VAIL — Spring Back to Vail concerts are supposed to be fun, a way to draw people to the mountain during the final days of the season. Crowds are usually pretty well-behaved. But the April 12 show by Sound Tribe Sector 9 was an exception to that rule.
Vail police made 11 “custody arrests” from Saturday evening through Sunday morning. “Custody arrests” involve handcuffs, a trip to the police station, fingerprinting and more. The people brought into the station were charged with offenses ranging from public urination to theft to disorderly conduct and trespassing. In one instance, a suspect is accused of kicking out a window on a town bus. Other concert-goers were seen wearing orange traffic cones as hats.
In addition, Vail police were called to three reports of drug overdoses. Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger said those overdoses all involved a form of horse tranquilizer.
While that’s rowdy for a Vail show, it pales in comparison to the 2012 Snow Ball show in Avon, at which 150 arrests were made over the three-day festival. And while the Vail Town Council’s meeting room was set up as a possible detox area — which is common for big events — it wasn’t used.
Henninger called the Saturday show “one of the more problematic concerts we’ve had in a number of years.”
A DIFFERENT CROWD
At Tuesday’s Vail Town Council work session, council members wanted some answers to just what had happened.
Council member Ludwig Kurz was particularly critical of the choice of bands for the Saturday show.
“I thought I was on the wrong planet,” Kurz said. “Just by driving by, you could see that this was not a crowd that we would like to have in Vail.”
Vail Police Sgt. Annette Dopplick was working at the concert Saturday. She said what she saw during the show confirmed Kurz’s assessment, at least in part.
“My observation was that a lot of people who came are not folks who normally come to Vail,” Dopplick said, adding that many people drove to the show, then left afterward. Dopplick said many of the people who came for the free concert didn’t know Vail well, and many weren’t prepared for winter weather.
While Spring Back shows target young Front Range residents — many who may be college students — at least some of the people who came Saturday may be fans who follow the band from show to show. Dopplick said many of the vehicles she saw were plastered with band stickers.
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
At the Tuesday afternoon session, Jeff Brausch, of Highline Entertainment, and Davey Ratchford, of Vail Resort, were called in to talk about the show.
Ratchford said more than once there’s a lot that can be learned from Saturday’s show.
“Every time we do a show we ask if it’s the right balance (between destination and drive-up crowds),” Ratchford said.
Most Spring Back concerts hit that balance to one degree or another. Council member Jenn Bruno said she was at the Friday show, which featured Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and said that band “hit the demographic.”
“There were a lot of (University of Colorado and Colorado State University) kids, and they were driving BMWs,” Bruno said. “They’re our future customers.”
Saturday’s show was different. Council member Dave Chapin wandered through the crowd Saturday, and said he saw “a lot of drug use going on.”
While Chapin said he was “surprised” by the Saturday crowd, he said it might be too soon to judge whether or not the people who came may ultimately be beneficial to the town.
“I remember when people said we didn’t want the lacrosse crowd in the summer,” he said.
Ratchford said Vail Resorts, which sponsors the Spring Back shows, will take a long look at Saturday’s show.
“We’re going to see how we how we move forward with Spring Back,” Ratchford said. “Our job is to get people here, to stay and to spend money. If we’re not doing that we’re making mistakes.”