Moshing unwanted at this weekend's music street party

Friday, May 8, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Jammin' is in, but moshing is out for this weekend's downtown music festival.

Street closings

  • The following downtown streets will be closed from 6 p.m. today until 6 a.m. Sunday for Pepsi Jammin' on Main.

  • Central Parkway between Walnut and Sycamore streets.

  • Court Street between Walnut and Sycamore streets (Court Street between Walnut Street and Main Street will be open to traffic on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

  • Main Street between Ninth and 13th streets; 12th Street between Walnut and Main streets.

  • All on-street parking will be prohibited during the event. Metro buses will be rerouted. Riders should look for alternate stops.
  • For more information on the event, see today's Freetime section.

    Two years after the notorious moshing melee -- when crowd-surfing, aggressively dancing Seven Mary Three fans tore down bicycle-rack stage barriers and were dosed with pepper spray by police -- Pepsi Jammin' on Main is changing its reputation.

    With a different promoter and executive director since the year of the ruckus, sponsors are hoping for another riot-free year. "We're not booking any bands that encourage moshing," said Bob Elias, executive director of Cincinnati Arts Festival Inc., a non-profit group sponsoring the street party.

    The Nederlander Organization is promoting this year's concert with headliners Cheap Trick, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Lisa Loeb, Blessid Union of Souls and Gov't Mule.

    The first bands hit the stages at 7:15 tonight.

    Under perfect conditions, 20,000 fans are expected to jam downtown streets, centered at the intersection of Main Street and Central Parkway.

    But the weather could be the biggest crowd-control measure. Rain is in the forecast all weekend.

    In the wake of the 1996 clash between Jammin' fans and police, changes have been made, said Lt. Paul Humphries, commander of the Cincinnati Police Division's event planning unit.

    The former Jammin' promoter, Downie Productions, was criticized two years ago for using bicycle-rack barricades, which fans broke down in front of the stage. Those have been replaced with concert barricades.

    Band staging has been expanded so bottlenecks and scheduling conflicts won't be a problem. "We've got enough of a draw that you don't have a big crush," Lt. Humphries said.

    Beer sales are limited and will end at 11 p.m., 45 minutes before the event ends.

    Teens not accompanied by an adult will be subject to the city's teen curfew, which is 10 p.m. for teens 15 and younger and midnight for 16- and 17-year-olds.

    "We're not expecting problems this year," Lt. Humphries said.

    Paul Wertheimer, a safety consultant who founded Crowd Management Strategies in Chicago, said situations such as 1996's near-riot are sometimes what it takes to jolt planners into improving the way concerts are run.

    He was a public information officer for the city in December 1979, when 11 fans were killed in a crush of thousands trying to enter Riverfront Coliseum for a Who concert.

    "The No. 1 lesson is if you can plan appropriately, you can have these kinds of events," he said.

    "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to have a successful rock concert. There's no secret method that people have. You just have to care."

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