Cornell Students Using Physics To Predict Human Behavior, Save Lives At Rock Concerts



I’ve got an excellent update to our ongoing experiments on concert rioting, live music fears and similar concert crisis related explorations.

According to Physics Central a group of students at Cornell University have begun to share their research about comparing concert rioting and mosh pits to the how molecules in gas behave with the plan of “using some techniques of physics to describe and maybe predict human behavior in times of crisis.”

This is really an amazing collection of research that has me thinking about a lot of other possibilities related to our previous experiments on riots, heavy metal shows and even our RIP and mourning explorations where lives were lost because of chaos as frantic crowd situations.

Here’s my favorite snippet from the article:

The project began when one student, Jesse Silverberg, took his girlfriend to a heavy metal concert. Not wanting to get involved in the mosh pit that formed in the audience–people get hurt–he stood aside and was fascinated by the motion of the crowd. The group’s movement resembled something he saw in physics classes, the disordered collisions of molecules in a gas.

Silverberg thought that might be an interesting study, and along with other students, created artificial mosh pits in a computer, using videos of rock concerts on YouTube as the template and converting the crowd into individual particles in the program using automated tracking techniques.

Bierbaum reported at the meeting that while the crowds seemed to be running around wildly, the researchers found two types of people in the patterns, subjects they called MASHERS (Mobile Active Simulated Humanoids). Some “flocked,” meaning they generally followed their neighbors. Animals flock the same way, Bierbaum said. So do fish schools. There is no bird or fish in charge. Those who stayed stationary, passive MASHERS, reacted normally when an active MASHER accidentally collided with them–they bounced–and then resumed standing still.

There’s also some very interesting and fascinating mosh pit data collected here that was used in the research along with this mosh pit simulator.

I also love it how Jessie’s desire to not want to be in the mosh pit led him to the discovery. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at mosh pits and wondered why those happen and what purpose they serve at concert beyond a physical release or just a dangerously chaotic response to how the music is making us feel during the show.

And I’m pumped to see something positive come out of moshing and know that Jessie and his fellow students have given us some great insight through the lens of physics that could really make a major impact on the lives of concert fans.

Lastly, this makes me wonder about what other parts of the concert experience can be better understood by looking at other areas of life or scientific disciplines to find solutions to problems?

If we can compare mosh pits to gas molecules to make concerts safer, what other examples and comparisons can we find to enhance, improve and better understand the concert experience?

Like I said, this is great stuff and we’ll certainly continue to follow this story and share more updates as we dive deeper into the data and uncover more awesomeness.

That’s it for now. Let us know what you think of this study in the comments below and stay tuned for more as we continue to explore this story and have the Cornell students share more about their research and favorite concert experiences on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Odd Future Concert Choas Continues: Tyler, The Creator Adds Roxy Sound Guy To Assaulted List

tyler the creator roxy assault

First it was Pitchfork and cupcakes. Then a slapped photographer. Now it’s an assaulted sound guy and destroyed gear.

Yep, my friends. We have some more crazy non-musical concert chaos news to share about Odd Future and their uber-rowdy leader Tyler, The Creator.

Reports of the Roxy incident on Thursday night spread fast across the interwebs as fans like Jensen Karp tweeted the chaos which included Tyler’s mom yelling “That’s My Baby” and the cops using beanbag ammunition to control the crowd that had gathered outside the Roxy.

So far there’s been a handful of fan videos (below) have surfaced. And by the looks of it, it’s more of the same stuff that’s happened earlier in the year as Odd Future leaves a destructive wake of assaults charges as they travel across the country. And sadly, all the news that’s making headlines not about the music but about the drama and brewing riots.

But the fans keep coming to the shows, to support and chant for the freedom of Tyler.

That said, and since we’re all about telling the fan’s side of the story, let us know what it was like for you at the Roxy or at any other Odd Future show and drop a comment below, and we’ll share your experience on an upcoming episode of Live Fix Radio.

Fan videos:



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Why Did Fans Riot at Metallica Concert in India?

metallica riot in India


Well, Metallica’s first ever gig in India didn’t happen and things got ugly in a hurry.

As you can see in the videos above and below, when the show was postponed and oversold the fans decided to riot and tear up the stage at the F1 show last weekend resulting in a cancellation and $200,000 in damages.

Here’s what happened according to Billboard:

…fans became unruly when the gates opened several hours later than the scheduled opening times. Still other media reports said fans became angry after DNA sold more tickets than the venue’s estimated 30,000 capacity and because the organizers failed to inform ticket holders of the cancelation.

Despite attempts to restore order, some spectators breached security and began to destroy the stage set and equipment. ESPN’s F1 website states that Metallica had brought more than 30 tons of equipment. When the damage was later assessed, there were hopes to put on the show the following day, but the organizers discovered there was not enough time to secure the required licenses.

About Saturday’s canceled race in India, an F1 Rocks spokesperson commented: “Every conceivable effort had been made for the concert to go ahead today, but in view of public safety and in consultation with DNA and representatives from Metallica, the decision was made to cancel the show.”

News like this does suck for the fans and band. And after seeing yet again other riot at a Metallica show, I’m wondering even more about our previous Metallica riot experiments and explorations into the band’s impact on it’s fans.

We already know that fans in countries like Iraq believe that seeing Metallica and experiencing heavy-metal music live is worth dying for.

And I know it’s not just a heavy-metal thing because we’ve seen the same thing happen in genres too. For example, the scene turned violent when hip hop fans at this Canada show, this NYC rap concert and this Drake concert rioted too.

