Jon Loba, exec VP for BBR Music Group, home to Jason Aldean and Adam Craig, was not in Las Vegas Sunday night when his acts played the Route 91 Harvest Festival. But from the time the shooting began on the Las Vegas Strip, he was in contact with two BBR staffers at the event [whose names Billboard decided not to reveal], Craig and Aldean’s security force. He relays his experience to Billboard as he lived the terror with his staff and artists long distance
I was living in real time with a couple of them on the phone and it was horrifying from 1,500 miles away. I cannot imagine in person what it was like. While they are physically OK, there’s no doubt that they’ll have psychological scars and be dealing with this for a while mentally, but we’re blessed that they’re still here and with us.
Three staffers were on the side of the stage. There was so much confusion going on [when the shooting began], they didn’t necessarily run where the artist was and the rest of the stage crew, they went in a different direction. One of them told me, like everyone, it took them a moment to realize what was happening. They thought it was fireworks. When they realized what was happening, they went into survival mode and ran. One said there was blood all over and bodies falling.
I haven’t spoken to Jason or [Aldean’s manager], Clarence Spalding. We’ve traded texts and emails, but I didn’t want to add to the volume of everything that was hitting them. I told [Aldean’s security guy], ‘Let’s just you and I communicate.’ [Jason] needed to be with [his wife] Brittany and make sure that she was settled. She’s seven months pregnant so they didn’t want anything to add to the stress. My understanding was they were in lock down, protection mode, and the plan was to get out at the airport as soon as flights could depart. Once they knew they had him in a safe environment, they didn’t want them to move. Between [Live Nation’s] Brian O’Connell and his security staff and the Las Vegas law enforcement, they were well taken care of and protected. I haven’t heard anything about the status of Jason’s Friday show [at the Los Angeles Forum]. I don’t know if that’s even been broached yet. I imagine in the next 24-48 hours that decision will be made. Today it’s all about those victims. We’ll figure out where to go from there.
We’ll give [our staff and artists] whatever support they need. We’ll absolutely provide for them. In the moment, they both seem to be doing OK, but I just want to make sure they have support all the way through. They ran a mile and half away from the venue and managed to talk an Uber driver into giving them a ride. Adam was out at the soundboard watching Jason. He was with everyone else, running with the crowd, checking on people as he could. They’d go one place, and from my understanding, people would hide and then they’d run to another. Just terrifying.
Can we stop this? To the credit of most major promoters, all of our management team and our staff, they prepare the best that they possibly could for security threats [but] you can’t protect every one at every moment. It’s an absolute tragedy. Do I think it will stop artists wanting to perform? No. Will it stop listeners wanting to go have that experience? No. Especially not in this genre.