Can Music Venues Keep Us Safe?

  • Lucy Kent

A magazine article written 10/12/2018 about music venues and their responsibility to fan safety in regards to death at a Bring Me the Horizon show.

The Sheffield band Bring Me the Horizon have expressed their “horror” at the death of a fan during their second sold out show at a North London venue on November 30th. The fan was pronounced dead at the scene after a London emergency ambulance was called to the venue. When the news broke on social media people flocked to tweet their concern and speculate over the cause of death. After initial reports stated the fan died in a mosh-pit or of a fatal heart attack questions of fan safety were raised. Many blamed the venue, citing a lack of security staff and overcrowding. There are certain unspoken rules at shows like Bring Me the Horizon, you pick up people in mosh pits that have fallen over, stay on the side-lines if unsure, pick involvement and do not push those who are not willing, into the pit. A mosh pit is not an opportunity for personal violence. Gig-goers and moshers use these guidelines amongst themselves to stay safe, but when is it not enough and when do venues need to step in? Concert culture is now more of than an important issue than ever. Following the attack at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester last year, venues need to go above and beyond to ensure safety of fans. Some twitter users that were at the concert on November 30 wrote that there were only nine security guards working at the barricade despite there being a crowd of 10,000 and were blaming venue event staff for the death of the fan. Alexandra Palace did issue a statement on December 1, the morning after the concert, tweeting out their condolences and remarks on the safety of the event. The account posted “We would like to clarify that this was a tragic medical incident and unrelated to the extensive security measures in place. However we feel we must address inaccurate information. There were over 150 security personnel on site for the concert.” Despite this statement, this tragic death has called into question the safety of attendees at concerts of this size. Can fans trust venues to keep them safe? There have been no further updates on Alexander Palace’s safety policy since the death and some fans still doubt the legitimacy of the statement. At concerts of this size, to ensure their own personal safety fans should alert any venue staff if they begin to feel ill, and if possible, to move away from barricades and the beginnings of mosh pits if anticipating a lack of safety or personal anxieties. Concerts and alcohol go hand in hand, but venues advise responsible drinking and staying hydrated especially in large crowds. To empower their gig-goers US band Modern Baseball set up a fan safety hotline that attendees could text if feeling unsafe, following Speedy Ortiz’s use of this measure at their gigs in 2015. Safe Gigs for Girls, a collective started in 2017, is an initiative started by gig-goers to help establish better safety policies at shows with a specific focus on sexual assault and harassment to make shows a safe space. Similarly, Girls that Gig aim to put on events that are regulated and work with fans to get involved in producing safe event spaces. Whilst some fans criticise ‘over-policing’ of shows leading to the death of the gig experience and the decline in mosh-pits, events like BMTH’s show remind us that personal safety is paramount and should be a priority for concert venues and fans. Venues need to take the initiative on attendee’s safety, whether it be through increasing barrier staff, hiring more security for events, having ambulances nearer to the scene or more medical tents. Gig-goers should be able to have life changing experiences at concerts, but within a safe and regulated space, otherwise, the gig scene really will die out.

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