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HOW TO PREVENT & COPE WITH ANXIETY AT YOUR FESTIVAL GIG

HOW TO PREVENT & COPE WITH ANXIETY AT YOUR FESTIVAL GIG

MONDAY // APRIL 9, 2018

It’s officially festival season. Whether you’re the musician, performer, venue employee, volunteer, security, driver, touring crew, camping operations, tech crew, stagehand, ticketing operations, etc...working at a days-long music festival can throw serious curve balls at your mental health.

Behind-the-scene areas can be just as chaotic as the elements posed to the general public. You’re constantly just trying to do your job, but sometimes the music festival environment can throw you off balance.

Factors include but are not limited to a lack of sleep, working overtime, sensory overload, dehydration, high-stress environment, skipping meals and much more.

More recently than before, an increasing number of countries are finally beginning to put mental health on the same level of importance as physical wellbeing. In an industry already mentally and physically demanding, paying attention to your own wellness often comes second, if not last.

In the days leading up to and during your festival gig, feelings of anxiety are highly common. In fact, anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, with approximately 40 million people affected, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Each individual is widely unique from the next, so each formula will differ in regards to what works and what does not.

That being said, here is our round-up of tips and tricks you may consider to prevent anxiety, to combat anxiety or what to do if you experience a full-blown panic attack during your festival gig.

Prevention: Prepare for the days ahead

You know you’ll be working at Coachella in a few days, so now is the time to prepare yourself both physically and mentally.

It’s kind of like preparing for a marathon minus actually being in the marathon. Physically prepare yourself by feeding your body the right nutrients it needs and getting enough sleep during the nights leading up to the festival.

Your friends and family may have the common misconception about you working behind the scenes of a music festival - meaning, you’ll receive lavish treatment alongside festival acts they dream to see in concert. Sorry to disappoint your loved ones, you remind them the only person there to take care of you is YOU. And besides, most of the festival acts have their own trailers or spaces separate from the backstage crew.

Long story short, you need to be responsible for keeping your physical health in check. Particular circumstances may call for you to stand for longer than normal periods of time, remain in crowded areas (yes, even backstage, especially before/during performances of bigger artists), spend lots of time away from air conditioned rooms or resort to a meal you wouldn’t normally opt for.

If you prepare with lots of sleep and nutritious meals, your body will react stronger to unforeseen situations at the festival. Lack of sleep contributes to both stress and anxiety, so going into the festival with your energy tank full is highly recommended.

Like we’ve said in previous blog posts, the more stressed you are, the less likely you are to sleep and having a bad night’s sleep prior to working at the festival will contribute further to that stress and cause anxiety.

And again, too much caffeine intake and/or smoking cigarettes to combat sleep deprivation and stress, respectively, are both recipes for anxiety.

If you’ve never been to the venue, try and familiarize yourself with it through maps, research or even a Google maps image of the outside. It may seem like the obvious thing to do, but double or triple checking may ease your nerves.

Also noting the locations to exits, entrances, emergency exits and medical tents is both helpful and comforting. Apply this same knowledge to both general public areas and backstage.

Prior to the festival, try to tell yourself and expect that you cannot control everything. Roll with the punches and do your best. If you are doing the absolute best job you can do in your control then you’ll have to settle for it - and be proud!

Feeling Anxious

Of course, there is a big difference between feeling anxious and suffering from an anxiety disorder. Regardless, when facing these feelings, it may be safe to say the individual is experiencing behavioral anxiety, a response to frightening or stressful situations, Life Hacker reported.

There are many theories pertaining to the origin of anxiety and many forms of anxiety disorders. Whether you are one or the other, repetitive feelings of anxiety, strong or mild can have a negative impact on your state of mind during the big event.

Despite all attempts at prevention, you begin to tense up, have an overwhelming sense of awareness of all your surroundings and feel fearful and/or dreadful. This is the definition of anxiety.

But how do you know if you are experiencing a panic attack? Outlined by Anxiety BC, there are 4 Facts you should know about panic attacks:

  1. Panic attacks are simply the body’s fight/flight/freeze response even when there is no real danger present. A physical response may include an increased heart rate.
  2. Although scary and/or uncomfortable, panic attacks are harmless. They are compared to an alarm system within your body, but not designed to cause real harm.
  3. Panic attacks only last about 5-10 minutes, although they may feel as if they last an eternity.
  4. Many times, most people won’t be able to see you experiencing one. Those closest to you will, but for the most part they are internal experiences.

Outlined by the Anxiety And Depression Association of America (ADAA), here are some strategies you can use to decrease the intensity of a panic attack. Anxiety BC urges one to use these techniques NOT to stop a panic attack, but to help you ride it out until it’s over.

  • Take deep breaths; concentrate on inhaling and exhaling slowly through your nose. Not just in the event of a panic attack, but also throughout the day while feeling stressed.
    • Don’t use breathing to stop a panic attack, because it’ll only make it worse. Instead, use breathing techniques to lessen the intensity, Anxiety BC reported.
    • Slowly count to 10 or 20 if necessary

Taking a time out not be possible with your role at the festival, but in any moment you have a team member who can take your place for a small window of 5-10 minutes, getting some fresh air away from the chaos in a comfortable area works wonders.

