Monday, June 23, 2014

Luke Bryan’s Great Show Overshadowed by Trashtalk

Trashgate 2014: Oh, the Humanity! 

This is what the stadium looked like BEFORE the tailgaters filled the stadium

On June 21, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice and Cole Swindell rolled into town looking to party —and party they did, delivering a rippingly entertaining evening of music to a record-breaking crowd of happy fans. This was Bryan’s first stadium show as a headliner, and as such promised to be something memorable: what would he do, given the enormity of the venue and occasion?

Luke Bryan with rally cap on

Rise up out of the ground astride a stuck? Punctuate hit songs with fire works? Invite each one of his opening acts onstage for a special duet? Yes to all of the above. As far as The Inky Jukebox is concerned, pretty much every one of the 53,000 fans had an awesome time. Did a few get drunk? Why yes they did. Had many been holding their own parking lot parties all day? Why yes they had.

Luke Bryan doing a little drinking of his own

The only thing you’ll hear or read about the concert is the furor generated by the trash left in the pre-paid lots in a city still reeling, apparently, with high dudgeon over last year’s Kenny Chesney show. The trash, however, is not what should be causing outrage here: it’s the complete loss of journalistic integrity and ignorant bandwagon-jumping by people who ought to know better and who weren’t there.

Lee Brice, Mr. "Parking Lot Party"

The Inky Jukebox is appalled to find that some of her fellow Pittsburghers and online friends of friends have gone so far (into their own sense of moral outrage) to call for a ban on drinking and concerts in the city, a special tax on anyone entering the city, and for country music fans to leave town. Can you HEAR yourselves, y’all? Seriously? The only shit that needs to stop RIGHT NOW is this nonsense.

Dierks Bentley, Mr. "Drunk on a Plane"

Here is a list of considerations the Trash-Talkers have failed to educate themselves about concerning this concert.

The notion that plenty of concerts are held at Heinz Field (home of the Steelers), and only country music fans desecrate the parking lots.

Actually, Heinz Field has only seen five concerts in the past three years: Kenny Chesney (twice); Taylor Swift (twice); and Luke Bryan. As far as The Inky Jukebox can tell, all of these acts are Country. I don't recall people complaining about Taylor Swift tailgaters. 

Only people not from Pittsburgh attend these shows. Only people from Pittsburgh attend these shows. No Steelers fans attend these shows.

All three are dead wrong. The summer shows at Heinz Field attract an enormous fan base for country music that stretches from Philadelphia to Columbus, Cleveland and down to West Virginia. Not all stadium acts perform at other venues. The crowd consists of people who have driven a LONG way to be here; sailed up and down river to be here, and include a large proportion of Steelers fans. Many of these fans appreciated the tribute to the late Chuck Noll that Bryan thoughtfully included in his show.

This was a run-of-the-mill show.

No it wasn’t: it’s the only show at Heinz field this year (Chesney and Swift aren’t touring, and it was the biggest-ever crowd Heinz Field has EVER had for a concert. It was also Luke Bryan’s first EVER stadium show, and therefore of some historic significance that drew an unusually large crowd from far afield.

All the parking lots in downtown Pittsburgh and which service the stadium were completely trashed by reckless, irresponsible rednecks.

Not so. Only the PRE-PAID stadium lots had a trash problem; they were the lots designated for TAILGATING, a great American tradition engaged in not only by country fans, but by concert-goers and sports fans EVERYWHERE, including STEELERS FANS AND PANTHER FANS AT HEINZ FIELD IN THE FOOTBALL SEASON. In order to manage the inflow of traffic from 53,000 people in a city with Pittsburgh’s topography, it makes sense to designate parking lots for those who are coming from afar and who pay for the privilege of parking in advance with their ticket. These lots open at 9AM, and come with rules which fans are made aware of. They include directions about trash collection, and specifically close in time to allow workers to begin trash clean-up during the show. Parkers are not only invited and expected to tailgate, but they are told that the parking lot authorities will be cleaning up.

