In an unusual move, reps for the club's owners, Lagardère Unlimited Live Entertainment, a division of Lagardère SCA, recently invited victims and families affected by the attack to tour the reconstruction in a continuing effort to rebuild their lives. One survivor, Alexis Lebrun, who hid under bodies for two hours and eventually managed to escape the melee, has sworn off live music altogether. "I'm a different man now," says the 27-year-old native of Paris suburb Massy.
That view should have French promoters concerned, but the prevailing sentiment seems to be closer to one adopted by survivors association Life for Paris. "We learn to enjoy life a bit more every day. ... We don't need to hide," member Lydia Vassalo told Newsweek.
Indeed, other venue owners are pointing to an unspoken bond between concertgoers and those behind the scenes. "Everybody is sticking together," says Renaud Barillet, CEO of La Bellevilloise (capacity 1,200) and two smaller downtown venues, adding that audiences are showing few signs of impatience during mandatory pat-downs and bag checks. Adds Laurent Sabatier, manager of Les Docks de Paris, a Saint-Denis venue with three event spaces, and a member of Prodiss, the main organization of club owners and promoters: "What was a drag got friendly and relaxed -- and faster."
Still, the industry has a ways to go. Security experts have been inspecting venues all over France to assess their preparedness. "We used to get training on fire hazards or brawls between skinheads and punks at a hardcore gig; we basically have to learn a new job," says Sabatier, comparing live music's learning curve with that of the airline industry's in the early 2000s.
And they're educating customers, too. Venues have launched several PR campaigns -- among them #PlusQueJamais ("more than ever") -- and distributed fliers of dos and don'ts. Plus, Parisians are considering more tangible changes, "like enlarging the pavement and adding barriers or obstacles, such as big flower pots to prevent ram-raids," says Sabatier. "Nobody wants to change a club into an airport hall," says Benoit Maume, artistic director of Silencio, a David Lynch-designed private club, and former staffer at Nouveau Casino located near the Bataclan.
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At the same time, awareness of being a "soft target" for terrorism has had an impact. "Security costs have increased by an average of 30 percent for venues," says Sabatier. So far, the bills are only partly covered by a government fund of €4 million ($4.5 million) that is quickly being depleted (the industry asked for €50 million at minimum). "In case of a possible attack, or after a prank call -- a promoter's worst nightmare -- what should a promoter do? What if I cancel my event because of a threat or if an attack occurs miles away? Will I be covered? These are tough questions."
For many venues, more bad news arose after the Bataclan tragedy: Local insurance companies had modified contractual terms in January 2015 after the attack at newspaper Charlie Hebdo, so it had already become harder -- and pricier -- to insure an event. Some promoters are turning to international brokers to find better deals.An insider says it has become increasingly difficult to book American bands: "To put it bluntly, they are fine with avoiding France for their European summer tour." But John Reid, president of European concerts for Live Nation, takes issue with that characterization, telling Billboard: "Not true. Everyone is routed through Paris, and even some regional shows in France this summer."
Matthew Caws, frontman for veteran indie band Nada Surf, who performed two shows in the city in April and are one of the first acts booked to perform at the reopened Bataclan on Dec. 2, sees a greater purpose in playing Paris. "We're not nervous about playing there in the same way we weren't nervous being in New York after 9/11," he says. "We want to help contribute to a sense of life continuing as it did before, and in the same spirit, [Bataclan] is our favorite venue in Paris. We want to help people have a good time and bring positive intentions, which stand in opposition to fear."
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In England, there's a similar sentiment. "Security is a fine balance -- you have to provide reassurance so people feel safe, comfortable and happy to come, but you don't want to make security such a big concern that it prohibits their ability to enjoy themselves," says Rebecca Kane Burton, GM at London's O2 Arena. "That's the tightrope we walk, but we're still doing 200 performances a year. We open the building as much as we can."
But Maume offers a different view. "If the terrorists' motive was spreading fear, they've already won," he says, noting that even his own nights out have been marred. "My first reflex is checking an emergency exit."
Adds Sabatier: "People get it. We are no longer living in an emergency situation, but still at the beginning of a long, substantive process. We know the menace is here to stay."
Additional reporting by Richard Smirke and Ray Waddell. This article was originally published in the April 30 issue of Billboard.