  • In preparation to the festival, stowing some headphones in your pocket for this situation also helps remove yourself mentally from the chaotic scene
  • Learn some relaxation techniques such as meditation - meditation during a festival, yeah right. This is where headphones and a space to close your eyes for a brief moment can really help.
  • If possible, try some of these Muscle Relaxation techniques. This is more effective if you start practicing these in times not suffering from a panic attack. So in the event you experience one, this technique will be a piece of cake.  

Adopt Realistic Thinking

According to Anxiety BC, what occurs in the mind during a panic attack can be categorized as overestimating or catastrophizing.

  • Overestimating: Picturing the worst outcome (that most likely will not happen) is going to happen, such as having a heart attack due to your panic attack
    • Fight back: These thoughts are NOT facts. You are mistaking a possibility for a probability. Ask yourself how likely this outcome actually is.
  • Catastrophizing: Thinking the worst thing will happen and you won’t be able to deal with it, such as fainting from a panic attack and having others laugh and judge you  
    • Fight back: Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen when coping with the negative situation. Would it really make a difference in the duration of a year?  

These are just some of the tools one can use to combat a panic attack. Many more involve steps to take at home, away from the festival scene, that will overall help you when you are challenged with a panic attack on the job.

To read more in detail about panic attacks and management strategies you can take during the attack, before and after click here.

Finally, when the festival is all said and done, it is crucial to take at least one day off to regroup. Your hard work, long hours, lack of sleep and/or nutrition probably derailed from its normal, healthy path so it is important to give your body and mind the rest it needs and deserves.

Really try to put down the phone and refrain from checking every single email the day after the festival. Those follow-up emails and thank-yous can very well wait 24 hours.

When you do return to work, this could be the perfect time to open up to your team about how you’re feeling.

If you feel stressed and overwhelmed, chances are your team members feel the same way and a support system is formed.

This could also be a time to speak with teammates and supervisors about what went well and what did not.

Evaluate the situations that caused the most stress by writing them down, discussing them and making a lasting change for future festivals and events.

In turn, encourage your team to open up by asking how they are really feeling and offering a helping hand. According to Conference & Incentive Travel that ranked events industry professionals No.5 on the most stressful jobs, a staggering 38% of individuals do not want to ask for help.

Reassuring your teammates they’re not alone could very well change this percentage and the stigma associated with mental health in our industry.  
 

"Strike A Chord" Discussion Spoke Volumes On Mental Wellness in the Entertainment Industry

  Those who participated in the panel include Talinda Bennington, Chester's wife; Anna Shinoda, Chester's band mate's wife; ESA Chairman Jim Digby, Director of Touring & Production for Linkin Park; Joey "Vendetta" Scoleri, Head of Industry Relations of Live Nation Canada; & Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D., Founder and President of Give an Hour

Those who participated in the panel include Talinda Bennington, Chester's wife; Anna Shinoda, Chester's band mate's wife; ESA Chairman Jim Digby, Director of Touring & Production for Linkin Park; Joey "Vendetta" Scoleri, Head of Industry Relations of Live Nation Canada; & Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D., Founder and President of Give an Hour

Strike A Chord Discussion Spoke Volumes On Mental Wellness in the Entertainment Industry

By: Dana Janssen, TourReady, Inc. 

WEDNESDAY // FEBRUARY 28, 2018

In July 2017, the music world tragically and abruptly lost the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington. Born out of tragedy, on January 31, 2018, the Strike A Chord Discussion at Live Nation Canada focused on mental wellness in the entertainment industry and specific actions to take better care of ourselves and each other.

While working in the entertainment industry is rewarding, the lifestyle itself creates challenges to our mental health. The constantly evolving industry creates a high-pressure, stressful environment where we tend to place our entire well being on the back burner as a matter of course.

High stress, lack of sleep, chronic jet lag, poor eating habits, and a lack of exercise are just a few of the challenges touring professionals deal with on a daily basis. A 2017 American business traveler study from On Call International found that ⅓ of road warriors experience higher than normal stress levels, causing several issues including the growth or worsening of depression and anxiety.

In response to the growing number of individuals who are emotionally suffering, Live Nation CanadaBell Let's TalkWarner Music CanadaCanadian Event Safety and Event Safety Alliance (ESA) teamed up to spread mental health awareness and voice a new approach for people to easily find the help they deserve.

Those participating in the panel were those closest to Chester, including Talinda Bennington, Chester’s wife; Anna Shinoda, Author and Chester’s band mate’s wife; ESA Chairman Jim Digby, Director of Touring and Production for Linkin Park; and Joey “Vendetta” Scoleri, Head of Industry Relations of Live Nation Canada. Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D., Founder and President of Give An Hour also joined the event. Give an Hour leads the Campaign to Change Direction and is now working closely with Talinda Bennington to reach those who are in need of mental health care and support. 

In addition to the organizations previously listed, attendees of the private event included The AFC, a company that provides emergency funding for Canada’s entertainment industry; OVER THE BRIDGE, a nonprofit dedicated to mental health and addiction awareness and support resources; and TourReady, Inc., a partner of the ESA working to spread the Canadian initiatives on mental health awareness and actions in the United States.

