After terrorists stormed the Eagles of Death Metal show at the Bataclan in Paris on November 13th, opening fire and killing 89 attendees, touring artists all over the world called their agents and managers in a panic. U2, Foo Fighters, Motorhead, Marilyn Manson and others canceled or postponed shows in Paris. Lamb of God called off a European tour, because, frontman Randy Blythe said in a lengthy statement: “I’m not going to play around with my life or the lives of others if I feel there is a dangerous situation I could potentially stop from occurring by simply saying, ‘The show is over.'”
Allen Kovac, the veteran hard-rock manager who represents Mötley Crüe, Five Finger Death Punch and others, received many such calls from his clients: “During 9/11, I had several artists touring. Those calls are always the same — it’s concerned friends and family that are watching 24/7 news, reaching out to their loved ones and asking them to come home. It’s emotional.” Rolling Stone talked to top music managers about how they reacted to the Bataclan tragedy and what needs to change at shows.
Kovac: They do need to beef up security … I’m sure the insurance companies are going to push for more security for the concert promoters. I think it goes in phases, like [after] 9/11. For now, people are going to be more careful. Like you see at airports, you’re going to see a change with security going forward, because it didn’t exist as it should at certain venues.
A crew that’s making $1,500 to $2,000 a week doesn’t have anything really at stake, after taxes and costs — they’re the ones that really end up making the decision. If you’re a crew member, especially with the bigger bands, and you’re not sharing in the profits, what a lot of them say [is], “Why am I here?” Too much risk, not enough money.
Peter Katsis, veteran manager whose company Deckstar represents Jane’s Addiction, Steve Aoki and Smashing Pumpkins: Probably one of the biggest reasons the small club show was targeted [in Paris] was the lack of metal detectors at the doors. It seems like you could almost make just as much impact killing 100 people as you could have killing 1,000. So that’s scary. A lot of smaller venues can’t really afford that kind of security. Profits at club shows are pretty thin as it is. It’s difficult for everybody to step up, but people are going to have to find ways to make these events more secure.
One of the bigger issues is Europe. A lot of artists right now are going to be rethinking Italy, Spain, France. I think it won’t become as big an issue here [in the U.S.], as far as artists being scared. From what I’m hearing, ticket sales in France are down. How long will that last? I don’t know. But I’m sure that people are going to be finding solutions as soon as they can.
If people figure out better border restrictions — as these people flow from country to country, are there more checkpoints being added? — that’ll restore confidence. In the end, people are always going to want to go out, and live concerts are still some of the best entertainment.
Anonymous manager who represents several acts, some of whom tour regularly in Europe: I was with a band when [the Paris terrorism] was all happening. So it was the van talk, for those next few days, and what it all means and how it could affect things. We were talking about it all the time. It’s a similar kind of thing when we have offers for artists to play regions that have been unsafe or are currently unsafe. I try and do as much research as I can about what the status of the location is, and give them pros and cons. At the end of the day, it’s always going to be their call … We’re certainly in the camp of ‘better safe than sorry.’ If anyone [in a band] wasn’t comfortable, we would just pull [the concert] immediately. But so far that hasn’t happened.
I’ve reached out to everyone that was traveling the rest of the year and asked if they would look at changing anything or taking any precautions, and so far everyone’s been pretty resilient. They don’t want this to affect how they carry on. Everybody is really just torn up about it, more than anything.
Personally, I think it would be a shame if now you had to start installing metal detectors or more strict security enhancements. That would mostly be paying lip service to the loudest people who are going to be thinking, ‘Oh, well, now concerts are dangerous places and now we have to have all these measures in place.’ It’s not like metal detectors would have helped, or any extra security would’ve helped [at the Bataclan]. These people came in and started shooting and that’s not something that really could’ve been guarded against. You can’t start guarding every restaurant.
Anonymous manager of well-known, heavy-touring acts: There’s a fine line between trying to get people in [to a show] at a good rate so that lines aren’t long and people aren’t out in the cold waiting to get into a sold-out show, but fans are going to need to have a little more patience knowing that these types of threats are more common.
It is not something that has been addressed when deals are made. Our tour manager hosts a security meeting every night and goes over guidelines. We’re going to have to have a meeting to decide what things we might want to have an eye out for.
When we go out and do the next shows, we’ll make a statement to let people know that we’re working with the concert promoters and venues to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. That might be a perfect time for us to let people know, “If you experience a few-minute-longer delay than [you’re] used to getting into a venue, know that we’re making sure everybody that enters a building is there for the right reason.” I do think people need to live their lives and not hide at home because these things are happening at sports events and movie theatres and concerts and subway platforms.