Concert Fans and Their Unconventional Expressions: From Human Ashes to Cellphones

by Joshua Brown
Concert Security

Concert attendees have been expressing their love for their favorite musicians in extravagant ways for years, from tossing lingerie to showering the stage with flowers. However, recent incidents where performers have been struck by more substantial objects, raises concerns about extreme fan culture and the need for improved security.

Recently, country music artist Kelsea Ballerini was the victim of a flying object at her Boise concert. The video shows Ballerini playing her guitar on stage when suddenly a bracelet strikes her face, causing her to step back.

Ballerini, who seemed surprised by the incident, took a break before resuming the show.

“I’m fine,” she later reassured her fans on Instagram. “Someone threw a bracelet, it hit me in the eye and it more so just scared me than hurt me.”

Ashley Highfill, who was present at the Idaho Botanical Garden show, reported that Ballerini appeared upset by the incident. Highfill, a frequent concertgoer, noted that fans throwing items on stage at concerts is increasingly becoming the norm.

“Such behavior can be hazardous,” she observed. “Despite the lack of malicious intent, people aren’t considering the potential consequences of their actions when someone is performing on stage.”

The same day, rapper Sexyy Red terminated her concert prematurely when fans persisted in hurling water bottles onto the stage.

Morgan Milardo, the managing director at the Berklee Popular Music Institute in Boston, suggested that venues might need to adopt explicit “no throwing items at the stage” signs to safeguard artists.

“Everyone at a concert should be mindful of each other’s safety,” she emphasized. “Concerts should be spaces where people can bond over the magic of live music, not worrying about getting hit in the eye by a random object.”

Long past are the days of offline fan clubs, yet thanks to social media, fans can now engage with communities like the Swifties or the Beyhive whenever they want, or receive daily updates from celebrity accounts or fanpages. Laurel Williams, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine, indicated that this has fostered a deeper sense of connection and emotional proximity among fans.

A recent incident, where a fan scattered their mother’s ashes on stage during Pink’s performance, is an example of this perceived closeness.

Pop culture expert David Schmid explains this behavior through the etymology of the word “fan”, short for fanatic, which originally connotes religious fervor. Celebrities are often viewed as semi-divine figures, and the objects thrown onto the stage can be seen as offerings.

Changes in fan culture, influenced by social media, have also altered the types of items being flung on stage. Nowadays, fans are more likely to throw their weighty cellphones in the hopes that the performer will record a memorable moment for them. This, however, can sometimes result in dangerous situations.

A man was recently arrested for hitting pop star Bebe Rexha in the face with a cellphone at a concert. He confessed to a third party that he found it amusing. Rexha, following the concert, posted a photo of her injury on Instagram.

The pop star reassured her fans saying, “I’m good,” but also acknowledged the unfortunate incident by saying, “Although the show ended in an unfortunate way it was still an amazing show in my hometown.”

Even male artists like Harry Styles have been targeted by fans hurling more than just underwear. At a concert in November 2022, Styles was visibly in pain after being hit in the eye by an object.

Such provocative fan behavior isn’t new – Ozzy Osbourne famously bit the head off a live bat thrown at him on stage by a fan. Nevertheless, with such actions becoming more prevalent, there is an urgent need for enhanced security at events.

Paul Wertheimer, founder of Crowd Management Strategies/Crowdsafe, mentioned that artists usually have security agreements with promoters, detailing the type of security the artist is willing to pay for or require at the show. Venues could also consider restricting what can be brought into the event space.

“In order to safeguard the artist, proper security is crucial,” stressed Wertheimer.

Following the tragic Astroworld crowd surge in 2021, concert safety protocols have come under scrutiny. New developments in surveillance technology, such as facial recognition and AI-driven crowd monitoring, may deter fans from impulsively throwing items at their favorite performers, even in jest.

“The stage, while a place of immense power, also leaves you incredibly vulnerable,” noted Schmid.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Concert Security

What incident at a Kelsea Ballerini concert sparked concerns about concert security?

During a performance in Boise, Kelsea Ballerini was hit in the face by a bracelet thrown by a fan. Despite not being significantly hurt, the incident raised concerns about concert security and the trend of fans throwing items at performers.

What other artists have recently been victims of fans throwing objects?

Other victims include rapper Sexyy Red, who had to end a show early due to fans throwing water bottles, and pop star Bebe Rexha, who was struck in the face by a cellphone thrown by a fan.

What role does social media play in fan culture?

Social media has created a deeper sense of connection and emotional closeness for fans. This connection can sometimes lead to fans engaging in risky behavior at concerts, such as throwing personal items or cellphones on stage, to grab the attention of the performers.

How are venues and artists responding to this behavior?

There have been suggestions to improve security measures at concerts, such as having signs explicitly prohibiting throwing items on stage. Some artists also have security agreements with promoters to ensure their safety during performances.

What developments in technology may affect future concert security?

Recent advancements in surveillance technology, like facial recognition and AI-driven crowd monitoring, could help improve security at concerts and potentially deter fans from engaging in disruptive behavior.

More about Concert Security

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MusicLover99 July 1, 2023 - 4:10 am

This is getting out of hand! i saw a show last year where a girl threw her phone on stage. could have really hurt the performer 🙁

ConcertJunkie July 1, 2023 - 6:02 am

Been going to shows for years… used to be all about the music. These days, it’s more about the social media bragging rights. sad really.

TechGuy July 1, 2023 - 6:42 am

Facial recognition and AI, huh? sounds like concerts r going to start looking like sci-fi movies lol. But if it keeps the artists safe, I’m all for it.

PopPrincess July 1, 2023 - 10:29 am

Bebe Rexha was so brave after getting hit. Don’t get why anyone would find that funny!?

CountryFan21 July 2, 2023 - 12:02 am

Kelsea didn’t deserve this, no one does… why can’t ppl just enjoy the music and stop ruining it for everyone else.

OldSchoolRocker July 2, 2023 - 2:39 am

back in the day, it was all about the mosh pit. Can’t believe fans are throwing stuff now… seems like respect for the artists has gone out the window.


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