THE LAS VEGAS SHOOTING: How Will the Live Music Industry Respond?
Wednesday // October 4, 2017
“Pray for Paris,” “Pray for Manchester," “Pray for Orlando," and now, “Pray for Las Vegas”. The slogans ring all too familiar, and prior to each event, all unprecedented.
Of course, none of these attacks were linked together in relation to the shooter, motive, nor region.
The Bataclan attack was part of a series of coordinated Paris terrorist attacks on November 13, 2015, where 89 of the 130 killed were attending the Eagles of Death Metal concert.
On May 22, 2016, 22-year old Salman Abedi bombed the outside foyer of an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 and injuring 116.
The terrorist attack on Pulse Nighclub in Orlando, Florida, hit closer to home for Americans when 29-year old Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured 58 in the deadliest hate crime against the LGTBQ+ community and deadliest U.S. mass shooting at the time.
The 2017 Las Vegas Strip Shooting, or the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shooting, took Pulse’s spot when 64-year old Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, overlooking the crowd of 22,000 concertgoers. On October 2, 2017, Paddock fired shots for ten minutes, killing 58 and injuring 530 innocent people.
The only thing that connects these events together are the events themselves. We attend music events to celebrate music, life and loved ones. We put aside about our troubles, disagreements and hardships in our lives for a few hours, or sometimes a few days at a festival, to unite in the form of music.
Live Nation, the same promoter for the Ariana Grande concert where the Manchester attack occurred, has promoted Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas for four years. On Monday, the company issued a heartfelt statement regarding support to victims and their families following the aftermath of the horrendous tragedy. The statement also thanks first responders and other employees.
The company also states, “And while we are stunned and grieving over this incomprehensible act of violence, we know that this is a moment when we must come together to prevent more tragedies like this from occurring.”
Each of these events then questions the effectiveness of security. How do we secure the inside? How do we secure in the perimeter?
And now, an even more frightening question: How do we secure an aerial attack several football fields away and 32 stories high?
There are two areas to focus on. First, how do we prevent individuals from transporting several boxes of high-power ammunition into an upper-level hotel room? And how do we protect innocent concertgoers on the ground from the external danger?
Regarding hotel security, none of the hotel employees noticed anything out of the ordinary in Paddock’s hotel room or behavior. In fact, Steven Adelman, vice president of the Event Safety Alliance, said “[Paddock] would have eluded attention anywhere,” CBS reported on Tuesday. He added that the only sure-fire way to prevent weapons entering hotels would require impractical airport-style surveillance.
Mac Segal, head of Hotel and Fixed Site Security Consulting at AS Solution, told USA Today that hotel security would never anticipate this type of attack.
The ESA’s statement on the shooting reads, “Our industry is more united and resolute than ever in the advancement of robust security protocols to ensure the safety of our cherished guests, artists, and crew. However, sometimes there is never enough..we will continue together to advocate for increasingly effective safety measures at events around the globe.”
When something this devastating occurs due to the threat external to the facility, event promoters find it more difficult than ever, if not impossible, to predict or take account for what is going on outside of your facility.
“The venue, Live Nation, and the various promoters are all focused on securing the facility. This threat was external - via the hotel, where they have no jurisdiction or operational control or ability to manipulate the variables around security…” said Chris Robinette, CEO of Prevent Advisors, a security consulting company, Variety reported.
Therefore, this type of attack calls for large outdoor event organizers to observe event regulation in regards to evacuation procedures and the event location, such as events next to high-rise hotels.
Standing room festival seating easily sparks chaos in response to a disaster such as this.
“There are no aisles, no direction and the crowd density is high. A lot of people are all leaving at once, they can’t find a way out and there is no one to give direction,” said Paul Wertheimer, head of Crowd Management Strategies, to USA Today.
Segal added the lack of pre recorded announcement at Route 91 Festival accounted for much of the confusion for the attendees in regards to some kind of direction on where to evacuate.
As for events adjacent to high-rise buildings and hotels, security professionals and promoters suggested expanding the perimeter around these types of targets, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. But, Adelman adds, “Do you not hold festivals near hills or tall trees?”
All of these questions are seemingly becoming the new norm for security professionals, event venues and event promoters. Robinette urges that working with law enforcement officials in the area of the event and security professionals in surrounding buildings must both have a plan to respond to any catastrophic event.
Living in a world where we cannot prevent or predict every threat may be the inevitable. As for concertgoers, music brings people together in joy. Whether or not these events stop people from obtaining that joy, our law enforcement and security officials must put disaster plans into place now more than ever.
With all four senseless tragedies that are difficult to understand -- Manchester, Paris, Orlando and Las Vegas -- the one thing we know we can act on, is to be prepared.