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Don’t Mess With Wes Smith at Union Transfer.

September 13, 2013

WesUnionTransfer02smallText by Ashley Coleman. Image by Rachel Barrish.

Wes Smith is not quite what you would expect from the head-of-security type – you know, the frowning, tough guy, waiting for a fight? He’s not that. He’s fairly soft-spoken, a reader and a self-proclaimed “nerd.”

Whether he defies your expectations or not, his calm demeanor still makes you think twice about wanting to push his buttons.

Smith’s temperament is easy as he leans back comfortably in his chair. Listening to him tell stories about working over the years shows a more caring side of security. The danger seems almost non-existent in the way he speaks about being surrounded by skinheads, squaring up with a 400-pound guest and saving young women from the wiles of prowling patrons.

Smith started doing security during college but it certainly wasn’t his first choice for a career. He started out as a welder, found his way into computer programming and, after the Y2K bug hit, he had to reroute his path once again as jobs were being outsourced to places like Mumbai and Dublin. When the programming work grew scarce, Smith began to do security for a few bars around town.

It was an invitation to a show at the First Unitarian Church that introduced Smith into a new scene he had never experienced before.

“Going to a show back in the day for me was going to the old Spectrum or The Tower before it got a facelift,” he says.

The hot and sweaty basement of the Church was far from those experiences.

A year or two after frequenting shows and doing freelance security gigs, Smith began doing security at the Starlight Ballroom before they got their own in-house team. He also worked for Joe Hardcore at the annual This is Hardcore multi-day festival.

“That was even more of a culture shock,” he says. “All these guys with tattoos up and down and on their faces. Real tough thugs. To be doing security for them was almost kind of funny.”

Most of the guests looked like they could’ve handled their own security, he says with a laugh.

Now settled into his current position at Union Transfer, among a few other freelance security projects, Smith believes that an emphasis on friendliness and customer service helps to keep order. You won’t find any “knuckle- dragging Neanderthals” on his team, Smith says.

Though Union Transfer does run a tight ship, all venues run into trouble here and there. One of the only shows they’ve ever had to cancel was a Moosh & Twist performance in February. A bus full of under-aged patrons showed up to the venue visibly intoxicated and the security team had to prevent them from entering.

“This kid passes out and he’s puking in his lap and his friends are recording it,” Smith says, shaking his head. “It’s sad but it’s a constant issue.”

Smith finds himself laughing at the outrageous things people try to get away with. Every week, whether it’s a millionaire charity event or a death metal show, someone always seems to try to sneak something different into the show. Smith enjoys the challenge.

“I love it,” he muses. “I love the environment.”

One Comment
  1. September 13, 2013 5:04 pm

    My favorite security guy ever!

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