Concert Audience Suspected Of Using Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Officials expressed suspicions that the majority of the audience gathered to see popular jam band "Widespread Panic" at Atlanta, GA's Fox Theater used illegal performance-enhancing drugs to aid in their gratification of the band's live music, fueling national concern about the effects of these substances.

Though the audience did not provide a spokesperson to comment on the charges, one concert-goer did say to reporters, "John Bell fucking, holy shit, fucking laid it down tonight, man."

"Whoa, man," commented Barry Bonds, a fan of the band. "Dude."

Experts have suspected that the occasional use of illegal substances by the audience to improve potentially average performances has been taking place for years -- especially since "that [Grateful] Dead show in '72," according to one official -- but since most instances go undocumented, estimating the breadth of influence throughout the concert-going community is difficult. Though the use of performance-enhancing drugs at rock shows seems to be on the rise, no one seems to be in a position, or exhibit any desire, to curb their use.

"Dude, I saw [Wide]spread [Panic] in Colorado last year at Telluride, which would have been the highlight of my life if I'd only had a joint to smoke at the start of the guitar solo of 'Love Tractor'," said fan Winston "Wildhorse" Breneman about the last Widespread Panic show he saw. "I was totally sober, so I can't be sure that it was as good as it could have been, so we'll just put it up with one of those 'off-night' shows."

Breneman, who writes the setlists of each show he sees on the ticket stub, puts an asterisk next to each song to indicate which songs were enhanced by the ambient effects of the pot smokers next to them, and which were witnessed without the aide of external chemicals.

"Seeing a band you love without the aide of mind-altering chemicals is a total trip, but it's also kind of cool to hear what they actually sound like, even though it's kind of a downer when you're not listening to them on a totally different plain [of consciousness]," continued Breneman. "Still, the show rocked, even though there was something lacking from the whole experience, which I can't quite put my finger on."

Experts and commentators have called for officials to take action to curb the rampant use of performance-enhancing drugs amongst the fans of bands that thrive on the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

"It might seem like fun and games," said Thomas F. Lee, President of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), "but when you think about the evolution of rock and roll music and then compare it to the current situation when half of the audience is stoned, inebriated and distracted, you wonder how the medium can maintain integrity."

Lee seemed particularly perturbed by the suggestion that inebriation and performance-altering drugs have been part of popular music since the beginning, and may have been the cause for its inception.

"Sure, there have been figures like Keith Richards, who was known for leaving the stage to scarf down two hog dogs and have a beer in the middle of a Charlie Watts drum solo," said Lee, "but the widespread disregard of the audience can only lend credence to below-average performers, which is nothing new, but something we don't want to empirically endorse."

"Or is it?" wondered Lee, after a moment of contemplation.

The use of drugs to alter the quality of a band's performance has not been outwardly refuted by any bands, fans, or anyone in the record industry -- outside of the Frank Zappa fan-base -- though some have suggested that such an attitude will water-down the potency of rock and roll, leaving only such acts as "Weird Al Yankovic" and "The Barenaked Ladies" to represent the genre in years to come.

"I mean, you've still got to put on a good show to be worth your weight," said Jason Higgins, Widespread Panic fan of seven years, "but it's just that the last time I saw them, I was stone cold sober and couldn't stop thinking about asking the guys next to us if I could have a hit of his j[oint]. And that kick ass version of 'Ain't Life Grand' was kind of diminished until he let me take a drag. Not that it didn't rock the [fucking] house, but you wouldn't know it by me, because there were other things going on -- or not going on -- at the time."

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