From human ashes to cell phones, what’s going on with concert fans?

From throwing bras to throwing flowers, concertgoers have long been a little extra by showing adoration for their beloved artists, but a recent spate of artists who have been hit by heavier projectiles raises concerns about extreme culture of fans and security.

Country singer Kelsea Ballerini was the latest artist to be struck by a flying object, Wednesday night at a Boise concert. At the moment caught on video, Ballerini is playing his guitar onstage when a bracelet hits her face and she steps back.

Ballerini, clearly caught off guard, takes a moment before a short intermission is called.

“Hello, I’m fine,” he later said on Instagram. “Someone threw a bracelet, it hit me in the eye and it scared me more than it hurt me.”

Ashley Highfill, 30, was at the Idaho Botanical Garden exhibit and said Ballerini seemed visibly upset. Highfill, who often attends concerts with her friends, said it has become normal to see fans throw objects onto the stage at concerts.

“Things like this can be very dangerous”, said. “It’s disheartening to see that even though there is no malicious intent, people aren’t thinking about the consequences of these people putting on a show.”

That same day, rapper Sexyy Red interrupted her own show when fans refused to stop throwing water bottles onto the stage.

Morgan Milardo, managing director of the Berklee Institute of Popular Music in Boston, said some venues will have signs saying “no mosh pits” or “no crowd surfing,” but perhaps now signs explicitly saying “no throwing objects” are needed. to stage”. which will be added to protect artists.

Everyone who attends a concert is responsible for keeping each other safe.“, said. “Concerts are supposed to offer a community where people can come together to share the magic of live music, without having to worry about getting hit in the eye by a chicken nugget.”

Gone are the days of in-person fan clubs, but social media users can join Swifties or Beyhive anytime online or get daily updates from accounts run by or dedicated to celebrities. Social media has created a deeper sense of connection and emotional closeness for fans, said Laurel Williams, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine.

That feeling of closeness came to the fore at a recent concert where a fan threw her mother’s ashes onto the stage while Pink was performing.

“This is your mom?” Pink asked the fan. “I don’t know how to feel about this.”

David Schmid, a pop culture expert at the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, said the idea of ​​throwing objects onto the stage goes back historically to the etymology of the word “fan.” Short for fanatic, it was a term originally associated with religious devotion. And many tend to view celebrities “as if they were gods or at least semi-divine beings,” he said.

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“From that perspective, can you read the scenario as a kind of altar and the objects that are thrown on stage as devotional objects,” said Schmid.

The role of social media has also changed the nature of the items that are thrown onto the stage. Instead of throwing a note, some throw heavy cell phones onto the stage, hoping the performer will pick them up and record a moment for them. In some cases, it ends up being a dangerous demand for attention.

A man has been arrested after throwing a cellphone that hit pop star Bebe Rexha in the face on June 18. According to a criminal court complaint, the man later told a third party that he hit the artist because he thought it “would be fun.” After her concert in New York, Rexha shared a photo of her black eye and her bandaged face on Instagram, giving her a thumbs up.

“I’m fine,” he said in the post.

“Although the show ended unfortunately, it was an amazing show in my hometown,” he wrote in a subsequent post.

While female artists have been targeted this month, including singer Ava Max, who was slapped at her Los Angeles show, even male artists like Harry Styles have faced projectiles heavier than underwear. At a November 2022 concert, Styles could be seen throwing his head back in pain after a projectile hit him in the eye.

Taunts from fans in the middle of a concert aren’t necessarily new: Rock legend Ozzy Osbourne bit off the head of a live bat after a fan threw it at him on stage. Some punk fans may remember the days when concertgoers would spit on performers to show their appreciation.

But with such behavior seemingly becoming more common, venues, promoters and artists could look to tighten security.

Paul Wertheimer, founder of Crowd Management Strategies/Crowdsafe, said performers often have security contracts with the promoter that list what kind of security the performer will pay for or want at the show. Venues may also decide to limit what can be brought in or sold in the event space.

“You need to have adequate security to protect the artist”Wertheimer said.

Following the deadly surge of Astroworld crowds of 2021, safety protocols at concerts have been called into question. With recent advances in surveillance technology such as facial recognition and AI-powered crowd monitoring, fans may no longer be able to vanish into a crowd after throwing a personal item at their beloved artist, even if they do. joking.

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