When in a mob in Santiago, there’s always the feeling that things can get out of hand pretty quickly. This doesn't make the position of security guard at public events like soccer games, public demonstrations and concerts the easiest job in the city. When you look into a guard’s eyes, you can usually sense the underlying, ever-present fear for the worst.
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With Chilean band Amango and U.S. boy band Good Charlotte cancelling their performances for Day 4 of Pepsi Fest, one would think that a pop-punk concert by American band The Academy Is... (whose main fan base is boy-crazy teenage girls) would be a breath of fresh air for the staff manning the gates at Movistar Arena. After controlling the crowds at Mike Patton, Chris Cornell and Bersuit’s performances, teen-pop night should be a walk in the park, right?
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Wrong. Never underestimate the power of the adolescent crush.
Girls screamed, threw endearing debris on stage and dropped like flies as they did whatever they could to get closer and celebrate more passionately (see photos). Security guards had to scoop fainted girls out of the boisterous crowd almost every 15 minutes, with stretchers, paramedics and a ton of grabbing, pulling, yelling and running.
“There goes another one,” one stage-side guard muttered to me as two of his colleagues rushed a fallen female out on a stretcher.
Granted, the concert never got violent, no structural damage was done and it wasn’t the craziest mob in Santiago this weekend, but the teen pop-punk night that featured Chilean bands Nadu and Amost as openers certainly made the staff work for their wages.
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Musically, the shows were the standard loud, high-pitched, vocal-heavy pop-punk shows, with lots of heart-shaped hand gestures, smiles, stuffed animals and blown kisses exchanged between band and crowd.
The Academy Is... frontman William Beckett pranced around the stage in a flamboyantly spastic manner that made the female attendees scream and swoon while their patient parents sat on the sidelines watching, probably remembering what it was like to love something so naïvely.
The band played the hits “Classifieds,” “Everything We Had,” “We’ve Got a Big Mess on our Hands” and “About a Girl,” and undoubtedly sent most attendees rushing home to draw hearts in diaries, upload William Beckett photos to Facebook and dream inappropriate dreams about musicians with shaggy haircuts, tight pants and a knack for catering to a crowd.