We love music, we love spectacles. Concerts are the marriage of those two loves into one giant event. People gather to see their favourite artists perform their greatest and newest hits in living colour.
For many fans, it is the closest they will ever get to seeing their beloved singers or bands in-person, proving their chops as musical performers by showing they have the talent to sing, dance, and play instruments outside the safety net of the recording studio.
Concerts are like little on-stage festivals celebrating musical prowess and imagination for a tidy sum. But how easily it can all go wrong.
Taylor Swift is one of the most popular singer-songwriters of our generation and with good cause. Swift’s talent has led her to sell millions of records worldwide, win numerous industry awards, and, at the time of writing, hold seven slots on Billboard’s Top 10 Album Sales chart.
She is a megastar, and it is this fame that has formed the foundation for her global mega-show — The Eras Tour, a 10-act celebration of Swift’s entire musical career that clocks in at three-and-a-half hours and features 44 songs from her discography.
It began last year on March 17 and will conclude on Dec. 8 in Vancouver. But there is another city that was of interest for all the wrong reasons — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
On Nov. 17, 23-year-old concert-goer Ana Clara Benevides passed out from heat exhaustion during the second song of the set and died hours later in the hospital. Despite temperatures that day reaching 40 C, other attendees claimed that outside water was banned from the Nilton Santos Stadium by event organizer, T4F.
It was also reported the water and other amenities in the stadium were being sold at inflated prices, vents were covered to keep those in the entry queue from peering inside, and the audience interrupted the show with chants for water to be distributed. Rio de Janeiro police have opened a criminal investigation against T4F following Benevides’s death.
Price gouging is an all too common practice in closed venues like this. Ever notice how everything is so expensive in sports stadiums and airports? That is because everybody in these places are part of a captive market — their purchasing options are severely limited to either accepting what is presented at its price or getting nothing at all.
Woodstock ‘99 saw the exact same occurrence as Nilton Santos with outside food and drinks banned, on-site vendors charging over market prices, and attendees feeling that burden the hard way in high heat.
Snacks and water are not alone. Merchandise, parking, and tickets themselves burn holes that obliterate the wallet and directly scorch the bank account with the heat of a thousand suns. Attending a big name concert is enough to wipe away a week’s worth of wages for most people, all because everybody wants a piece of the action.
Event organizers, venue hosts, the acts, ticket distributors, parking enforcement, and so many other players jockey for a cut because concerts are money and the goers are a gaggle of golden geese.
If caps for ticket prices are, for whatever reason, a no-go, then there should at least be caps set on vendors. Food and water should never, in any circumstances where lives could be at risk, be inflated to such predatory levels. It destroys the spectacle of music and other events when simply being there creates financial anxiety and fears of death or injury. Concert-goers face all of this just because boardrooms want everything from people who have less.