The group disclosed personal experiences in order to discuss how to talk about mental health; recognize warning signs, changes in behaviors and triggers; seek support for ourselves; and how to help those surrounding us who are suffering emotionally and/or dealing with addiction.

Live entertainment individuals gathered before the panel hoping to make a lasting change across the industry in the aftermath of the loss of Chester. We hope to heal ourselves and those in need. The discussion on mental health has well begun reaching higher volumes and has sparked the world to listen more than ever before. People are finally talking.

Live Nation Canada furnished the discussion room with round tables, chairs, comfortable red couches and coffee tables. Each table displayed several handouts of a graphic picturing the Campaign to Change Direction’s Five Signs of someone who suffers from emotional pain and might need support.

Samantha Slattery, co-chair and executive director of Capital Presents opened the event alongside Janet Sellery, co-chair and health & safety consultant of Sellery Health + Safety.

Digging deep into sensitive topics, Sellery reminded the audience to excuse themselves if anyone is left feeling vulnerable, and offered an on-site psychotherapist for support. Digby advised the audience to take a deep breath before diving into the crucial discussion.

“We Let Our Guard Down”

There had been no overt signs prior to the loss of Chester, Digby said. The Linkin Park Family welcomed Digby in 2002, throughout the journey the family ideal continually evolved to it’s most recent place of nearly perfect. Chester’s sudden passing devastated the entire family who never saw this coming.

Not only did grief and shock overwhelm the LP family, but also their dedicated and loyal fans. The difficult lyrics, Digby said, spoke to fans in a uniquely genuine way. Fans coped with the loss of their hero heavily through social media, supporting one another through asking for help in their own lives.

The most important and alarming factor is that depression rarely has a face. There are very few “tells” and in some cases none. Though after the fact we can sometimes see indications – or “signs” of the pain or suffering that was hidden.

Some of Chester’s inner demons were known over the years and had played a crucial part of who he was. However, during the months preceding his loss it appeared as though he had things under control. “In fact,” Digby said, “this was the best, and most in control Chester we had ever seen."

The discussion presented a home video of a seemingly joyful Chester in good spirits playing The Jelly Bean Challenge with loved ones.  Digby challenged the audience to identify anything out of the ordinary in the video. No one could.

The video was shot only 36 hours before his passing.

“Our guard was down,” Digby said. “He was presenting himself as newly transformed and completely in control.”

Musicians are far too familiar with experiencing emotional ups and downs. With each performance comes the body’s own natural high. The artist connects with the audience, the audience adornment produces a chemical response including dopamine, adrenalin and cortisol, all of which need to be managed, Digby said.

Not only do artists experience these highs, but also crew members behind the scenes will and do as well in their excitement over the thrill of the job. OVER THE BRIDGE recognizes the wide range of industry professionals who may experience similar mental health challenges, including but not limited to, “musicians, booking agents, venue owners, event security, hospitality personnel, bus/truck drivers, and local crew and touring crew.”

The problem occurs when the show is over, the hotel door shuts and the lights turn off. What happens after experiencing such a huge high followed by the quietness of a hotel room or bus bunk? Sometimes to continue reveling in the euphoric rush, substance use or other addictive behaviors become normalized.

Despite the anecdotal reports of post-performance lows and substance use and addiction to combat these lows, there is a lack of research to back the important issues that have become very normalized amongst musicians.

Ace Piva of OVER THE BRIDGE and his research team designed a study that measures musician post-performance mood response and how those individuals manage, cope and celebrate those emotions. The team is currently sorting through the collected data of the study produced under the supervision of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

“It is our duty to acknowledge it and make it ok to talk about it to try and help others help themselves or someone they care about,” Digby said. “That’s why we’re here.”

“What Did I Miss?”

Although Talinda and Chester were inseparable from the start, the two began as emotionally unhealthy in their own, separate ways. He had struggled with depression and addiction in the past, something Talinda had strived again and again to understand from her perspective - a totally unknown territory.

“We can seem so normal and so okay, and then not be okay - in an instant,” Talinda said. 

At the time of his passing, Chester had practiced sobriety for six months and was also enrolled in an outpatient treatment program.

Any relapse in the past resulted in utmost, indescribable shame within Chester.  In addition to overwhelming shame, Talinda recalled the ongoing pressure Chester experienced throughout his musical career. With each album success came the pressure to achieve an even higher success on the next album, while at the same time fighting hard for self-improvement.

His loved ones will remain unaware of Chester’s thought process during his final moments, but the only things to blame are disease, addiction and mental illness. What are some of the issues victims’ loved ones experience in the aftermath of a tragic loss such as Chester’s?

To answer this question, TourReady spoke to Van Dahlen, who, through Give an Hour, created a national network of volunteer mental health professionals who provide free and confidential mental health care to those in need including those who serve, veterans and their families.

The grief survived loved ones are left with, Van Dahlen told TourReady, is overwhelming and they wish to undo it.

