I go to a lot of concerts. I also know the risk of doing so. I remember hearing the stories of Le Bataclan, Manchester or Las Vegas for the first time, and I still get chills run down my spine. The world is a scary place, and it’s terrifying to know that there are people out there attacking innocent fans at a show, a place that’s supposed to be safe and enjoyable for all. These tragedies haven’t stopped me from pursuing live music, though. I believe that when we stop doing the things we love out of fear, we’re giving up control of our lives, and letting the bad guys win. I’ve always been cautious and alert, but I honestly never thought something like this could happen to me. Last night, it did.
I went to an Ice Cube concert last night with my family (dad’s a huge old school rap fan), at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. While we were all waiting in the GA pit, I heard a woman behind me freaking out, telling her friends that she’d just received a text from her coworker who was outside the gates and had just gotten shot. I tried to ignore it, doing a quick google search for any news, and when I saw nothing, telling myself she was just joking or maybe had smoked a little too much pot, but soon word started to get around. Police helicopters swarmed the area, police sirens started blaring as fifty cop cars covered the perimeter, and a hundred different stories were heard in the crowd.
You can imagine how panic-inducing all of this was, especially since we had no official word on what was going on, and were relying on what we could find out by calling or texting friends and family outside the venue or at home to check the news for us. For the record, we later found out that a fan was at the gates, found out the show was sold out, got extremely upset and opened fire. He harmed one person (non-fatal) and was then shot by police. The video can be found here, but it is graphic, so be warned. It doesn’t seem like a “big deal” now (even though every shooting is a big deal, I mean to say we’re lucky it was outside the gates, no bystanders died, and that it was it was apparently not an act of terror/planned mass shooting/anything of the sort). But you have to remember, everyone inside did not know this was the case. All we knew is that there was immense police presence and a shooting going on. And that’s why I have to talk about this.
This article is not going to talk about gun control (that’s an important issue for a different day), or the bogus notion that this shooting occured because of the demographic of fans that an Ice Cube concert attracts (as someone in the crowd, I can say that there were people of every age, social class, and color in that crowd, and everyone was respectful and there to enjoy the music). This article is a call for action for better security and communication at all live events.
The police got the gunman down pretty quickly after he opened fire, but it shouldn’t have even gotten to that point. The Del Mar Racetrack/Fairgrounds is a very open area, and the shooter was able to get to the entry gate, a populated area, with a concealed weapon, incredibly easily. Furthermore, once inside the racetrack, the “security” points before entering the racetrack AND concert was laughable. Attendants made sure to ID me to make sure I was over 18, but they didn’t do any form of bag check, and there was absolutely no metal detectors (handheld or standing). This is what made everyone uneasy. We knew there had been a shooting, we didn’t know if it was inside the venue or outside or if there were multiple gunmen (potentially even someone standing next to us) since the shoddy security would have made it a breeze for anyone to enter the concert with a weapon. There was also a period of time where no one was allowed to enter or leave the venue, which added to the anxiety that if someone dangerous was already inside, we were just sitting ducks.
The communication was equally poorly handled. Everyone waited over 2 hours past the announced show time for Ice Cube to come on, not knowing if the show was cancelled or not. Del Mar’s official twitter announced that the show was still on... and then made us all wait another hour, watching roadies clear the stage, turn off the projections, and stop playing hype music… all indications that the show was indeed, not on. Even worse, venue security guards told us that the tweet was untrue, and that Ice Cube was not performing. After hearing this, and getting clearance to leave, my family and I (among thousands of others) left the venue, only to find out later that Ice Cube did end up performing.
I’m not that upset I actually missed the show, because it was my choice to leave, and the relief of getting out of a scary situation overpowered the disappointment of not seeing the rapper, but I am more than a little peeved at venue staff for the way they handled the situation. With a few more preventative measures in place, this wouldn’t have happened- and even if the shooting still would have occured, clear communication between Del Mar and the attendees could have clarified the situation, let us know we were safe, and avoid sending mixed messages whether Ice Cube was going to perform or not.
That being said, let’s end this piece on a lighter note, and take some advice from Ice Cube himself, on a tweet he posted addressing the situation. “Moral of the story: Come see ya homie Cube...but leave the strap at home”.
That's all I have to say. I never thought that something like this would happen at one of my shows, but it was an eyeopening experience and I feel very lucky that it wasn't worse. I hope the takeaway from this is that we all start a conversation. We need to talk about safety and communication at concerts, and more than anything we need to stay alert and be aware that these things can happen. Stay safe, concertgoers.