There’s been more than a few things written about Jason Aldean, the pop-country artist that played during the recent Las Vegas shooting incident, that has passed in front of my eyes. Some of the more notable things written involve Aldean, his band, and/or the production crew being willing conspirators in the shooting, or at least acting incompetently. These sentiments is dumber than a truckload of broken pink hammers, and I’ll explain why.
Source: I have played in zillions of bands, played zillions of live shows, seen zillions of bands play, and have intermediate knowledge of how basic live production works.
1. Bands, playing live, have next to no knowledge of what’s going on off the stage. They may see people, people’s heads, and maybe a red exit sign or two in the back, but mostly they see bright lights in their face. Additionally, they have no mental energy to spare bothering to figure out what’s going on offstage, since they are concentrating on not screwing up. A vocalist might have more of a perspective, if he’s not tied down with an instrument or a mic stand, but only very little more. In Aldean’s case, he is high-profile enough to have a large live budget, so he and the band will only know something weird is going down through their ear monitors, and it will probably be a stage manager or, at the very least, the soundboard tech letting him know.
2. If there’s a possible security issue occurring, the first people to react are floor security, and they’re not going to be looking at nearby buildings for a shooter. Just like the Spanish Inquisition, no one is expecting a shooter at a live music event; the most dangerous “attacks” that happen at those events are the drunk guys passing out face down on the house floor. Security on the audience floor—those on the perimeter and the ones in the “pit” between the audience and the stage—are focused 100% on the audience members, and since they are “first responders,” they are the ones who walkie-talkie the crew, the lighting guy included, if something big enough to warrant a full stop to the show. In this case, security saw commotion in the audience and responded appropriately.
3. Given 1 and 2, it’s likely Aldean and the band were the last ones who knew what was going on. The band probably got a “cut” command in their monitors (you hear the music kinda peter out and stop), and the audience-facing stage lights went on because of the commotion in the audience, which is standard ops. The lighting guy wasn’t “lighting up” the audience so the shooter could see potential targets a little better, neither are production crews genius Navy Seal sharpshooter detectives, who are thinking or acting like Jason Statham when a crisis goes down.