Most of us will (hopefully) never have to endure a gig where there’s a shooting, a bombing or some other kind of horrific violence. The sad truth, though, is that when we go to a show today, we’re all soft targets for some psycho with a grudge or mission.
We’re used to the security searches, the metal detectors, the extra cops. And if that’s what takes to keep us safe, so be it. This is today’s reality.
But there are still incidents. The Route 91 festival concert massacre in Las Vegas. The Pulse nightclub. The Manchester bombing. Bataclan. There are deaths, casualties and terribly shaken survivors.
Pitchfork takes a look at the lot of survivors.
People go to concerts in order to live. We trek to nightclubs to absorb waves of rhythm that wash away the week’s worries. We spend entire paychecks on festival passes to stand in a massive crowd of strangers and feel bigger than ourselves. If only for a moment, there’s simply the music, and an enveloping sense of community. Perhaps it is this inherent vulnerability—and the joy that comes with it—that has led terrorists to target such gatherings across the last three years. Beyond destroying innocent lives, these attacks intend to dismantle the very idea of music as a safe haven.
Since November 2015, four music events around the world have been transformed into massacres. First, there was the city-wide terrorist attack in Paris that reached its bullet-strewn denouement at an Eagles of Death Metal concert at the famed Bataclan theater. Seven months later, a gay club in Orlando, Florida called Pulse became a nightmare when a shooter opened fire during a Latin night celebration. On May 22, 2017, a suicide bomber turned an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England into a site of chaos and horror. Then, last October, a lone gunman concealed high in the Las Vegas sky took aim at attendees of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. Across all four events, a total of 219 lives were lost, and those who made it out alive were suddenly faced with a horrifying new reality in which unspeakable violence is possible anywhere.
Lives are altered in countless ways after these tragedies, including how survivors interact with and think about music itself. Because ultimately, music united these people of various ages, races, and backgrounds, and the significance of that cannot be overlooked. In their own words, seven individuals who attended these events consider how their relationship with music has changed.