And was also sucks is that after watching this India concert footage, we’ll unfortunately to add these unruly fans to our yearly “behaving badly” list.

But really?

What’s the reason for all this rioting?

Is it our raging and uncontrollable concert fan emotions, the band, the music, the police, the promoter, the Metallica-starved culture or a mix of all of the above?

Were you at the F1 Metallica concert to witness the riot? Have thoughts about what causes concert riots like these? Let us know what you think so we can include your thoughts and stories in a future episode of Live Fix Radio as we take a deeper look at this crazy concert rioting.

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Why Did Fans Riot At Canceled Drake Concert In NYC?


Concert fan behavior continues to fascinate me. And though yesterday’s riot after the canceled Drake concert in NYC is nothing to be proud of for any concert fan, it’s still yet other curious case of concert fans gone wild that we’re more than happy to examine.
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What’s Making Fans Riot at Metallica Concerts?


The two riots at Metallica concerts in the last couple months don’t make sense. And, as sensational as both situations are, the whole thing still seems a bit odd because it wasn’t the fans inside the venue who were rioting.  And there also seems to be a cultural pattern developing.
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The Best of Live Fix 2009: What You Loved The Most


From Oprah Flash Mobs and Bon Iver tattoos to U2’s intimate Claw stage and mourning Michael Jackson, it was clear that we had some pretty amazing experiences at concerts in 2009.

So how do we put all our experiences in perspective? Was there one moment that defined our concert experiences in 2009? Was there one event or topic that you loved reading about the most on Live Fix?
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How To Shoot A Concert When A Riot Breaks Out


As fans we all remember our first concert experience.

But when you decide to cross that line and write about or photograph live music for the first time everything changes.

I’ll always remember the first concert I reviewed.

Though I was excited, nervous and anxious, I can’t say that a riot broke out during the first show I ever covered.

And I’m not sure how I would’ve responded if the crowd started throwing bottles and glasses and the cops came and started beating fans down and cuffing them.

I know what Colleen endured when she photographed the Wu Tang Clan at Rock the Bells 2007.  She was caught in the middle as she dodged Hennessey bottles and verbal missiles as the Clan incited and sparred with fans in the first row.

So this year at Rock the Bells 2009, Colleen swapped photo gig stories  in the photo pit and heard a compelling “first live concert photo gig” story as she chatted with fellow photographer Jamie Sands.

Necro didn’t show so fans rioted

Jamie’s first photo gig involved shooting Necro, a rapper with an infamous reputation for spitting vicious and brutal rhymes about death and violence. I had heard about the show when reported that a riot broke out when the Brooklyn-born artist didn’t show up to the downtown Vancover club.  So when Colleen said that Jamie was there, I was hoping he’d share his experience.

I didn’t get a chance to speak with Jamie at Rock the Bells, but we connected via email and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about what it was like that night and how the experience has impacted him since.

What was the vibe like before, during and after the riot?

The vibe before hand was kinda tense. Not because the performer hadn’t shown up, but because this was my first assignment for a publication–nothing a beer or two couldn’t fix though. During the riot was a different story. [The press ] had been informed Necro would not be showing at about 10:45) but they didn’t tell the crowd until 12:15 so by the they made the announcement the crowd had plenty of time to get tired of listening to the DJ and even more time to consume lots of liquor.

Emotionz a local MC came out to announce that Necro would not be there that night and as soon as the first glass was thrown it was pretty much a free for all. I was lucky to have already been informed that he was a no show for the event and ended up taking to higher grounds to avoid having my camera smashed.

After the police arrived people were getting slammed to the floor and pulled out of the club. I stayed and shot photos until I was told to leave the club. I made my way outside and there were police everywhere and a lot of people laying on the ground in cuffs. I shot photos until I was basically removed after shuffling around angry police for a good 20 minutes.

Had you ever been in a situation like this before?

I’ve never been in any sort of situation like this. Since this was my first show where I was there as a photographer, it was all a pretty big shock to me. I go to shows pretty frequently as a regular fan and have never seen anything get out of hand like this did. It was all exciting but I had it in my head that I needed to have like 50 usable images, though I probably shot close to 200 shots of flying chairs, tables and police. I took a lot of photos but there’s a lot of good stuff in there but a lot of useless images, too.

What were you most afraid of?

I didn’t have a lot of thoughts aside from “shoot, shoot, shoot.” I had already gotten to the upper balcony since I was pre-warned about the show so I think my main concern was the police taking my camera or memory card or not getting a usable image for the editor [of ABORT Magazine]. Aside from that the people rioting were the least of my worries.

How has this experience influenced how you shoot or feel during a live music event?

It honestly hasn’t effected the way I feel about shows at all. I still go to shows on a regular basis. It has effected how often I shoot concerts though because after I had submitted my shots, decided to keep me around. It’s given me a huge opportunity to build a portfolio and has really pushed me to better myself as a photographer. I just recently launched my website where I have a whole bunch of photos and update it on a regular basis.

Thanks to Jamie for telling his story and providing the riot photo above. I’m glad he was able to shoot and not get hurt. 

I’d like to invite any other photographers to share your concert stories, too. Get more info via Tell Your Story.

As one final video note

There’s a flood of videos on YouTube documenting the Necro riot event from various perspectives, but Jamie provided this video below of the riot as it unfolded and eventually ended up outside.

Warning: I share these videos with you not to shock you. And honestly it pains me to see a riot break out just because an artist doesn’t show up. But the reason I share this video is because it captures the emotions of Jamie’s story. So I hope you enjoy it in that context.

The actual riot footage starts at 3:03 and the video does have language and images that might not be cool for some viewers, so due proceed with caution.

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