At 2 AM on October 2nd, I woke up to let my dogs out. As I was sitting on the couch waiting for them to do their business, I turned on the TV. Every station was running news about a mass shooting in Vegas. Intently I watched as they reported more and more people either injured or dead.
Shock passed over me.
I was supposed to go to Vegas in 2 weeks, but the plans were canceled.
I was supposed to go to Vegas for a concert, just like the site of this mass shooting
Now, it appeared that fate had intervened for a reason.
Becoming more and more engrossed in the story, I was extremely troubled by what had happened.
This is the latest in a string of shootings at concerts. Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan, Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena, and now a festival in Las Vegas.
As each shooting happens, I feel my anxiety rise about going to concerts. I attend, on average, 3-4 concerts a month. I start to become fearful of venues, afraid of those around me, and nervously plot out escape routes in my head.
But why? Not that we will ever understand WHY someone would commit such an atrocious act, but why concert venues? Concerts are meant to help people relax and escape from everyday frustrations. They are not something that a civilized society should be afraid of.
Until October 2nd, there had not been a mass shooting at a concert in the United States. Yes, we saw France and the UK, but never the gun-loving US.
Eagles of Death Metal and the Bataclan
The bombing at the Bataclan during the EODM concert struck me as odd. If you have ever heard or seen the Eagles of Death Metal perform, you know that they are not the most “violent” of bands. In fact, their schtick is very tongue-in-cheek. As I watched Nos Amis (Our Friends), I saw the toll that this horrid event took on the band and the fans. But even more amazing was the resilience of the band and fans. The tight community of people rallied together to protect and save one another. Even more amazing, the Eagles of Death metal did not let this stop them. They returned and finished the concert a year later. They honored the tickets of those who attended the original concert. They proved that even the scariest and most catastrophic of events would not silence their music.
On May 22nd, a suicide bomber injured 100+ fans and killed 22. I was honestly slightly apathetic about the Ariana Grande bombing. Until I found out the ages of some of the victims. It tore at my heartstrings that such young fans had to experience such a horrendous event. What bothered me even more about the incident was that Ariana Grande left England. Instead of staying and trying to console her fans, she sought solace at home. But she is only 24 years old. How can she possibly know what is better for her PR image? And why isn’t she allowed to find comfort where she wants?
Ultimately, Grande did what she felt was in the best interest of her fans. She held a benefit concert that remembered and honored the victims of the attack. She invited several celebrities to help with the recovery. What is unclear is whether or not Grande honored the tickets from the previous concert.
Now we have the biggest mass killing at a concert in the US. A mass culling of music fans. Stephen Paddock locked himself in a room on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay. With an excess of 10 rifles, he began shooting at victims like fish in a barrel. It is very perplexing to me that someone would choose such a happy setting to do something so vile.
The events that unfolded in Vegas served as a wake-up call. This can happen here. At home. On American soil.
As we struggle to pick up the pieces from this heinous event, we must remember: Music is meant to heal. Music is meant to allow us to feel on the deepest levels. It is meant to touch our very souls. If we allow for these events to hinder us from enjoying the music we so passionately love, we are giving up on a part of our souls. We will become fractured parts of our former selves.
I refuse to let the violence win. Instead, I want to have open conversations about safety. I want to continue to enjoy live music. I want to feel the bass beat through to my very soul. If that means putting myself in precarious situations, so be it. At least I can say that I didn’t die without a scar. I will not leave an untainted memoir.