When the weather in Dallas is predictable, Gexa Pavilion is a pretty nice, fun venue, except for the extremely overpriced drinks (almost $10 for a beer? Seriously?). I’ve been to other concerts at Gexa and its predecessors, and didn’t think much of the venue’s having a contingency plan in case the weather goes sideways in a hurry.
That is, until the weather went sideways during the middle of Doug E. Fresh’ s set at the Kings of the Mic Tour Friday night.
The winds started gusting hard, the evening skies turned a pinkish color, and then the distant lightning flashes soon gave way to extensive lightning strikes and rain that sent those on the lawn into the covered area to seek shelter.
Surely, I thought, Gexa had a contingency plan since it had the audacity to have a lawn and several rows of uncovered seats in the hard-to-predict Dallas weather, right?
When the uncovered guests sought shelter, the event staff told them to go back! What the…?
Umm, a note to Gexa Pavilion event staff, if there’s tons of lightning strikes followed by rain, it’s time to seek shelter to avoid being struck and killed. Common sense. So when the ensuing chaos overwhelmed the staff, the concert organizers were forced to cancel the concert and issued some muffled instructions about having event staff escort everyone out.
People were confused in part because it was hard to hear the instructions. But besides that, if everyone from the uncovered areas were reasonably inside the covered areas (there were plenty of empty seats to accommodate everyone, even in the front row areas), and the stage itself was not threatened by the storms, then why cancel it? It was almost over by now.
Several long minutes later, the concert organizers announced the show was not canceled, but temporarily halted until the storm passes through the area. Nearly one hour later (with people standing in the aisles with sore feet, and some people just left), the show resumed with Doug E Fresh. The acts did well, but the lack of contingency planning dampened the mood, in addition to the $10-16 beer.
Word of advice for Gexa and other outdoor concert venues: Unless you’re in a place where the weather is predictable, you have to have contingency plans that does not include telling people to go back to their wet, lightning-riddled seats. Either cover up the open areas, or at least have the lawn seat tickets offered on a standby basis so that if a severe storm does come through, those with standby uncovered seats can just get there money back or be offered empty seats in the covered areas. Or simply don’t sell uncovered seats at all. Simple enough. With some major acts like Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown coming soon, it would be wise for Gexa to seriously consider a much better response when bad weather hits.