On Sunday night during a normal, mindless scroll through Instagram, I receive da notification that my dad started broadcasting on Facebook Live. Knowing that my dad was in Vegas rocking his ass off at a country music festival, I smiled, and became the sole viewer of his shenanigans.
A few months ago, I wrote an op-ed in response to the act of terrorism that occurred at the Ariana Grande show in London. As an avid concert-goer, the news certainly hit close to home. You just never think that this kind of thing would let itself in through your front door.
The image appearing on my dad’s livestream of Route 91 Harvest was unclear. I could make out some sort of large tent, with people running through and behind the obstacles that filled it. I could hear my stepmom yelling something about the police, telling my dad they had to go.
The absolute last thing I expected to hear next was the firing of an automatic rifle. The video didn’t last long. I called my dad, and after one failed connection, I made it through. The call didn’t last long, either. I scoured Google searches and Twitter feeds for answers. Any answers.
A few minutes later and my dad, an ex-cop and nosy Midwesterner, is back on the pixelated scene. Now I’m yelling at my phone, telling my dad to run. And he did run, just not in the right direction. The connection drops once again, in time with my heart.
After shaking vigorously for a solid twenty minutes, or an eternity in times of tragedy, I receive a text. “We are okay,” it said. I break down, and my dog tends to the tears running down my cheeks. A few minutes later, the photo of my dad and I eating giant pickles at the Renaissance Fair appears on my phone once again.
I answer, find my breath again and listen as my dad tries to find his.
I watched the initial statistics roll in during the first hours of Monday, already knowing that they were far grander than what they were reporting. I watched people spew out their jokes about OJ Simpson’s parole being connected to the act before the shooter’s assault rifle had cooled. I watched the endless barrage of comments on live news streams as people stated their complete lack of shock that something like this has happened yet again.
It’s so easy to dictate the conversation when you’re not using your voice to try and get in contact with loved ones, isn’t it?
As it goes, music is one of the few things that can heal the wounds that events like these cause. So, yes. Let’s have conversations about what we should be doing next. But make damn sure that those conversations include concert plans. The folks at Route 91 Harvest made a choice to go out and live their lives through music. We need to focus more on what the people at the concert were doing, and less about what the man in the window of Mandalay Bay was doing. We know what he was doing. We’re giving the power to the wrong side of the situation when we fixate on him. That man not only stole the lives of innocent people, but also the moments they were living in, and for.
So let’s talk about those moments. Let’s talk about those wild memories and the conversations that battled the booming bass speakers. Let’s talk about the music that brought 22,000 strangers together for a weekend of dancing in cowboy boots over empty beer cans. Let’s talk. Better yet, let’s sing.