“Survivors guilt,” she said, “is an actual phenomenon that we frequently see when someone dies by suicide, when there are traumas, natural disasters occur, or in the aftermath of an mass shooting.”

Both survivors and loved ones live with thoughts such as, “What did I miss?”; “Could I have prevented it?”;  “Recognized it?”; and, “Could I have seen it coming?”

The answer is that it is typically extremely difficult to prevent these traumas or tragedies.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time,” Van Dahlen continued, “the survivor couldn’t have changed [the outcome] or stopped it.”

Following the immediate aftermath, these feelings are normal and understandable. However, people will have to judge how well they can tolerate [those feelings], Van Dahlen said.

“When a survivor’s grief becomes unremitting and begins to preoccupy the individual throughout the day or late at night, people deserve proper care, support and attention to work through these feelings and reactions so that they can move on,” Van Dahlen said.

Instead of attempting to answer the why we must understand his passing as a recipe for a tragic final conclusion.

“Typically, there are multiple factors that contribute to someone’s death by suicide. In Chester’s case it may have been past traumas, the impact of addition and the loss of his close friend, Chris Cornell - how these all fit together, for Chester, we will likely never know,” Van Dahlen said.

Remaining stuck in the endlessly tangled search for answers will solely result in significant suffering within the individuals who are left behind.

Based on what we know from those closest to him, the years of untreated mental health and substance abuse led to his loss against the battle of mental health.

Thanks to the individuals who shared their experiences at Strike A Chord, the music industry continues to take a huge step forward to remove the stigma surrounding mental health, in hopes of changing the culture for future generations to come.

Changing the Culture

The stigma associated with mental health, mental illness and addiction contributes to the overwhelming emotional suffering within the individual.

Shinoda shared an entry on her personal blog the embarrassment she felt and costs associated with mental health that she, too, suffered with prior to finding what methods work best.

Shinoda discussed the issue of the mental health stigma that turns people away from seeking the attention they deserve. One simple way we can combat the stigma is to change the language we use in society when discussing mental health.

She introduced the phrase committed suicide alone heavily weighs blame on the victim for a tragic end of his or her emotional suffering. If instead, we begin to say died by suicide, we recognize a very real, fatal outcome for untreated mental illnesses.

We need to change the culture. It can feel embarrassing, and the time it takes to navigate affordable resources heightens the stigma, leaving a threat to mental wellbeing untreated. Moving beyond the stigma takes effort from everyone to look after one another in support.

Talinda said something that will resonate with me for the years to come: “When we ask ‘how are you,’ are we really asking, ‘how are you?’”

Think about the last time someone asked you this question, and what their response might have been. Did they ignore your answer? Did they look in the other direction? Did they walk away from you?  If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then you know the abrupt exchange was not a positive one.

Again, we may seem so normal but we aren’t always okay.

Talinda teamed up with Give an Hour and the Campaign to Change Direction to launch a new initiative in honor of Chester’s life, 320 Changes Direction.

Being able to speak openly about these struggles encourages those in need to seek the care they deserve. This is one of the two needs the Campaign to Change Direction and 320 Changes Direction initiative aims to satisfy.

By first changing the culture of mental health, Change Direction and Talinda seek to build a new approach for those suffering to easily find help they need and deserve. In this industry, checking in with each other - caring for each other’s mental wellbeing - is crucial.

When the Campaign to Change Direction launched on March 2, 2015, their 50 partners, and now 320 Changes Direction, have pledged to educate the world about the Five Signs of emotional suffering in order to launch a public health effort for everyone – to encourage all of us to care for our emotional well being. With one in five Americans dealing with a mental health challenge, it is no surprise First Lady Michelle Obama helped launch the campaign as their keynote speaker in Washington, D.C.

Van Dahlen compared knowing the signs of a heart attack equally as important as recognizing the signs of emotional suffering.

“We would never say ‘suck it up’ to cancer,” Van Dahlen continued, “so why would we [say that] to someone who is emotionally suffering?”

Changing this stigma also lies in the hands of parents who should encourage their children to think and talk about their emotional wellbeing.

“We teach them about issues such as drugs and sex but we don’t spend a whole lot of time helping them grow emotionally fit,” Van Dahlen said. She made the argument emotional wellbeing is a bedrock for success in life, healthy relationships, families and communities.

Putting time and energy into the prevention of emotional suffering is a great start to ensuring our children are emotionally healthy to begin with.

There is hope for new pathways, Van Dahlen continued, but there is no pill to fix a mental health challenge. Although there are pills to aid mental suffering, such as an aid in sleep after a post-traumatic event, one still needs to put in the work.

Seeking Self-Help

To understand the difference between an emotionally suffering individual and one who is not, each individual’s brain differs widely from the rest. Humans have yet to understand how each and every brain works in its entirety – but this is ok because there is a lot we do know about how our brains contribute to our feelings and our behaviors.

Along with the movement to drive culture change, the second goal of these amazing organizations aims to create a new approach to guarantee easy access in finding help whenever necessary.

The ability to help ourselves is what we do understand. Humans have the capability to heal and change behavior patterns, Van Dahlen said.

During the struggle of his own mental health journey, Scoleri compared the incessant rumination plagued over his brain to spiders searching for every negative thought imaginable.

