We don’t know where the next mass shooting will occur. That’s the thing about acts of terror like the one at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, whatever their ultimate motivation. When they’re successful, people are terrified to go about their days, knowing that violence could happen anywhere. Creating the sense that normally safe, peaceful, and joyful environments could so easily become the site of the next unspeakable horror is part of a tragedy’s impact.
That means that, if you’ve got tickets to attend the Austin City Limits Festival this weekend, the fun weekend you’d planned to spend with Jay-Z, Chance the Rapper, and Gorillaz might not sound like a carefree escape any longer. (An updated report from Tuesday that the shooter may have previously positioned himself to attack a Chance concert in Las Vegas in September may add to the discomfort.) While the festival’s security has long been fairly beefy—visitors pass through metal detectors every time they enter the grounds, and there’s a high police presence—festival promoter C3 seems to recognize that some of the attendees are likely to have a different feeling about the event now than they did before the tragedy in Las Vegas.
To that end, the festival quietly announced this week that ticket-holders who have changed their minds about attending the festival have an out: they can contact Front Gate Tickets and receive a refund.
At press, there’s no information about how many people are taking the festival up on the offer, but it comes at a convenient time for people who may have already decided to sell prior to the shooting in Las Vegas. Over the weekend, the secondhand market for Austin City Limits wristbands via Craigslist had shown signs that this was likely to be a down year; it wasn’t rare to see weekend passes selling for 30% off the face value online, and those numbers tend to fall further as it gets closer to the festival in a seller’s market. The announcement from C3 should have the effect of stabilizing the secondhand market. Now, instead of taking what they can get for the tickets, anyone who’s been holding onto them will be able to get their initial investment back directly from the broker. Ultimately, that’s good for the festival—it’s hard for C3 to justify a $225 face value for a weekend pass if by Friday afternoon, they’re going for a hundred bucks—and good for people who, for whatever reason, aren’t going to be able to enjoy ACL as planned. (It’ll also presumably bail out a few scalpers who otherwise would have taken a loss.)
In any case, this is a smart policy for C3 and ACL, in the face of a grim reality. It shows a willingness to meet the festival’s attendees where they are, when news threatens to make the joy of going to a festival more stressful than fun.