WP Concerts - an excuse for drug use

Another bad rap for the band Widespread Panic. This time coming from Louisville where police staked out the Palace Theater on April 11th looking for drug dealers. City police made as many as 60 arrests with at least 9 of them felonies.

WHAS channel 11 in Louisville reported on the arrests in an article reprinted here.

Hippies hassled by the man at rock show
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A concert at the Palace Theater proved to be a fertile ground for police looking for drug dealers and users.

The musical group was called “Widespread Panic,” but their concert seemed to be an excuse for widespread drug use. More than 60 people were arrested.

Their billboards were still in place at the Palace; their impact will be felt in the court system for weeks and months to come.

Last year, Widespread Panic came to Louisville and their followers caught local police off guard with drugs and fights. This time, Metro Police were ready.

“Last year, they had free reign. We kind of tightened down on them this year,” says Sgt. Robert Kaelin of Metro Police. “They now realize the can come in and have a good time, but they need to leave the drugs at home.”

The vendors who follow the band set up shop in parking lots and garages near Fifth and Chestnut streets. Some sold t-shirts, but many sold drugs. Some dealers were even working the middle of Fourth Street. They quickly went to jail. Police had a paddy wagon ready, making nine felony arrests and 48 misdemeanor pick-ups. They also recovered over a pound of marijuana, drug pipes, cocaine and more.

“They have a lot of marijuana. They do a lot of mushrooms. They do a little bit of cocaine. You know, the majority of mushrooms and psychedelic drugs.”

Police say it reminds them of the Grateful Dead tours. Groupies, mostly from out of town, follow the bands, do drugs and see the show. Sgt. Kaelin says he's gotten calls from Fourth Street merchants thanking police for cracking down on this show.

And he says police are always on the lookout for shows that bring a drug culture to town.

Widespread Panic makes an annual stop in Louisville, and police say they depend on the Palace Theater and other venues to alert them when a band is booked that might bring trouble along with the music.