To help himself, other habits Scoleri currently practices include meditation, exercise, avoiding caffeine/alcohol, eating clean, eliminating social media, turning one’s phone off two hours prior to bed, and much more he listed on a convenient handout at the discussion.

The problem is, Scoleri revealed, is no one provided his personal list of tips for him. He had to recognize his own need for help and work for it.

The panel then displayed a quote by Maya Angelou:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Mental health awareness training, Digby said, is a good idea. We have already seen both Canada and the UK jump ahead with government funding toward mental health first aid. And the Campaign to Change Direction launched the Five Healthy Habits of Emotional Well-being that we can all learn and practice on www.changedirection.org.

Bell Let’s Talk has created their own five ways to end the stigma around mental illness, described on the home page of their website.

More industry specific, the AFC, formerly known as the Actors Fund of Canada, is described as the lifeline for Canada’s entertainment industry. Each year, the organization distributes $500,000 in emergency financial aid to help all entertainment industry professionals suffering from injury, illness or other personal hardships.

In addition to OVER THE BRIDGE currently sorting data from the post-performance mood response study, they have collected local mental health programs and resources, entertainment support and national crisis support/distress lines on their website, www.overthebridge.org and http://www.ementalhealth.ca.

The mental health conversation in the American entertainment industry has recently jumped on board. When asking Van Dahlen about organizations leading the conversation, she credited Live Nation and Warner Music for seizing the opportunity to build a movement within the music industry to address needs of artists, industry professionals behind the scenes and fans.

The Recording Academy MusiCares brings awareness to music industry professionals suffering from co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders and uses their platform to educate us on programs available across the nation.

Change Direction’s partnerships with Talinda through 320 Changes Direction, various artists and groups, Live Nation, the industry standards Digby continues to develop, and the supporting organizations at Strike A Chord are all faced with a huge opportunity to elevate this important issue.  

The resources are here. But it takes the individual to recognize and help him or herself as a first step in order to utilize the resources. And people in this world have the right to take care of themselves.

Shortly before Chester passed, a veteran had given him a dog tag Talinda wore around her neck bearing a message for all of us.

Without courage, wisdom bears no fruit,” Talinda read. “I found this after he passed, at a time when I needed to hear it the most. So I want to pass that to you. Now you know - we’ve shared this wisdom with you, but it takes courage. And I wish that courage to every one of you to take care of yourselves.”


Bell Let’s Talk Day 2018 resulted in over 130,000 online interactions and raised $6,919,199 dedicated to mental health in Canada becoming a stigma-free country.

Learning Resources

To learn more about the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering and pledge to share the Signs, visit The Campaign to Change Direction: www.changedirection.org

To learn more about mental health conditions visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): NAMI.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions

To learn more about mental health organizations and statistics worldwide visit World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int/mental_health/en/

Hotlines

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Text SIGNS to 741741 for the Crisis Text Line

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 1-800-487-4889

 

Watch the full stream video of Strike A Chord here.

 

WHY SPECIALIZED PIT SECURITY IS CRUCIAL

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WHY PIT SPECIALIZED PIT SECURITY IS CRUCIAL

MONDAY // FEBRUARY 26, 2018

If you have not seen the bizarre video from earlier this month of the over excited fan climbing onto Keisha Cole’s stage to only get physically thrown off by security - well, you should. Here it is below:

 
 

In the video, the man is seen hopping the barricade to join Cole on stage and appears to try and grab the microphone from her. It didn’t take long before security grabbed the man who didn’t seem to comply with the bouncer’s orders before throwing him off of the stage.

Although no injuries were reported, the fall looks quite painful. How did this man manage to get past security? How did he manage to climb the barricade and do so without anyone noticing in time?

The video seems to show pit security fail to react in time to the over zealous fan. Sometimes the consequences won’t stop these types of fans from committing this act. For one, an individual who commits this crime may get arrested, charged with a misdemeanor, punishable up to 93 days in jail and fined as much as $500, Thomas Hardesty, Director of Security & Traffic Management for Palace Sports Entertainment told Yahoo! Entertainment.

This man may have suffered minor injuries, but others are not so lucky. In fact, a fan actually died two weeks after a 2010 Ted Nugent show after the bass player kicked the adoring fan in the head after he snuck on stage, Yahoo! Entertainment reported.

The event security, but perhaps they weren’t specialized pit security personnel. GPS Security outlined five reasons why every event needs to establish specialized pit security for us to elaborate on in response to the recent event.   

1. Lifting People Properly: Especially after this man fell (after security failed to catch him), lifting individuals from a dense crowd requires proper training and care. With the potential for injury of both the lifter and the individual, specialized pit crews are necessary since they possess the sufficient skills to do so.

2. Performers Safety / Fan Safety: When a venue hires a specialized pit crew, the performer should not be subject to any threats from the crowd. Even if the performer decides to descend to the crowd for interaction, the specialized pit crew upholds the performer’s safety. Although the intentions of the over excited fan may not be malicious, an uncontrolled fan on stage opens many doors for a negative conclusion - which brings us to another point we decided is just as important: Fan Safety.

