With each new deadly assault on concerts, we are forced to shift our reality a little more. After the Ariana Grande attack in Manchester it was hardening the perimeter around concert halls and with the Bataclan massacre in Paris in 2015 it was figuring out how to keep crazed assailants from entering a venue during a show.
And now, with Sunday’s horrific attack on innocent concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas — the worst mass shooting in modern American history — it’s the truly unthinkable: stopping a madman from renting a hotel room near an open-air, urban festival who is intent on raining bullets down on fans from hundreds of yards away.
Those are the challenges facing promoters as they move forward with upcoming events in the wake of Sunday’s unthinkable toll, which at press time included 59 dead and more than 527 injured. Most immediately, they will be considerations on the minds of C3 Presents and Live Nation, the promoters behind the upcoming Austin City Limits Festival in Austin, Texas’ Zilker Park. (LN, which purchased C3 in 2014, is also the promoter for the Route 91 Festival).
The two-weekend event, which takes place in a 350-acre grassy expanse at the junction of the Colorado River and Barton Creek near the city’s downtown, will kick off on Friday. The fest will feature headlining sets from JAY-Z, Martin Garrix, the XX and Ryan Adams, and continue through the weekend with more than 100 acts, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chance the Rapper, Ice Cube, The Killers, Gorillaz and Run the Jewels.
While a spokesperson for the festival was not available for comment at press time, a statement from C3 Presents assured patrons that the show’s producers have their safety in mind as they prepare for the event:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our colleagues and everyone in Las Vegas who was affected by this terrible tragedy.
Safety has always been our top priority. Our staff and security team works year-round with the Austin Police Department, Austin Fire Department, Austin-Travis County EMS, and other authorities to plan and rehearse security and response plans. Over the years, tighter security measures have been implemented at ACL Fest including a layered security plan that includes elements that are seen and unseen, as well as pat downs, bag searches and size limits, and an enhanced security and law enforcement presence inside and outside the festival.”
ACL will also take place over the Oct. 13-15 weekend.
Another, small-scale festival taking place this weekend, the 12th annual world music-based Joshua Tree Music Festival (Oct. 5-8) in thg Mojave Desert in Joshua Tree, California, sent an email to attendees on Monday acknowledging the tragedy and vowing to use music as as form of healing. “Our deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to the families and loved ones,” it read. “We yearn for the day when quality mental health care programs are infinitely more accessible than automatic weapons. Time to reach out and take care of one another.”
The note ended with the fest’s bold-font message: “The Desert is Freedom, Music is Power and Community is Crucial.”