Music festivals under new scrutiny for crowd safety after Astroworld tragedy

The organizers of Day N Vegas, Electric Daisy Carnival and Welcome to Rockville did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment if they are revamping security procedures in the wake of what happened at the Astroworld Festival in Houston.

Public officials, law enforcement and first responders in Las Vegas have met several times this week to discuss crowd safety at this weekend’s festival, said Officer Larry Hadfield, door – spoken by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

“We’ve had meetings about it. It’s part of our planning,” said Hadfield, who added that Day N Vegas is relatively small compared to other music festivals in town. “We take into account what has happened, look at contingency plans, take all of those things into consideration, and prepare for scenarios, such as what happens if something becomes unsafe.”

In the United States, authorities say they are determined to prevent another tragedy

A record 225,000 electronic dance music fans showed up for Orlando’s last Electric Daisy Carnival in 2019. The city is also expecting big revelers for this weekend’s three-day event.

Orlando officials told CNN that the city is evaluating similar live events happening elsewhere and adjusting its staff accordingly. He said he had enough security and medical personnel to cover the festival, but declined to provide details on the plans.

“The Orlando Police and Fire Department are constantly monitoring trends and adjustments are made as necessary. Safety and medical support measures will be put in place,” the city said in a statement. “The safety and security of our visitors and residents remains our number one priority.”

Hadfield of Las Vegas also declined to say whether the Astroworld tragedy forced the LVPD to rethink security details. But he assured festival-goers the city will have plenty of resources at this weekend’s festival, as well as contingency plans with other jurisdictions in case they need more. He urged attendees to take it easy with alcohol and report officials if anything does not seem right.

In Daytona Beach, the Volusia Sheriff’s Office said it was working with local, state and federal partners to keep Welcome to Rockville, a four-day rock festival run by Metallica, safe. Event organizers have recruited local law enforcement officers to work at Daytona International Speedway, where the event takes place.

“In addition to the planning meetings that have already taken place, we have a detailed plan of operations in place for this event,” said Andrew Gant, spokesperson for the sheriff’s office. “Without going into the specific aspects of the security plan, our agencies are well prepared to handle large crowds.

“Everyone involved is well aware of the tragic events in Houston and is committed to preventing anything like this from happening here.”

Experts say lessons can be learned from Astroworld

Security experts urge organizers to use the Houston tragedy as a good time to learn.

Peter Eliadis, a former law enforcement official, said Astroworld will be used as a case study for years on what happens when an event goes wrong.

“The lessons learned will be applied and incorporated into future planning across the country,” said Eliadis, founder of Intelligence Consulting Partners, which helps plan large-scale events in the United States and abroad. “This includes a stronger contribution from firefighters / EMS and law enforcement at the planning stage of an event. “

City officials and concert organizers need to take into account artists’ past performances and decide whether those who attract unruly behavior from the crowd are welcome at their events, he said.

Travis Scott performs at the Astroworld Festival on Friday, November 5, 2021 at NRG Park in Houston.

“Their decision should incorporate safety and not just the initial financial gain that a concert will bring,” he said, adding that lawsuits over the Astroworld tragedy could drain promoters’ profits.

Officials must be able to halt or stop a concert quickly if it compromises safety, Eliadis said.

Paul Wertheimer, founder of the consulting firm Crowd Management Strategies, takes a more cynical point of view.

“This incident is a repeat of past incidents,” he said, citing other events where bystanders have died. “Every time event organizers and promoters get a wake-up call, they hit the snooze button. They won’t learn anything. It sounds negative and cynical, but it’s true. They say whatever it is. they have to, but they never do the right thing. “

To avoid more deaths, many changes must occur, Wertheimer said, including stricter event licenses, mandatory crowd safety courses for promoters, and national standards for concert management.

“At the moment, you have no idea what’s safe and what isn’t,” he said.

Small festival organizer accuses big events of saving money

An organizer of the Freakout Festival, a four-day event underway this weekend in Seattle, said its concerts attracted around 2,000 people a day, a small number compared to most music festivals.

The intimate scale gives event managers greater control over security, said Guy Keltner, co-founder of the festival. He said he knew his security team by name.

Deadly crowd influxes have been occurring for decades.  Safety standards exist, but they are not mandatory nationally

“We always take care of the people among us and never feel threatened by this stuff,” he said. “I have a team that I trust. We hire people that we trust. We tend to have a very alert staff and are in constant communication. And safety on stage is always a priority.”

Live Nation Entertainment, the concert promoter that hosted the Astroworld festival, has been cited a dozen times for numerous safety concerns, according to records. The company said it was “heartbroken” about Astroworld and is cooperating with authorities as they investigate why the event has turned deadly.

Keltner accused larger events of mismanagement and shortening, and said he hopes the Astroworld tragedy will pressure organizers to rethink the way they operate.

“We’ve seen this happen for years,” Keltner said. “We’ll see if any new regulation follows or if the company reacts in a way that seems genuine and not just” how do we deal with bad public relations. “”

Some changes are already underway

Some cities have already started to implement changes. Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp., said the city is revamping security for its upcoming New Years events.

“We never had this law enforcement person on stage (at live music events). And while I was reading and watching the commentary on that event, and what the responsibility was – Travis Scott should – cancel or stop the show? – that was a quick reminder – this is when you need the visible presence of law enforcement, ”Spyridon said.

Rolling Loud Miami Festival Day 3 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on July 25, 2021.

“So this will be the first conversation we have with our police department. We want someone on stage… who is also in contact with the central command of the event.”

City officials are also planning to change their contracts with event promoters, adding a clause that gives them the right to postpone, delay or cancel an event based on feedback from first responders and emergency personnel.

“So there isn’t even a question of who has authority,” Spyridon said.

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