Voice Goes Inside The Nitrous Mafia

The next issue of the Village Voice comes out tomorrow and the cover story hits home – a profile of the Nitrous Mafia and the destruction left in their wake. Author John Tucker delves deep into every aspect of nitrous at shows from the history to its effects on the scene and the music.

Tucker spoke with Umphrey’s McGee tour manager Don Richards and Tea Leaf Green guitarist Josh Clark as well as festival promoter Ken Hays, security guards and members of the organized gangs that can make in excess of $300,000 per event, minus expenses, selling balloons.

Everyone who has gone to a festival, a jamband show in New York City or a concert in Philadelphia knows that security looks the other way and that cops must be getting paid off. This article makes plenty of mention of payoffs and security looking the other way. Marshall Rodriguez of Marker Security explains one of the reasons security doesn’t engage the Nitrous Mafia that you might not have thought of…

“If two of my guards try to walk over and take their tank, they’re not walking back,” says Rodriguez, 36 years old, cupping a bottle of Bud Light between his oversize hands. His six-foot-two, 300-pound frame hulks over the table. “My guards aren’t about to take their lives in their own hands and get beat up,” he says. “Not for $8 an hour.”

Tucker’s article is a must-read and hopefully will lead to less of these leeches infiltrating the jam scene. No one’s telling you not to ever do a balloon, but don’t support the organized criminals who sell nitrous outside of shows. The jam scene has finally made it to the cover of the Village Voice. Too bad it’s for something that has nothing to do with the music.

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4 Responses

  1. props to Josh Clark of Tea Leaf Green and the UMph tour manager for speaking out in this article. Like moe.’s Al did last year, it takes some guts to take a stand in this scene. Great read! Hope it opens the eyes of those who simply see the entire problem as “it’s just a balloon.”

  2. Good God, man. I never knew the “Nitrous Mafia” was a real thing. I just thought it was a PT comedic reference all this time.


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