Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza twist suggests Las Vegas shooter didn’t care which type of music fan he hurt

Thursday’s news that someone using the same name as Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock had booked two rooms at Chicago’s Blackstone Hotel overlooking the Lollapalooza music festival prompted new questions about who the gunman was targeting.

During the earliest days searching for a motive in Sunday’s attack on the Route 91 Harvest Festival, some wondered if the shooter had specifically targeted Las Vegas, where he frequently spent time gambling, or if there was another reason he wanted to inflict harm upon the all-ages gathering of country music fans.

Then on Wednesday, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo confirmed earlier reports that the shooter rented space in a condo tower with a clear view of another music festival, Life Is Beautiful, the weekend before his attack.

The demographics of Route 91 are markedly different from Lollapalooza, which took place the first weekend in August, and Life Is Beautiful. They suggest that the shooter may not have been targeting a specific type of music event.

Lollapalooza and Life Is Beautiful featured as headliners the Chicago hip-hop star Chance the Rapper, arena rock band Muse, superstar pop singer Lorde and commercial punk band Blink-182.

There was no overlap with the Route 91 lineup, which was dense with commercial country singers including headliners Jason Aldean and Sam Hunt.

The country music base is well off, according to a 2016 report by Nielsen Music, earning 26% more than the average adult. Its fans are also older than those of other music genres, with an average age of 44, although in recent years millennials have been flocking to the music.

By contrast, Life Is Beautiful and Lollapalooza draw younger, more racially diverse fans. According to a 2015 report in the Chicago Tribune, from 2012 to 2014 there was “a 10% decrease in the number of concertgoers between the ages of 35 and 54, and a corresponding increase in the number of patrons from 18 to 24.” Forty percent of that audience was 25 to 34, with attendees 55 and older representing a mere 3 percent of patrons.

What about politics? Chance the Rapper, who may have gone to prep school and grown up in a middle-class Chicago neighborhood, has seen his share of violence as a young black man and donates to anti-violence campaigns.

Chance the Rapper. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Chance the Rapper. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Country singer Aldean, from Macon, Ga., has been less forthcoming about his politics, but a 2012 study by the music data company Echo Nest found that his music was a favorite among “artists whose fans are most correlated to Republican” beliefs.

The suggestion? The gunman had no regard for the “who” of his targets.

What Paddock might have missed, however, is that even with their differences, the two music communities are united by a core set of American values.

As Aldean wrote in an Instagram post after the shooting, “At the end of the day we arent Democrats or Republicans, Whites or Blacks, Men or Women. We are all humans and we are all Americans and its time to start acting like it and stand together as ONE!”

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