Are music festivals safe? | Music | DW

After the many difficult pandemic months, it has been a blessing for music fans to finally be able to see their favorite artists live again and dance together in a crowd. But in the United States, what should have been a reckless event has taken a deadly turn.

At least eight people died in a wave of crowds on Friday at a concert by rapper Travis Scott at the Astroworld Festival, a music festival he started in Houston, Texas. Investigations are underway to determine the precise cause of the incident.

Germany experienced a great tragedy at a music festival in 2010. That year, 21 people died and 652 were injured during the Love Parade, an electronic music festival in Duisburg, in the west. of Germany. The cause was the overcrowding of an access tunnel, with too many people pushing into the small space. The recent incident in Texas brought chaos to the fore.

A similar incident took place in 2000 at a music festival in Roskilde, Denmark, during a Pearl Jam concert. As more and more spectators attempted to approach the stage, the entire audience was compelled to get in motion, relentlessly pushing those in front. Many fans ended up being trampled on. Nine people were killed and many more were injured.

The area in front of the stage after the murderous influx of crowds at the Pearl Jam concert in Roskilde, Denmark

Change in festival culture

The impact of the Danish disaster was considerable. In the following years, the festival made major improvements to its security measures, including implementing cordoned off security zones, paved surfaces, and more in-depth training for security personnel. Today, Roskilde’s security measures are considered among the best in the world and have been adopted by many other big events.

Being led by a crowd through a festival site or concert hall was considered normal at rock concerts in the 1990s. Today, however, this is a thing of the past, thanks to the practice of segregating areas of the city. audience in different areas. This prevents people in the front from being pushed into the scene by the crowd behind them.

Fans bow their heads and cry at memorial concert for Roskilde victims

In 2010, a concert was organized in memory of those who died at the Roskilde Festival ten years earlier

New awareness

Ernst-Ludwig Hartz is a concert organizer who, since the 1980s, has been responsible for large concerts with up to 65,000 participants. Hartz told DW that security was a top priority from the very beginning of his career, adding that long before Roskilde’s tragedy he had to meet strict security requirements to get permission for his events.

Roskilde sparked much discussion between Hartz and her colleagues. “We asked ourselves if we are doing everything right, what can we do better,” he said. Hartz also believes viewers’ consciousness has changed since then and audience members now care more about each other.

Fans wave their hands in the air during a concert at the Roskilde festival

The Roskilde Festival (above, in 2019) is now a model of security measures for concerts

Keep the risks as low as possible

Following the deadly crushing crowd in Roskilde, security requirements in Germany have been tightened and Hartz said new measures are constantly being developed.

There is no such thing as an infallible guarantee of safety when masses of people are in one place. But organizers today have many more tools at their disposal to keep crowd risks as low as possible – hopefully without destroying the vibe of the concert or preventing spectators from enjoying being in a crowd. .

What exactly caused the fatal incident in Texas and whether the organizers were legally negligent will not be known until investigators have completed their work. But November 5, 2021 has already become a tragic day in the history of music festivals.

Pearl Jam did not perform at festivals for years after the Roskilde disaster. Today, at each concert, the group has made an immutable ritual to ask its audience to be considerate and careful.

This article has been translated from the German original.

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