It’s October, and already this year I’ve written three separate times about the power and community that comes from seeing musicians live in concert.
So what do I say in response to the massacre in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, where at least 59 people were killed and more than 500 were injured while attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival?
This isn’t the first time concerts and music venues have been the site of violence, as most of us are all too aware. There was the 2015 attack in Paris, where 130 people were killed at an Eagles Of Death Metal show at La Bataclan theater, and in 2016, 49 people were killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
The Las Vegas shooting isn’t even the only music attack of 2017. In May, 22 people were killed and 59 injured when a bomb exploded at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, while in July, 28 people were wounded by gunfire exchanges at rapper Finesse 2Tymes ‘ concert in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Any location where this kind of senseless loss of life happens, whether it’s a school, movie theater, restaurant or military base, is the worst kind of assault on our feelings of safety. But there’s something particularly insidious about bringing death to an event that’s meant to be a celebration.
As someone who has lost count of how many concerts he’s attended in his life, that’s really what I think live music is all about — celebrating our favorite artists, and the joy, tears and understanding the music brought into our lives. Also, it is the fact that there are other people in the world who feel the same as we do. That really is one of my favorite things about music — to let you know that somewhere, at some time, at least one other person felt exactly how you do, and was brave enough to share that with the world.
I’ve gone to concerts with friends and family, and created some of my favorite memories. And I’ve gone to concerts where I didn’t know a single person, and left feeling like a special bond had been created with everyone there.
I honestly can’t remember the last concert I regretted attending, no matter how expensive tickets were, how terrible my seats were, or how tired I was the following day.
Perhaps that’s what these attackers hate, as critic and author Steven Hyden wrote for Uproxx, following the Las Vegas attack.
“These individuals see the rest of us being moved by art to dance, drink, laugh, and cry with people we’ve never met, and they view it as weakness. And they exploit that weakness to either kill us or frighten us back to our homes, our devices, and our closed-off belief systems,” he wrote.
But I still don’t know how to get my mind around what happened in Las Vegas. Or Arkansas. Or Manchester. Or Orlando. Or Paris.
Things are going to change at concerts, especially since we as a country seem incapable of enacting any kind of meaningful gun control legislation.
Following the Manchester attack, Steve Knopper wrote in Rolling Stone magazine about new security options venues are considering, including vapor sniffing dogs, anti-drone technologies, social media monitoring and smartphone body cameras.
“’To this point, security has been about crowd management, but now there has to be terrorism (prevention) built into the concert,’ says Bill Bratton, the former New York police commissioner who is the executive chairman of Prevent Advisors, which consults dozens of arenas, including Madison Square Garden and the L.A. Forum,” Knopper wrote.
I want to say be bold, and add that letting these madmen affect how you experience music or concerts in any way is exactly what they want. I want to tell you to not be afraid, to not hesitate about going to see your favorite musician.
But I can’t guarantee I won’t be afraid before going to my next show, or hesitate when it comes to buying a ticket.
What I can guarantee is none of the problems we face as a society that push people to these actions are going to be mended by closing ourselves off in fear. So, if I have to deal with some fear and anxiety to reestablish that connection, it’s worth it.
Because connection is the only way we’re going to get through this.
Clarke Reader’s column on how music connects to our lives appears every other week. A community editor with Colorado Community Media, he encourages you to help the victims of Las Vegas in any way you can. Check out his music blog at calmacil20.blogspot.com. And share why you love going to concerts at firstname.lastname@example.org.