Arts, Culture & Entertainment

How Rolling Loud tackled security post-Astroworld

The festival in Inglewood this weekend raised questions about safety at large concert venues.

Photographs of the best moments from Rolling Loud 2023

This weekend, Inglewood hosted Rolling Loud, its first-ever large-scale music festival. While roughly 60,000 hip-hop fans flocked to the festival to see artists like Travis Scott, Future and Lil Wayne, many harbored concerns about the venue’s safety following recent concert-related tragedies.

After a crowd crush during Scott’s set at 2021′s Astroworld Festival in Houston left 10 dead, security and crowd control have become a concern for both festival attendees and organizers. While some injuries and minor incidents were reported this weekend, it appears to have been a relatively safe event.

“With all of the protocols and plans in place, I felt prepared to know what to do in case of an emergency and had confidence in the systems in place,” said Nina Patel, a human biology major at USC, who volunteered as an EMT at Rolling Loud with the organization Rock Medicine.

Organizers actively worked to calm crowds during performances at this weekend’s festival. Rolling Loud’s founder, Tariq Cherif, came onto the stage alongside other officials to encourage attendees to take steps back and make sure their fellow concertgoers had enough space.

Rolling Loud has a history of dangerous situations. In 2019, a man was beaten to death during a festival held at Exposition Park. That same year at Rolling Loud Miami, Travis Scott allegedly continued to incite mosh pits and stampedes after local police urged him to stop his performance. This resulted in one of the many lawsuits against Scott after Astroworld highlighted the artist’s responsibility in regard to crowd safety.

A stampede at a recent GloRilla concert in New York left one dead and nine injured after false rumors of a shooting at the venue. That event had no connection to Rolling Loud.

At Rolling Loud this weekend, Scott’s set ended abruptly. In the middle of his hit song, “Sicko Mode,” the clock struck 11 p.m., and the speakers were cut. While Scott continued to perform, the screens behind him went black before a goodbye message appeared.

The festival had set a curfew for 11 p.m. which was strictly enforced. This was just one of the many ways that the crew behind the scenes worked to ensure a safer environment for attendees.

Even so, there were still a few moments where security had to intervene, including when a fan tried to jump on the stage during Ice Spice’s performance after professing his love for her. Two security guards immediately took care of the situation, blocking the man from approaching the stage. According to Rolling Loud’s team, this was a publicity stunt, but some attendees weren’t so sure.

Caitlin Reeves, a student at the University of Tampa, traveled across the country for her spring break to attend Rolling Loud in Los Angeles. She said ID checks, bag checks and a wristband system were in place to contribute to safety measures. Still, she made sure to stay close to her friend who went with her.

“We would just make sure that we grabbed onto each other,” she said. “We’re always together in crowds because people would rush to the stage, and we’re just scared of it getting too crazy.”

Reeves added that much of the sense of security actually came from the crowd itself, as many attendees supported each other to create a safer experience.

“I saw someone kind of like, get sick and everyone backed up and gave them space,” Reeves said. “A bunch of people were making sure he was okay, bringing him water and stuff. Like people are definitely looking out for each other.”

A Rolling Loud representative pointed out after this article was published that the organization has produced six successful festivals in the U.S. and in Portugal and Canada since November 2021. “Rolling Loud has remained a safe festival for fans to attend,” the representative said.

With all the measures in place, Rolling Loud still was not exempt from risk and injury.

“Rolling Loud was one of the largest events I have worked,” Patel said. “Due to the nature of the event, we had many calls relating to drugs and alcohol as well as crowd-related injuries. Providing care in a festival and concert environment can be difficult due to the constraints of large crowds and it being very loud.”

After this article was published, Patel requested for her comments to be deleted as she is not an official spokesperson for the organization.

As for Reeves, she spent much of her time in the VIP section, where she said it was much calmer. However, the same cannot always be said for the general section.

The VIP section is less crowded and includes many luxuries that make the concert-going experience more enjoyable and less stressful. For example, it has air-conditioned restrooms, seated areas in the shade and private food and beverage vendors. These privileges are not accessible to those who are in general admission and might not have been able to afford VIP tickets.

But for regular concertgoers, coveted general admission tickets could also mean lesser protection from dangerous and rowdy crowds. The Rolling Loud representative said that is not accurate and that the organization “treats the security and wellbeing of all their guests with the utmost care, regardless of ticket type.”

With the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on the horizon, many will be interested to see how other festivals plan to approach the safety of attendees.

Taylor Contarino also contributed to this reporting.

This story was updated to correct the number of fans attending the event, to reflect that an incident on stage was a prank and to include additional context from a Rolling Loud representative.