There’s nothing new about over-excited fans hurling objects onto the stage at concerts — but heavier objects have recently raised questions from some.
NEW YORK – From tossing bras to tossing flowers, concert-goers have long had a little more to offer in adoring their beloved artist — but a spate of artists recently hit by heavier bullets raises concerns about extreme fan culture and security.
Country singer Kelsea Ballerini was the latest artist to be hit by a flying object Wednesday night at a concert in Boise. In the moment captured on video, Ballerini was playing guitar on stage when a bracelet hit her face causing her to take a step back.
Ballerini, clearly caught off guard, took a moment before pausing briefly.
“Hi, I’m fine,” she later said on Instagram. “Someone threw a bracelet, it hit me in the eye and it scared me more than it hurt me.”
Ashley Highfill, 30, was at the Idaho Botanical Garden show and said Ballerini seemed annoyed. Highfill, who often attends concerts with his friends, said it has become normal for fans to throw things on stage at concerts.
“Things like that can be very dangerous,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking to see that despite no ill intentions, people don’t think about the consequences these people are having.”
That same day, rapper Sexyy Red cut her own performance short when fans refused to stop throwing water bottles on stage.
Morgan Milardo, executive director of the Berklee Academy of Music in Boston, says some venues will have a “no mosh pits” or “no crowd surf” sign – but perhaps now a sign is needed. clearly “do not throw objects on the stage”. added to protect the artist.
“Everybody who attends a concert has a responsibility to keep each other safe,” she said. “Concerts are supposed to provide a community where people can come together to share the magic of live music, without having to worry about a piece of chicken hitting their eyeballs.”
Gone are the days of live fan clubs, but social media users can join with Swifties or Beyhive anytime online or get daily updates from accounts run by or exclusively for celebrities. Laurel Williams, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine, says social media has created a deeper sense of connection and emotional closeness for fans.
That feeling of closeness played out at a recent concert where a fan threw their mother’s ashes onto the stage while Pink was performing.
“Is this your mother?” Pink asked fans. “I don’t know how to feel about this.”
David Schmid, a pop culture expert at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, says the idea of tossing items on stage historically stems from the etymology of the word “fan”. Short for fanaticism, it’s a term that was originally associated with religious devotion. And many people tend to see celebrities “as if they were gods or at least semi-divine beings,” he said.
“From that point of view, you can understand the stage as a kind of altar and the objects that are thrown onto the stage as objects of worship,” says Schmid.
The role of social media has also changed the nature of the items thrown onto the stage. Instead of tossing notes, some threw heavy cell phones onto the stage, hoping performers would snap and capture the moment for them. In some cases, it becomes a dangerous attraction.
a man was caught after throwing the phone hit pop star Bebe Rexha in the face on June 18. According to a court criminal complaint, the man then told a third party that he hit the artist because he thought “that It’s going to be funny.” After the New York concert, Rexha shared a photo of her dark eyes and bandaged face to Instagram with a thumbs up.
“I’m fine,” she said in the post.
“Even though the show ended sadly, it was still a great show in my hometown,” she wrote in a follow-up post.
While female artists have been targeted this month — including singer Ava Max, who was slapped at her Los Angeles concert – even male performers like Harry Styles was faced with bullets heavier than underwear. At a concert in November 2022, Styles could be seen tilting his head back in pain after being shot in the eye by a bullet.
Mid-concert provocations from fans aren’t exactly new: Rock legend Ozzy Osbourne famously bit off the head of a live bat after a fan threw it at him on stage. Some punk fans may remember the days when concertgoers spat at artists to show appreciation.
But with such behavior seemingly becoming more common, venues, promoters and artists may be looking to increase security.
Paul Wertheimer, founder of Crowd Management Strategies/Crowdsafe, says artists often have confidentiality contracts with promoters that list the type of security the artist will pay or want at a gig. Venues can also decide to limit what can be brought inside or sold at the event space.
“You need to have the right security measures in place to protect the artist,” Wertheimer said.
After Astroworld’s 2021 Dead Crowd, protocols around safety at concerts have been questioned. With recent advances in surveillance technology, such as facial recognition and artificial intelligence crowd monitoring, fans can no longer blend into the crowd after throwing a personal item at them. their favorite artists — even if it’s just a joke.
“The stage is an extremely powerful place on one level but it is also a place where you are extremely vulnerable,” says Schmid.