Well, the Rod Stewart concert went ahead.
By the time we got to the Hunter Valley the sun was shining and I had the roof down on the car. We visited my favourite Hunter winery – Allendale on Lovedale Road – to pick up some of my favourite semillon, then went and checked in to our hotel to join the rest of our party.
And still the sun shone on. So out came the gourmet picnic and champagne for a courtyard party in the motel with some new friends who were staying in the same place and also going to the concert.
A great time was had by all, when seemingly out of nowhere came thick black clouds, closely followed by heavy rain, lightning and thunder, then hail. I quickly put the Saab under the portico cover outside the reception area and got soaked running the short distance back to our verandah.
Of course, as it was close to concert time we all started the “will it or won’t it be on” routine. I checked the winery twitter account. Their last tweet was a couple of hours earlier about the magnificent sunshine. Naturally, I sent an urgent tweet asking about the concert venue and their plans, but didn’t get a response. There was nothing on their website either. They remained very quiet.
But then, miracle of miracles, the sun came out again and it was as if nothing had happened.
Buses were making their journeys taking revellers to the concert, so we all got ready, complete with gum boots, and off we went.
Despite all the restrictions we were determined to enjoy ourselves, even after getting there and finding that the reserved seating area took up 2/3 – ¾ of the amphitheatre, pushing the general admissions tickets right up the back. The set up at these winery concerts is the opposite of concert venues. The seated area is right in front of the stage with the general admission area behind. Sort of like having the mosh pit at the back.
And despite my earlier concerns about a week of rain, the ground had very good drainage. Some people were even sitting straight on it.
Having arrived a bit late (just before the second act), we found a spot to park ourselves about a third of the way back in the GA area, and to the left of the stage.
Diesel came on, and we danced a bit, sat and listened a bit, or sang along to those songs we knew. All was good.
Then – the moment we’d all been waiting for. Rockin’ Rod took to the stage and the crowd went wild. We, along with most of the people in the general admission area, got up and started dancing.
However the people behind us decided they didn’t want to stand up, even though it was a live rock concert and they were in the mosh pit. And if they wanted to sit, then everybody else between them and a full view of the stage had to sit as well.
It started with yelling “sit down in front”. Our defence of “This is the standing area, if you wanted to sit you should have bought tickets in the seated area” was not accepted. Nor was our “it’s a live rock concert, this is the mosh pit, get up and dance.”
So when we failed to comply with their directives, they started with personal abuse, coming right up and hissing and spitting into our faces. Then they grabbed onto a couple of security guards walking past to get them to tell us to sit down. The guards gave them a dumfounded look “This is the general admission area.” they said “They’re allowed to stand up.”
So having exhausted all other options, they started hurling missiles, including empty wine bottles and full glasses (plastic). Given that the queue to get a drink was quite long it must really have hurt them to lose a glass of wine!
This wasn’t just happening to us. People all around us were standing, and they were also subjected to the same treatment. Some were intimidated into sitting down, others were defiant. All were mightily pissed off.
So what should have been a very good concert – and Rod did put on a good show – was spoilt for a lot of people. Those who wanted to sit down didn’t enjoy themselves, nor did those standing up dancing and getting wine bottles thrown at them.
So Hope Estate – and anybody else putting on outdoor concerts – can I suggest a disclaimer with the tickets at the point of purchase? Something along the lines of “Standing up and dancing is permitted in the general admission area. If you want to remain seated during the concert please purchase tickets in the reserved seating area where standing is not permitted.”
Then maybe we can all enjoy ourselves.