Fans defy heat at Incident

Security problems at show less than expected

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— "Dance, dance, dance, hippies, dance," Charlie Hunter told the scantily-clad crowd Wednesday, the second of the two-day Independence Incident festival. "But don't pull down your pants."

An audience ranging in age from several months to several decades braved the blistering heat to hear the Charlie Hunter Quartet, Ben Harper and the String Cheese Incident at the Steamboat Ski Area. Those who didn't camp out under makeshift tents and gigantic umbrellas threw frisbees and sipped from water guns. A large crowd surrounded the biggest non-musical star of the event a tall, silver pipe spraying a cool mist.

Midway through the show, EMT Paul Gilbertson said that they hadn't seen as many of the heat-related problems that plagued fans the day before.

"I think they're learning from yesterday," he said. "They've learned to drink and bring more water."

Underneath the moving gondolas, Alex Brezinski and Scott Demers of Massachusetts enjoyed the comfort of the shade with two glasses of beer.

"I love it, it's real good. The people are nice and the music is good," Demers said. They only had one complaint.

"That hill coming up here, man, it's killing us!" Brezinski said. "The air is thin. Now if motor scooters were provided, that would be interesting."

"It's not just cause we're fat or anything," Demers added, "we're just from lower elevations."

Most of the security presence agreed that the crowd had been cooperative and even pleasurable to deal with. The mounted security unit of Jim Lake and Lisa Rakow from Alpha and Omega Security had been watching over the crowd since yesterday, chatting with the people who came to pet their horses.

"Public safety is the top issue," Lake said. "We're not here to arrest kids or anything. They're nice, quiet, courteous and understanding, and a pleasure to work with."

"Can you guys make the wind blow?" a sweating fan asked.

"I wish we could," Rakow replied.

Emily Hegner of Event Security Management said that by Wednesday afternoon, the concert had not sold out. Todd Zeo, also of ESM, said they were expecting a bigger crowd in the area of 10,000 people. Also present were law enforcement officers from Grand, Routt and Moffat counties, and officers from the cities of Craig, Hayden, Oak Creek and Steamboat Springs and the state patrol.

Steamboat Springs Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing said his entire department has been working 12-hour shifts, with at least 10 men working the day shift, and 30 working the city at night. At least 35 officers, 10 from Steamboat and the rest from out of town, were working the concert.

"It's pretty mellow," said Patrolman Jason Patrick of Steamboat. "We're letting them have fun and make sure it doesn't get out of hand. We stay back and just try to keep it contained."

Fiebing said that the city was much more quiet on Tuesday, despite the large influx of out-of-towners. Fiebing called it "a non-event" from a law enforcement standpoint, and was even impressed with the crowd's behavior.

Mary Couch, who had just marched in the local parade, said she had never seen an event of this scale since she has been in Steamboat.

"It's blowing my mind," said Couch, 51, who was watching with family and friends. "It's great, just a little too hot. Maybe the clouds could move in a little bit."

Couch wasn't the only member of the diverse crowd over 50; fellow Steamboat resident Sue Lewis, 50, said she was intrigued by the concert and impressed by the venue.

"It sounded like a good thing to do; it's a great place to have a concert," she said. "I probably like rock music better. Jazz isn't really one of my favorites, but I like this, it's very good."

Much of the out-of-town crowd had turned the parking lot below the ski area into a giant camping ground. They cheered and danced when Hunter empathized with them via song.

"Ain't had a shower in about five a-weeks," Hunter sang. "Even all the money in my pants a-reeks."

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