The tragic death of 10 people, including a nine-year-old boy, at the Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas was unfortunately part of a decades-long line of terrible incidents that have occurred in and around music festivals and concerts. Although details of what happened at this event are still under investigation, much of the reporting around this incident, as well as early public comments by public safety officials, indicates that most of the deaths and injuries were caused by surging crowds during a performance by rap artist Travis Scott.
Sadly, this is not the first time something like this has occurred. The following are just some of the infamous examples in which crowd surges resulted in deaths and injuries at concerts and music festivals:
- In 1979, 11 people died because of a stampede that occurred when the doors opened to the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio as concertgoers rushed for the best position to view a performance by the rock band The Who
- In 2000, nine people were killed as a result of a crowd surge that occurred at the Roskilde Festival in in Denmark at the beginning of a performance by the rock band Pearl Jam
- In 2010, 21 people were killed during a stampede that occurred in a tunnel that was used for both egress and ingress to an electronic dance music festival in Germany
Investigations into these and similar incidents revealed that the most common contributors to the tragic outcomes were overcrowding, insufficient security, inadequate crowd control resources, and faulty event planning.
Stampedes and crowd surges have not been the only cause of mass casualty at concerts or festivals. Over the past decade we have seen concerts and music festivals become the sites of significant acts of targeted violence. A few of the most devastating ones include the following:
- In 2015, three terrorists, armed with assault rifles and wearing explosive vests, stormed the Bataclan theatre in Paris, France as part of a multi-pronged coordinated terrorist attack during a concert by the American band, Eagles of Death Metal. Ninety people were killed and hundreds of others were wounded
- In 2017, a suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive devise killing 22 people outside the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England as they were exiting a concert by pop singer Ariana Grande
- In 2017, a mass shooting occurred at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas. Nevada. A lone gunmen fired at the audience members from his hotel suite located in the Mandalay Bay Hotel during a performance by country singer Jason Aldean. This attack took the life of 60 people and left hundreds more wounded. To date, this the deadliest mass shooting event in the history of the United States
Accidents at concerts and festivals have also resulted in a significant number of injuries and fatalities. Two of the most notable examples include the following:
- In 2003, the setting off of pyrotechnics inside The Station nightclub, located in West Warwick, Rhode Island during a performance by the rock band Great White, started a fire which quickly engulfed the entire facility. The fire resulted in 100 fatalities and 230 injuries. Although there were four exits in the nightclub, most of the casualties occurred due to people becoming trapped in a narrow hallway leading to the main exit
- In 2011, high winds collapsed the stage scaffolding prior to a performance of the country band Sugarland at the Indiana State Fair. Seven people were killed another 53 were injured
By highlighting these awful events, we are not trying to suggest that you or your children should stop attending live-music performances. Fatalities occurring at concerts or music festivals are, statistically speaking, very rare occurrences, and concerts and festivals can be incredibly enjoyable, entertaining, and, in some cases, even inspirational experiences.
We do think it is important to note that the risk of you or a loved one experiencing personal harm can become elevated by attending a concert or music festival. Fortunately, we believe there are three simple things you or your loved ones can do to reduce that risk and minimize the vulnerabilities that in-person attendance can create.
- Do your research – Take some time to do some open-source research related to the venue, the promoters, the producers, and, most importantly, the performers. Do they have a proven record of successfully executing these events, or have they been associated with safety and security issues in the past? Travis Scott had been arrested twice before the Astroworld festival for inciting crowds to rush the stage during his performances
- Develop a plan – When you get to the venue, familiarize yourself with your surroundings. The most important thing you can do is identify ways you can exit the venue if you need to. It is important to remember that the way you came in may not be the best way for you to leave. If possible, identify multiple egress routes. If you’re with a group, identify a reunification meeting location if you get separated. The festival grounds of Astroworld were littered with cell phones following the crowd surge. You can not assume that texting, calling, or email capabilities will be available to you
- Don’t lose your situational awareness – Understandably, most of your focus will be on the show you are there to experience. Turned down house lighting, loud music, and dynamic stage effects are all designed to direct and keep your attention on the performers. They also can diminish your situational awareness. When opportunities present themselves, such as prior to a performance beginning, intermissions, and breaks in between acts, take a few minutes to do a quick reassessment of not only where you are but also what is going on around you
If you are interested in learning more about these and other strategies that can help keep you and your family members safe when attending large public gatherings, such as concerts or music festivals, please contact us at www.secured.com.