Eminem’s Bonaroo set last week made headlines after audio effects used in his performance of “Kill You” caused several concertgoers to think they were hearing live gunshots. The affected attendees, some of them with sizable social media followings, then took to Twitter to criticize the singer using such an effect in a culture currently overwhelmed with gun violence. A spokesman for Eminem later clarified that the effect was not gunshots, but rather “a pyrotechnic concussion which creates a loud boom.”
“He has used this effect — as have hundreds of other artists — in his live show for over 10 years, including previous U.S. festival dates, without complaint,” explained Eminem’s manager, Paul Rosenberg.
The response’s brusqueness made it sound as if Em likely wouldn’t be changing his set to accommodate the discomfort, and, as a pre-show message displayed at this weekend’s Firefly Festival in Dover, Delaware makes clear, that’s most certainly the case.
“If you are easily frightened by loud noises or offended by explicit lyrics you shouldn’t be here,” read a warning projected on the stage’s accompanying screens.
As we previously noted, this issue isn’t the fault of Eminem or any other artist to use the effect, but rather an illustration of our nation’s collective fear that we could be gunned down at any second. While schools are undoubtedly seeing the majority of the violence, festivalgoers will forever live in the shadow of the terror attacks at both Paris’ Bataclan and Las Vegas’ Route 91 Festival, both of which resulted in the loss of of dozens of lives. Our world is different now, and the questions of how that impacts art and performance is one we’re still navigating.
See a photo of Eminem’s Firefly stage message below.