Concert organisers need to do better
This year, summer kickstarted a slew of concerts varying in size and lineups, all holding a singular promise to deliver an experience worth your time and money. Ever since the end of the pandemic, I have developed a hobby of attending these shows and in 2023, more international artists seem to be interested in performing in Bangladesh.
While this has led to a drastic increase in audience interest, some event organisers have already come under fire for their subpar management of the crowd they sold tickets to.
As an audience and an ardent fan of music, attending these concerts feels like entering a sacred space. But when these spaces become wrought with unbearable ventilation and hour-long queues just to enter the overcrowded halls, it can be safe to say that the organisers did not plan this through. This was the case in Anuv Jain's recent concert in Dhaka, which, according to a report by The Daily Star, had an audience of over 6,000 people.
The hall the concert took place in is marketed to have a capacity of a little over 3,000. Why the organisers thought to sell more than double the capacity of the hall's worth of tickets is a question with multifaceted answers, but the end result remains the same – it is the audience who have to suffer through an uncomfortable time just to see their beloved artists.
But where does this lead us? One comment many parties make whenever faced with a messy concert featuring an international artist is that Dhaka does not have the infrastructure for large-scale concerts. There is truth to this. Most indoor halls in Bangladesh do not have the capacity for gigantic gatherings, and outdoor concerts would be an even worse idea in the heat of Dhaka summers. Yet, in what concerts we do see organised, there is a veritable presence of sloppy management which, when confronted, is handwaved away by organising bodies.
This is precisely what happened with the organising bodies behind the Anuv Jain concert. When asked for answers, none were found. Instead, certain managers went on social media to complain about the ungrateful behaviour coming from the audience. As a frequent presence in these spaces, my safety and basic needs are not things I view as demanding. Having these ideas echoed by organisers instead of seeing any level of acknowledgement of mismanagement is terrifying. If these same people are running the business, how can we guarantee a good time for the audience who spent so much just to be there?
Recently, another show featuring Taalpatar Shepai, a legendary Indian act, was also hosted in Dhaka. With a crowd not nearly as thick as in an Anuv Jain show and a choice of venue with far better ventilation, this was a show met with an overwhelmingly positive reception. While some may argue that the lower crowd density simply means the show was not as popular, the organisers reported having sold out the venue nearly two weeks before the concert date.
Managing sales and picking out the right venue is crucial if Dhaka is headed down the road of indoor concerts. Yet, if this sloppy management is to continue, it most certainly won't be sustainable for these companies.
Raian loves shouting.