What the future has in store for music festivals

LOS ANGELES — Covering concerts and massive festivals, Brian Garris can do that in his sleep.

He has been covering the entertainment industry for 25 years for local radio, and in those two-plus decades, he has seen it change. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Coachella Music and Arts Festival is set for April of 2022
  • Reports say Travis Scott is no longer performing at Coachella
  • This comes as Scott faces lawsuits after his deadly Astroworld concert in Houston
  • Ten people died of compression asphyxia after a crowd surge at Astroworld

“I watch shows off to the side so God forbid anything happens,” he said.

Garris said organizers need to be more prepared for large-scale concerts and festivals than ever before, which may not be all that difficult given the way the live entertainment industry has been able to pivot so far.

Security ramped up after the Route 91 Las Vegas shooting, such as implementing exit strategies at concerts, even the introduction of surveillance drones over the 19th annual Coachella back in 2019, the first major festival to happen in the U.S. after the Vegas shooting.

Some venues have even banned bags. Now, significant protocols are in place to combat the pandemic — with entire teams dedicated to checking the vaccine status of tens of thousands of people at venues.

After the Astroworld Festival tragedy in Houston, many are talking about safety at future festivals and what needs to change again.

More than a month ago, Los Angeles native Lucas Naccarati was jamming to Travis Scott’s hit called “Escape Plan,” but looking back at videos and images of Astroworld in his phone still haunts him.

“You can see the pain in this kid’s face right here,” he said. “I could’ve been the one dying. Because right after, I almost did.”

Lucas survived the deadly surge at the Astroworld Music festival in Texas. He remembers when headliner Travis Scott took the stage and the chaos that ensued with 50,000 people packed tight.  

The mosh pits and adrenaline-inducing atmosphere are all very characteristic of these kinds of concerts. First, Garris said festivals need more structure and more partitions and divisions with the general admission crowd to avoid the sardine-like groups.

Garris said another potential threat to look out for is the trampling of people in massive crowds. He said the topic should be part of the discourse for these live entertainment companies.

“Music itself has evolved over the years. Venues need to evolve, too. Maybe do a little bit of a background check on some of the artists you are bringing into these venues, like is it really worth it?” he said.

Garris knows music, he knows Coachella, and he knows what needs to change.