Just like the video, security aggressively shoved the fan onto the floor. What if the fan had fallen head first or trampled on following the fall? Having a surprise fan jump on stage isn’t the first thought on the performer’s mind during their gig. Just as we mentioned before, a fan had died because of the bass player’s reaction.  

3. Safety of Crew: When a crew is in place, they not only look out for the performers/fans, but also each other. In a case where one security personnel acts alone, he or she may not have the proper backup if a fan becomes too much for one person to handle alone. Lifting and escorting an individual should be done in groups of three, eliminating the difficulty and danger of the crew member and the individual. 

4. They See Everything: From the video, it is very difficult to tell where the security’s eyes are focused on at the time of the barricade hop. An experienced pit crew knows how to constantly scan the crowd for threats while interacting casually. In addition, some pit crews may have water to keep the pit fans hydrated.

5. Team Work = Key to Good Functioning: An experienced pit crew will have a plan of action for every circumstance. The article explains if one pit crew member notices an issue, he or she will know the proper way to inform the others and seamlessly handle the situation together.

TOURING INTERNATIONALLY WITH OVERDUE TAXES? NOT HAPPENING

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WEDNESDAY // JANUARY 24, 2018

TOURING INTERNATIONALLY WITH OVERDUE TAXES? NOT HAPPENING

Picture this: You’re mentally prepared to leave the country for The Killers South American tour in about a month and a half. You’ve taken care of things at home and more than excited for the adventure ahead. Then it hits you: You need to renew your passport. Passports take about eight weeks to renew, but you’ll just expedite it for reassurance, you think to yourself.

You then head down to your local post office for passport renewal.

Denied?! What do you mean denied?!

The new Notice 2018-01 includes new rules regarding tax debts ultimately preventing one from receiving or renewing a passport, reported Robert W. Wood on Forbes. Additionally, the State Department may choose to revoke your current passport after the IRS notifies your tax debt as “seriously delinquent.”

From this Forbes article, we’ve outlined the main things you’ll need to know and do step-by-step when faced with this nightmare - or simply want to avoid it.

Two VERY important things to know:

  • A “seriously delinquent” tax debt means you owe over $50,000, but be aware this is the total including penalties and interest - so $20,000 has this ability to accumulate to $50,000.
  • The sooner you respond to IRS notices prior to this phase, and continue protest / disputing, a tax debt does NOT finalize - so stop ignoring those notices!

By law, the IRS is required to notify the State Department when things get to this point. In fact, the law was enacted three years ago but have now decided to put regulations into play.

I got myself into this mess. What now?  

  1. If possible, pay the taxes in full right away
  2. Enter into an installment agreement with the IRS
    • Paying your tax debt overtime will eliminate the IRS label “seriously delinquent” as long as payments are made on time
  3. Offer a compromise
    • You are entitled to a Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing before Appeals if the IRS sends you a notice. Click here for more details.

So it feels like life completely sucks at this point, but you don’t have to find a new job or make any drastic life changes - yet. You have to act quick, because the State Department gives you only 90 days to fix the issue before denying the passport application.

But I need my passport within these 90 days!

You then must contact the IRS yourself and resolve the issue 45 days within your application date.

The IRS made a mistake! I already fixed my tax debt! / My tax debt is NOT seriously delinquent!  

If your case falls under either of these scenarios, your next step is to file a civil action in court. Although you cannot physically go and challenge the certification or IRS decision at the IRS Appeals, you may contact the IRS Notice CP508C phone number to request certification reversal.

This has not happened to me, but the thought of it haunts me enough. How do I prevent this from happening to me?

You should have received plenty of notices from the IRS before reaching the “seriously delinquent” stage. Remember, the more you respond and continue a dispute, your tax debt will not finalize. If you receive an IRS Notice of Proposed Deficiency / Examination Report:

  1. Prepare a protest BEFORE the deadline
  2. You’ll be prompted to visit the IRS Appeals Office, where you’ll then have an opportunity to resolve the issue once and for all
  3. If you cannot resolve the issue (or fail to protest altogether), the IRS will send you a Notice of Deficiency
  4. Finally, you’ll have 90 days to file in the U.S. Tax Court. Click here for tips on how to respond to an IRS Notice.

HOW TO SAVE YOUR HEARING ON TOUR

HOW TO SAVE YOUR HEARING ON TOUR

THURSDAY // JANUARY 4, 2018

All good things come to an end - including your hearing if you fail to take proper precautions. Why do we work in this industry? We love live music. Working in this industry allows you to hear live music closer than any concert-goer. The ultimate experience. 

Unfortunately, the sound-reinforcement workplace is not regulated, reported Sarah Jones of Live Design. More specifically, sound engineers are at serious risk as they feel pressured to create the loudest show possible.

In fact, the live entertainment industry ranked number six on Health 24's "The 10 Worst Jobs for Your Ears" list, adjacent to careers in operating heavy machinery.

While working in the live music industry doesn’t allow for much personal time, personal safety and health should never be placed on the back burner. We’re not talking about the common cold - damaging your hearing aggregates and is permanent. Here are some warning signs and tips to prevent hearing loss before it’s far too late.

