Last Updated: Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Travi$ Scott Charged For Inciting Crowd At Chicago’s Lollapalooza; But, What About The Others?
Updated: Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Is the ghost of Lollapalooza past returning? Photo: Lollapalooza (c)

Last week (December22) African-American rapper Travi$ Scott (Jacques Webster) pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct stemming from his performance at Lollapalooza 2015 in Chicago. Mr. Scott received for his plea a year’s court supervision. The rapper was arrested for allegedly inciting his afternoon audience during his set (August 1). Witnesses said he told festivalgoers to come forward, closer to the stage and for C3 Presents event staff---performing crowd management--- to step aside so the crowd could surge over stage barricades into the ample sized pit area. Mr. Scott ranted and raved, cajoled, danced and sang as C3 concert staff fell into disarray and was swallowed by the crowd. Hundreds of people appear to have responded to the rapper’s invitation. At least one person was injured according to one story about the incident.

The concert chaos continued for approximately five minutes or more. Not one minute. Not two minutes. Not three minutes. Not four minutes. But, five minutes according to eyewitnesses. Video of the incident verifies the estimate. Neither the promoter C3 Presents/Live Nation nor stage management immediately switched off the stage sound system. The set was only stopped when fans invaded the stage. Had promoter C3 Presents/Live Nation or its agents turned off the sound as soon as the rapper called on the crowd to invade his stage, the crowd craze that resulted would not have escalated to the dangerous level it did.

Mr. Scott deserved his sentence and more. But, to Crowd Management Strategies way of thinking, his arrest alone is rather odd and token. He is not the first Lollapalooza artist to incite fans or put them in harm’s way. But, at Chicago’s Lollapalooza he is the first documented by Crowdsafe® Database to be arrested and sentenced. The other Lollapalooza acts over the past decade, were mostly—or possibly all---white performers. Oddly, the festival promoter C3 Presents/Live Nation was not charged or fined for allowing the chaos to continue as long as it did. In fact, C3/Live Nation, or its agents or subcontractors, have not been charged or fined for the out-of-control underage drinking that continues and grows each festival year.

Chicago safety officials also turn a blind eye to the irresponsible promotion of stage diving, crowd surfing and crowd crushing by C3 Presents/Live Nation, even though those concert activities have killed, maimed and injured countless music fans.

And, while the festival---which covers approximately 115 acres--- does around a quarter of a million dollars of damage to the city’s prized downtown open space, Grant Park, that’s acceptable to City Hall, too---as long as the promoter undertakes to restore the park. Restoration takes months. So, basically, Lollapalooza ruins large portions of Chicago’s showplace park. Then attempts to repair the damage. Then destroys the festival site again.

The Lollapalooza festival is slowly sinking back into its 1990’s notorious crowd safety reputation that sent thousands of fans to first aid and hospitals across the country and triggered many high profile concert injury lawsuits. So many lawsuits and so much bad press that the highly profitable alternative festival eventually came to a halt.

Chicago police and fire officials and City Hall have for decades turned a blind eye toward the countless safety dangers Chicagoans face at live entertainment events. That’s what helped to trigger Chicago’s worst nightclub disaster in 2003. And, it will likely be an element of Chicago’s next concert or festival disaster. Crowd Management Strategies’ Paul Wertheimer once before made a similar statement about Chicago crowd safety in 1994. At that time, it was during an award-winning TV investigation on the same issue. He said then, that if City Hall did not get tough on promoters and venue operators a disaster would occur. The E2 nightclub tragedy was a fulfilment of that forewarning.

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