Morning Music Notes – The Science Behind Crowd Crushing

Radiohead – The King of Limbs From the Basement to Get US Showing Soon

In case you did not see the YouTube streams of the From the Basement series featuring Radiohead (which were up on this site until copyright shut them down on YouTube), Radiohead has announced on their website that they will get a US airing. No word about a Canadian airing, however. Why must I be made to suffer so much?

“Our The King of Limbs – From The Basement programme is going to be aired in the USA this Saturday 23rd July at 9pm on Palladia, followed by a second showing on MTV2 the following Saturday. Apologies for the delay getting From The Basement shown in the UK: the original broadcaster decided not to show it, but we are working on it getting it shown on another channel.”

How Big a Concert Is Too Big? Is Danger Bound to Happen?

Big concerts have tons of pros and cons. Long line ups for the toilets, beers, food, being miles away from the stage, and never finding a parking spot. Hmm, what are the goods again? The Guardian takes an investigative look at the size of gigs and the injuries and deaths related to stage crushing.

“…crowd fatalities are becoming more frequent, not less. In the past decade alone, hundreds have been crushed to death at football matches, fireworks displays, shopping malls and religious gatherings worldwide. In terms of deaths caused by crushing at pop music events, Love Parade is second only to the 1999 Minsk beer festival in Belarus, where 53 people died while entering a nearby tube station.”

Since the first pop concert code of practice was drawn up after Whelan’s death (at a David Cassidy show in 1974), crowd management has evolved into a complex discipline, combining mathematics and psychology. Yet misconceptions persist in media reports of crowd crushes. Most victims, for example, are not trampled but die of “compressive asphyxia” in an upright position. And crushes are not caused by irrational or irresponsible behaviour. “People don’t die because they panic,” says Still. “They’re panicking because they’re dying. It’s easy to blame the crowd because its a faceless, indistinguishable blob. It takes balls to admit you’ve done something wrong.”

“The US concert industry experienced its Bernadette Whelan moment on 3 December 1979, when the Who played the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hearing the band soundcheck, some queuing fans believed the concert had started and surged towards the venue doors, some of which remained closed; 11 died of compressive asphyxia.”

“Keith Still was beginning his own academic research by studying crowds at Wembley Stadium. “I thought it was fascinating,” he says. “I started to ask questions. The more questions I was asking, the less I liked the answers.” Still identifies three phases of crowd behaviour: entry, circulation and exit. In each phase, three factors influence behaviour. First is venue design, which dictates the number of bodies that a venue can safely contain. Second is information that affects the mood and movement of the crowd: a sudden change in weather, a bomb scare, a band appearing early or late; this demands an understanding of crowd psychology. And third is management: how the organisers respond to crowd-flow situations. “There’s your causality: design, information and management,” says Still. A failure in any one area can lead to calamity. At Love Parade, the prosecutors’ interim report suggests, all three failed.”

Give Another Track from Watch the Throne A Listen

The much-hyped Jay-Z / Kanye West album Watch the Throne is fast approaching it’s early August release date (Aug 1 digital, Aug 5 physical). The second song our ears get to hear is Otis, which features samples of Otis Redding mixed in with the beat throughout the track. It is better than first track H.A.M., but not a classic just yet. Unless you are Kanye or Jzy-S reading this website, in which case delete the above typo, and read “It is epic, and I cannot wait for Kanye to play in my backyard.” And I’m talking about playing a concert, not on my slip-and-slide. And that’s a water slide toy, not an innuendo.

Otis feat. Otis Redding by watchthethrone

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