When Is Shutting Down a Concert Worth the Hassle?

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For those of you who haven't heard, Saturday night's Bruce Springsteen show at the Hard Rock Calling festival in London's Hyde Park was pretty damn epic. It's not every day where you get see living legends jam, yet that's what happened. Not only did John Fogerty and Tom Morello join the E-Street Band, but the one and only Paul McCartney jumped in for versions of “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Twist And Shout.” However, by the middle of the second song, fearful of the potential ramifications, concert promoter Live Nation heard enough and pulled the plug on the legendary jam session, which was 25 minutes over the set's scheduled end time.


Everyone from annoyed fans to E-Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt cursed the decision for being, well, a sissy move. London's mayor Boris Johnson criticized the promoter's decision–which was pre-determined by the Westminister's Council–during a London radio interview on Sunday. “It sounds to me like an excessively efficacious decision. You won't get that during the Olympics,” he said. “If they'd have called me, my answer would have been for them to jam in the name of the Lord.”

In response, Live Nation released the following statement:

“Last night everyone had a fantastic time, in the excellent weather conditions, with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band giving a record-breaking 76,000 people an incredible performance of 29 songs with special guests John Fogerty, Tom Morello & Paul McCartney joining him onstage.

It was unfortunate that the three-hour plus performance by Bruce Springsteen was stopped right at the very end but the curfew is laid down by the authorities in the interest of the public's health and safety.

Road closures around Hard Park are put in place at specific times to make sure everyone can exit the area in a safety.”

This incident begs the question: What could this kind of curfew clampdown mean for our outdoor shows? As we know, there are plenty of venues in Orange County that have airtight curfews due to their locale, think the Pacific Amphitheater for starters, that need to cater to noise curfews. That's fine and dandy and I'm not one for fucking with neighborhood's sovereignty, but if you live near an outdoor music venue, isn't hearing music and dealing with the crowd part of the deal? I mean, if you live near a fraternity house, you wouldn't expect to hear crickets at midnight on a Saturday.

With Doheny Days, the U.S. Open of Surfing and a host of other concerts upcoming, it  what's going to happen if one of the bands play over their allotted time? Would it be better to pull the plug, like in London, and follow the letter of the law, or risk pissing off tens of thousands of people who would be more dangerous than a group of neighborhood watchdogs?

In a few short weeks, we'll know what happens, but it's something that people need to think about, even if the answer isn't an easy one. Hopefully with the events of this past weekend crystallized, local officials will make the right decision, which may not stick to the letter of the law.

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Daniel Kohn is a writer based in Southern California. With bylines in an assortment of outlets, Kohn primarily specializes in music with other interests ranging from sports to food. As a transplant, Kohn loves the beautiful weather and is glad he no longer has to deal with brutal winters. If you see him, say hi and of course, he’s always willing to down a beer or two…if you’re paying.

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