Identify the problem

Before attempting to diagnose yourself, it is vital to get a hearing test. After receiving the facts, you’ll know the foundation you stand on to further protect yourself accordingly.

Benj Kanters, an audio professional at Columbia College who continues to raise hearing loss awareness in the industry, told Jones the benefits of using products to monitor SPLs (sound pressure levels) by determining dangerous audio levels in live-time.

Specifically, Kanters refers to the Trend system, a hardware and software solution with the ability to measure, log and report SPLs, allowing the production team to adjust to safe volumes.

While professionals may suggest the Trend system, that measures SPLs over the duration of a show, it may not be the most practical method for sound engineers to adopt.

Mixing with plugs? No way!

Kanters explains the common issue sound engineers experience with the inability to hear detail while mixing with plugs. He suggests fixing the detail and immediately putting the plugs back in.

Michael Santucci, an audiologist with 30 years of experience in training live music industry workers in hearing loss prevention, suggested alternate mixing techniques to comply with hearing protection.

Unfortunately, while learning to mix dynamically with subtractive mixing takes practice, nothing depends on hearing loss prevention, but rather the engineer’s abilities and what the band wants, Santucci told Jones.

Common Misconceptions

Jones reveals the common misconception among industry professionals who believe P.A. systems emitting low distortion are completely safe. Santucci explains the FOH technology actually allows a cleaner sound and masks volumes detrimental to hearing.  

Another conundrum, Jones adds, is the in-ear monitor musicians use - but will turn up anyway. The purpose is defeated, and you will remain at risk.

Santucci’s research proves it: 95 percent turn on ear monitors matching the exactly same volume as floor monitors, Jones reports.

Things that alleviate hearing damage but won’t prevent or cure it?

  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Muscle training

A Louder Awareness

Hearing loss is a growing epidemic. According to MusiCares  of the Recording Academy, the number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled between 2000 and 2015, and globally, the number is 44 percent.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), about 18 percent of adults 20-69 experience hearing loss in both ears from reportedly working 5 or more years in a noise-induced working environment.

Jones reports on the growing number of resources educating live music industry workers:

  • The Audio Engineering Society continues to spread awareness of noise-induced hearing loss in the industry, and has held multiple tutorials and workshops on the topic. Their 3rd annual AES International Conference will occur at Columbia College in Chicago on June 20-22, 2018. Click here for more information.
  • MusiCares offers hearing clinics with complimentary ear impressions and custom musician earplugs for all attendees. Their website offers a plethora of educational articles you can visit here.  

BEST TOURS OF 2017

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BEST TOURS OF 2017

WEDNESDAY // DECEMBER 20, 2017

With 2017 coming to an end, it's only natural to gear up for some of the most anticipated tours coming to our cities in 2018. Although some of us might want to close the door on 2017 and never look back, 2017 was a year for some of the best tours in the music industry.

From saying goodbye to Tom Petty to breaking our necks at a Metallica concert - here are a few notable tours of 2017 we won't ever forget. 

Tom Petty’s 40th Anniversary Tour

Tom Petty’s death sent shockwaves across the music industry after his cardiac arrest in October 2017. Considering his 40th Anniversary Tour ended just one week before his passing marks this as one of the most memorable tours of 2017 as we say goodbye to a music legend. Last December, Petty actually told Rolling Stone, “I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was thinking this might be the last big one.”

Petty seemed overjoyed to be on stage, especially performing at his hometown show.  The band performed their 1985 hit “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” an all-time Heartbreakers song during the band’s career. The band’s members consisted of keyboardist Benmont Tench, bassist Ron Blair, guitarist Mike Campbell, and 24-year old addition drummer Steve Ferrone.

Lighting designer/director and set designer Stanley A. Green upped the ante with the show’s 160 winch balls or orbs, creating an immersive effect on stage, according to PLSN. Technical director Kevin Cassidy mentioned Tom Petty’s humorous desire to feel like he’s inside of a lava lamp.

Petty went bigger with his last tour with video screens, including a 60 foot wide LED screen filled with minimal I-Mag video content and London-based Treatment Visual Productions, all programmed by Green, PLSN reported. The huge backdrop combined with the color-changing orbs lit up the stage for his very last tour in history.

U2: The Joshua Tree Tour

U2 revived its 1987 The Joshua Tree album, the band’s fifth album, with a concept relying on nostalgia but also complete relevance in wake of the 2016 election. The album was written during the Reagan-Thatcher era of British and U.S. policies, including Thatcher trying to put down a miners’ strike, wrote Sarah Larson of The New Yorker. Roger Waters is another artist who had touched on social justice-themed tour earlier this year. U2 felt their 1987 album became more relevant than it would have 3-4 years ago, Bono told Rolling Stone.

And, the 50-show tour was a major hit, earning a whopping $316 million with more than 2.5 million tickets sold, Billboard reported. The tour included fan favorites “Where the Streets Have No Name,” and “With or Without You.” Band manager Guy Oseary expressed his privilege in being a part of the epic tour, originally meant for the band to perform only one show, according to Billboard.