Concert-goers have no idea what to do with their trash, so, not caring, they leave it everywhere.

Pre-paid Lot parkers are given two garbage bags when they enter the Lot: one for recyclables, and one for garbage. These they leave by their vehicle when they enter the show, so that the crew can take them away. However, the crew have nowhere to put them, because dumpsters – or enough dumpsters - have not been provided. Therefore, they pile up near the exits. When cars leave, they run over bags, splitting them, and scattering trash.

Concert-goers are riotous drunken rednecks who should not be allowed near a civilized city.

Tailgaters are there to party. They grill food; they drink beers; they play games. They listen to music. They have fun. This is what tailgaters of every stripe do. The tailgaters at Luke Bryan’s show (and Kenny Chesney’s shows) have been there since 9AM when the Lots open, partying. By the time they have to leave the Lot at 8PM, they have been at it for 11 straight hours. People generate a lot of trash in confined spaces over 11 hours. They drink a lot of beer.

Country music fans urinate everywhere like pigs.

If you have been drinking beer for 11 hours, wouldn’t you have to pee? Even if you’d only had one beer, or a glass of lemonade, or even water — over the course of 11 hours, wouldn’t you have to pee? No matter how old you were, wouldn’t you have to pee? And where would you go? The Lot authorities didn’t provide enough port-a-johns to service 53,000 people. That’s a fact. Lines were long and the average wait was 45 minutes. Hold it for 45 minutes and tell me you wouldn’t pee wherever you could. Ten arrests were made for public urination. Only ten!!!!

Drunken country music fans got fisty.

True, several fans got into fights. Hey; they’d been drinking. The same can be said of any football game on any given weekend.

Why didn’t these hooligans transport their own trash home with them?

There is no room in the trunk for bags of trash after you’ve put the folding table and chairs in your trunk, and the cooler and the grill. Leaving sticky bags of liquid and food garbage in your locked car for several hours in the midsummer heat won’t make your car smell nice when you drive home.

Surely there is room in an RV for trash.

RVs weren’t allowed in the lots. Only passenger cars.

The Police were there to help.

There was a huge Police presence at the show. The Inky Jukebox spent an hour after it ended watching them stand around doing nothing to assist a horrible traffic situation caused by people trying to exit lots into the highway entrance lanes, causing gridlock. This caused people in trucks to circumvent the exits and drive over trash bags in the dark.

It was Luke Bryan’s fault.

Get real.

Dierks expresses how we all feel

Also bear in mind that, as the Mayor admitted, all of the lots were cleaned “spotless” by 10AM the next morning, by workers paid to do so. The stadium lots are not themselves in residential neighborhoods; who was inconvenienced? I am sure the tax-paying city workers who earned overtime were glad to make a bit of cash. I am sure the City itself was glad of the fee it charged the promoter to host the concert. I am sure Heinz Field vendors made bank. I am certain the bars and restaurants in the area all did smashing business. The Pittsburgh Parking Authority cashed in on all that downtown parking.

I know that no-one to whom this post is aimed will likely read it, but someone has to offer a counterpoint to the crazy-ass blown-out-of-proportion incendiary and utterly biased reporting (and posting, and re-posting) that’s going on out there. Get it together, Pittsburgh.

The End.


  1. THANK YOU for writing this! Well said. The pittsburgh news channels/reporters/ "investigators" could take a few pointers from your writing.

  2. Keep the hillbillies up at Jamboree in the hills.

  3. I was at the concert as I was hired to photograph the show. Of course there were drunks and a few fights. You can see that at almost any concert anywhere. There's no reason to ban concerts or tailgating. Like you said, everyone made money... And the lots were cleaned up by people that were paid to do so.
    I'm not a huge country fan, but I hope to be hired to shoot the next one

  4. Here are the photos Rich took. They are great!


Comments welcome, y'all