At this past weekend's Umphrey's McGee shows at Best Buy Theater in
Times Square, the ever present
HeadCount table was staffed by live music fans who register voters and provide
information on the issues to fans. However, one volunteer who was volunteering
at his first show took the mission of HeadCount to be something different.
Greg Coleman from Mount Vernon, NY was excited to be taking in both an Umphrey's show as well as volunteer with HeadCount, but right from the start, something was off. "He was just kinda standing there, looking at everyone and counting to himself," reported Meghan Neely, a HeadCount volunteer for 4 years. "We thought he was just breaking the ice at first but he kept doing it and writing down numbers every so often. After about an hour he stopped doing anything altogether and went to watch the show." Coleman seemed to be sober, according to multiple eye witnesses, who noted that Coleman did not drink and was usually sober at shows.
During setbreak Coleman returned to the HeadCount table, struck up a conversation with volunteers while they were talking to fans, some of whom were being registered to vote at the time. "Come on, I got this all done earlier. No sense doing it all over again" as Coleman attempted to end the effort to register voters from the Umphrey's McGee fanbase. Neely shared that she was confused, "He really seemed to think he had done the groups job all on his own. All he did was stand there and stare at the crowd counting. Thats when it hit me. He was actually COUNTING HEADS. What a dumbass."
When reached for comment, Coleman proudly reported that he counted 1,927 heads over the course of the night, close to the sell out crowd on Saturday night."Yup, I figured I would just get it done early, so I started counting all the people out near the bar, the coat check lines (those were easy) and around the bathrooms where those well placed seats are. Once I counted them, I headed inside and started counting in earnest before and during the show."
Remarked Coleman, "I feel like I really made a difference that night."
According to HeadCount Executive Director Andy Bernstein, Coleman was brought in for training, a first for all show volunteers of HeadCount. "I was surprised that he didn't know to get a clipboard, walk around, talk to fans and if they aren't registered to vote, you try and get them to register. Pretty cut and dry ya know?" Bernstein cannot recall an instance when a volunteer or staff member didn't know the primary mission of HeadCount was to register voters and promote issues awareness. "Seriously, I started HeadCount years ago and the thought has never crossed my mind to actually count people, let alone their heads. This is a first for me. Incredible"
Coleman went through a set of new training procedures that are now in place for all volunteers. A three-hour comprehensive Civics course followed by practicing registering voters. Bernstein reported that Greg passed with flying colors and seeing the error of his ways, will be counting heads at festivals this summer.