The band went big on production, with Anton Corbijin as the photographer and film director - the band’s creative source for 30 years, wrote PLSN. U2 revamped their performance with new technologies from PRG’s Spaceframe and a 4k broadcast camera system in its 87-inch stadium design.
 

Green Day

Green Day’s epic Revolution Radio Tour showed off their first album in four years. Revolution Radio released in 2016. The pop-punk trio came back stronger than ever with 12 albums underneath their belt, with the same energy the band had brought since the beginning.

Fan favorites took over the crowd, like “Holiday,” “Minority,” “Good Riddance,” and so much more, but the band played new hits “ Still Breathing,” and “Bang Bang.” Another highly political tour, Armstrong preached unity, adding rock ‘n roll can change the world in standing up to bullies, Billboard said.

The band went bigger on lighting rather than video assist, which was only present on the side screens for IMAG, PLSN wrote. Along with lighting, designed by Ethan Weber and directed by Tommy Horton, the band wanted to incorporate pyro into a few of their songs, provided by ffp Special Effects.

The band rethought drum risers and decided to incorporate 190 light bulbs into the step units, along with the circus-style Green Day marquee boasting 729 RGBW LED lamps, both fabricated by Gallagher Staging & Productions. View the full production crew here.  

Metallica

The heavy metal band pleased the crowd with their biggest tour yet -- and yes -- our necks still falling off from the headbangers. For the first time in 20 years, Metallica performed an American tour, and what they brought to the table definitely made up for it. Fan favorites “Seek and Destroy,” “Fade to Black,” “One”, and encored with thrashers “Battery,” “Nothing Else Matters,” and “Enter Sandman.”

Lighting director and designer Rob Koenig worked with show director and set designer Dan Braun to come up with a lighting design easily compatible with an 175 foot emissive video surface - one of the largest video surfaces ever used on a tour, PLSN reported. Along with lights and video, the tour called for two large inflatable balls, lasers, explosions, sparkle cannons and a fire screen spewing 300-foot comets.

Metallica’s Mammoth WorldWired Tour is said to be their biggest production ever, according to Rolling Stone. Each show generates enough power that 1,800 homes use for one month’s duration. Details:

  • -3 days to set up
  • -48 trucks
  • -over 350,000 watts of audio
  • -83 laser fixtures on stage (640 hours to program)
  • -40,000 speakers

The Lumineers

The ever-so-humbling Lumineers exploded back in 2013 with the folky rock ‘n roll band’s hit song “Ho Hey,” and haven’t stopped growing since. The Colorado natives’ 2017 Cleopatra World Tour - and with a great response. The Lumineers ranked No.14 on Pollstar's first quarter of the year worldwide ticket sales at $234,184.

They’re up there with Green Day, Bruce Springsteen, Guns N’ Roses and more. You can feel the band’s intimate performance from any seat in the venue as they connect with the audience through Wesley Schultz's vocals, piano, acoustic guitars and tambourine led hits.

The Cleopatra World Tour boasted an aesthetic Cathedral style design to match a growing audience, which means a growing space for performances. Lighting designers Sooner Routhier and Robert Long worked on creating various visuals to match the “stories” of the show - switching from acoustic songs to full-band performances, wrote PLSN.  

One of the best audience surprises had to be the B-Stage, where everyone in the back had a chance to literally touch the stage as if they were in the pit.

Guns N Roses

After some rocky band turmoil in 2016, Guns N Roses was back and better than ever to rock their 2017 18-month tour. In fact, their three shows in November 2017 all sold out seats at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

According to LA Weekly, the band opened with another version of “It’s So Easy” before beginning their 3.5 hour long set without leaving a single hit out. Guitarist Axl Rose stole the show and kept his vocals strong throughout. Memorable and emotional moments include the band giving tribute to Glen Campbell, Malcolm Young and Chris Cornell.

 

TOP ANTICIPATED TOURS OF 2017

TOP ANTICIPATED TOURS OF 2017

Summer is officially here and what better way to fill up your social calendar than with the top anticipated concerts and tours of the season. Some big names are getting back on the road after being on a hiatus, while other artists are dropping new music with a scheduled tour on the way. Regardless of what your music tastes are, there’s a live show for everyone.

THE MOST ANTICIPATED TOURS & FESTIVALS OF 2016

THE MOST ANTICIPATED TOURS & FESTIVALS OF 2016

While 2015 was filled with amazing shows, it is time to say hello to bigger and better things in 2016! From Adele’s sold out tour to a Guns N’ Roses reunion to Rihanna’s long-delayed album Anti, we can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store. So we’ve put together a list of the most anticipated Tours and Festivals of 2016 to help you jump on a gig and get on the road....

TAYLOR SWIFT RAISES THE BAR ON HOW CREW SHOULD BE TREATED

TAYLOR SWIFT RAISES THE BAR ON HOW CREW SHOULD BE TREATED

It isn’t common to hear praise for the crew silently working in the background. The better the crew are at their jobs, the less anyone notices them.  But they aren’t invisible just because they always wear black and stick to the shadows backstage. That’s why we were ecstatic this morning to hear that Taylor Swift is taking her 125-person crew on a vacation to celebrate the end of her 1989 World Tour...