The 2022 Miami Ultra Music Festival is just around the corner. For three weekend days at the end of March, the city center will resound with hypnotic electronic dance music as approximately 55,000 young people gather for the event. City leaders must take action now to ensure this is a safe experience for all.
As we learned from the tragedy at Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert in Houston, crowded music festivals can turn deadly. Huge crowds, limited space, popular performers, drugs and alcohol, the search for a good place near the stage – and all of it amplified by the demand fueled by the pandemic. It will be the first Ultra in two years.
No doubt, the atmosphere of Ultra and that of a Scott concert are different. Scott has a habit of encouraging energetic crowds to go wild and “shake the ground,” as he did in Houston even as ambulances rushed through the crowds to help distressed fans. In the end, fans suffered from suffocation, trampling and heart failure, with eight deaths and 25 hospitalizations.
Lessons from Houston
The gruesome scene and creepy tales from the survivors of the concert should prompt city of Miami officials and Ultra organizers to take a close look at their crowd control plans – and swear to residents that it can’t, no. will not arrive in Miami.
Yes, Ultra is softer, but Miami’s extravagance was not without violence. In 2015, a security guard was trampled by a raging mob who wanted to interrupt the party without tickets. The organizers of Ultra, who were threatened with eviction by Miami residents, responded and hired Ray Martinez, a former Miami police chief, as the festival’s security chief.
The editorial board asked Martinez on Tuesday: Given the Houston tragedy, will security measures be reviewed for Ultra?
“This event will have a ripple effect on all major events across the country,” Martinez said. “We still don’t know enough about what led to the Houston tragedy, but we will pay attention to lessons learned and adopt them for Ultra if necessary.”
It must happen. Yes, it is necessary. Like Astroworld, Ultra will return for its first show after two years of pandemic containment. The pent-up frustrations of people have been observed in the unruly behavior of airlines. At Astroworld, fans noted that many spectators seemed more aggressive than usual.
The Houston Police Department is investigating what led to the carnage. More than a dozen lawsuits have already been filed against Scott, a hometown rapper who kicked off the annual festival with Live Nation Entertainment Scott said he was only aware after the concert that so many fans were in distress.
The city is ready
We know that over the years Ultra has fixed its weaknesses. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez therefore told the board that he was confident the city would be ready.
“Miami police and firefighters have been working on events of the same scale as Astroworld or larger for decades,” Suarez said in a statement. “The City of Miami will work with the Houston authorities to review their post-action plan.”
And Commissioner Joe Carollo agreed the city was ready for Ultra. “We will be meeting with police and firefighters to make sure we keep him safe during Ultra and also at the New Years Eve celebration in downtown Miami,” Carollo told the board.
Florida International University professor Craig K. Skilling, who teaches a course called Mega Event Management, said Ultra organizers and city of Miami officials should try to anticipate potential problems and be proactive in taking action so that you don’t end up in a situation similar to Houston. . “You have to do your due diligence,” Skilling said.
One area to focus on, Skilling suggested, is ensuring crowd control, knowing that audiences, perhaps when a popular artist starts a set, will be ready to “explode with excitement and anticipation. “.
“Adults don’t do this, but young people at concerts do,” he said.
And artists have to play a role in making their gig safe for fans, Skilling added. “I understand that artists want to feed on the energy of the crowd. But they too have a responsibility, like everyone else who organizes the concert, to make the safety of the spectators a top priority. “
We rely on city officials and others to do just that.
This story was originally published November 9, 2021 7:57 pm.