Metro, and I've seen Alkaline Trio at least six times. I know the standard routine for an Alk3 show, and I know the shows can get hectic in front of the hometown crowd. I also know that the Metro tends to get a little rowdy for sold out shows due to its relatively small size.
What I also know is that you don't ever want to hassle or harass your patronage, because they pay you money. Apparently, the Metro didn't receive the memo.
Two specific occurrences at last night's show left me with a very, very sour taste in my mouth. Neither one reflects well on Metro management. Listen guys: I understand that it takes a lot to manage a bunch of rowdy, drunken people, and you have to look out for the well-being of your patrons. But, Metro staff and management, this is the risk your patrons take coming to see a show. This is the risk you take as a venue that hosts live music. Turning the screws so tight on security that you are literally offending your patrons is not the way to do business.
I grab a ride with a co-worker following work and stop for a few drinks at a bar a couple doors down from the Metro. I have three drinks, am extremely tired and haven't eaten dinner, so I've got a bit of a buzz on -- but I am coherent and calm and wouldn't describe myself as reaching an inappropriate level of intoxication. Far from it, in fact.
As I saunter by the security at the front door, one of the guards pulls me aside. This burly, threatening-looking guard asks me if I've been drinking; I answer honestly that I've had a few beers, and I haven't had much to eat today. But I demonstrate to him that I'm not intoxicated by clearly and coherently explaining my case. He tells me that I'm too drunk and have to go get something to eat.
"But I'm not hungry," I protest.
"I don't give a shit. If you don't get something to eat, I'm not letting you in." I argue with him for about ten minutes, and he calls another threatening guard over to explain the exact same thing to me. This guard touts the fact that they are "trained at detecting intoxication," which is great -- except for the fact that I'm not intoxicated. Good for you, asshole. Did you sleep through your training classes? Did you have to get your GED before you could confidently judge someone's intoxication level?
I head across the street, grab a hot-dog, walk past a girl crying hysterically on the phone (she had apparently been kicked out of the show), and eat the hot-dog in front of the guards, who finally let me in. Thank god.
Fast-forward ten minutes: standing at the bar next to my buddy Jim and some other friends when my friend Joel from college appears out of nowhere. The three of us chat for a bit. In the middle of our conversation, a woman shoves Joel out of the way so she can get to the bar. Joel is standing next to a step and nearly topples over, spilling his and other people's beers. Not too big of a deal; this is a concert, right? Still, there wasn't a band onstage, and we weren't standing in a very crowded area. This girl simply could have asked Joel if she could get through.
Jim, a loyal friend with, admittedly, a volume control problem, makes a slightly inappropriate but non-threatening comment about the girl who shoved Joel. The bartender overhears the comment and stares daggers at Jim.
Now, I'm not defending Jim's comment, but when you or a friend get run down and spill your beer for no reason at all, you feel the need to say something. The only thing you can blame Jim for is lacking a little tact. Again, this is a concert, right? Apparently not.
I disappear to the ATM and when I get back, Jim is nowhere to be seen. He texts me to tell me he got thrown out for making "sexually threatening" suggestions to the bartender. One offhand, non-threatening comment. His cousin was also tossed...for doing nothing except being next to Jim when the incident occurred. On top of all that, turns out the girl who ran down Joel was a Metro waitress! So, the Metro was responsible for running one customer over, spilling the beer he paid them for, and kicking another customer out of the show that, again, he paid for...because he was defending his friend.
At this point, you might be asking yourself, "Why?" So was I.
The most I could get out of the bartender was that the staff recently attended some state-mandated classes -- although it's hard for me to believe that the state mandates you treat your customers like shit.
The real endgame here is simple: Metro, if you can't handle the strain of hosting live music, close your doors. I've had some amazing times at your venue, and I've seen some equally amazing bands. But this is Chicago, and there are hundreds of venues in this city. If you need to change security, find a better way to do it.
And please, for the love of god...people are spending money at your establishment! Your customers are paying a large lump sum to walk through your doors. Then, they are paying ridiculous prices for alcohol! If you're going to kick people out for stupid reasons, at least refund them their money. How bad is this going to get, anyway? Are you going to start selling tickets, pulling the fire alarm as soon as people are inside the venue, and then locking the doors so they can't get back in? Are you going to sell tickets to shows without actually booking the bands on the bill? Are you going to put SEATS on the floor and host classical music groups??? Where does it end?
Anyway, if Metro management, ownership or staff members read this, please know that I will not review any other shows at your establishment, and I will only attend another show at the Metro once in a blue moon. I know I'm just a small time blogger, but I've got a lot of friends who are going to find out about this. Word spreads. Shitty customer service will not build your customer base. Not now, not ever.
You've just earned yourself a spot on my "shitty Chicago venues" list, right next to the Aragon, and unless you guys start shaping up, there is where you'll stay.