Climate change is making some outdoor shows hellish this summer – Rolling Stone

it’s hot. This doesn’t just feel hot, it’s really hot. This summer, the temperature at 23 of our 32 outdoor shows was above the historical average. We felt it, our team felt it, our fans felt it and our bottom line felt it. Climate change-induced heat waves in the United States and Europe are having widespread adverse effects on the music touring industry.

In Little Rock, Arkansas, our contract called for a 60-minute performance. Twenty minutes into the set we decided it was no longer safe to play. Playing music in over 90 degree weather, under a tin roof, made the stage feel like 105, but it wasn’t even close to the sweatiest experience. The physical fatigue of performing in Phoenix in 107 degree heat was almost unbearable (even though it was dry heat).

While we (the band) have to play for a few hours every night, our team wakes up at 7am exposing themselves to the heat and sun for over 18 hours a day.

At 10 AJR concerts this year, the venue structure meant fans had to wait outside in the heat for one to four hours to enter the hall. In Salt Lake City, I rode a golf cart, bringing bottled water to the parched crowd as they waited in line. It’s definitely not the most lasting solution, but in the moment it was better than more fans fainting.

Even still, at least 10 of our fans have collapsed from heat stress this summer, more than on any tour we’ve been on. The AJR is not the only one in this case. Rosalía interrupted a concert to make sure fans who had passed out were out of harm’s way, Eddie Vedder developed throat damage while singing during a heat wave and Carlos Santana collapsed in the middle due to heat exhaustion. That means more doctors on site, more security, more staff handing out bottled water. This is an additional expense that we are happy to help pay; I’m proud to say that at AJR, we approach our touring impacts independent of any financial loss.

But other acts — and other promoters — may not feel the same way. And the commercial pressures triggered by climate change are increasing.

Adam Met hands out water bottles to fans before a show in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Austin Roa

Merchandise can be a major profit center, but even sales are not exempt from the effects of heat. Some artists sell towels to lie on, battery-powered fans to keep you cool, and reusable water bottles in keeping with the sustainability theme. But for many artists, the top-selling items are t-shirts and sweatshirts. When touring AJR (and almost every other artist), there is a substantial price difference between the two, due to the cost of the goods themselves. Sweatshirts are much more expensive and they make more money.

At nearly every one of these hotter gigs, the revenue percentage for sweatshirts has gone down and the revenue percentage for t-shirts has gone up. It makes perfect sense: warmer weather means fewer clothes. Fewer sweaters means less money for the band, the promoter and the venue. Our merchandise sales throughout the tour were down 7% from average. Almost all of the loss came from extraordinarily hot cities.

For us, physical hardship is just as much of a deterrent to touring as financial hardship. Developers and venues are feeling the financial effects more than the physical ones, but that should be enough for them to take action on climate change. For starters, that means focusing on renewable energy to power venues, reduce waste, and sell locally sourced food and beverages.

This may in fact be the coldest summer of the rest of our lives. We need industry-wide standards, unless everyone wants to see fans, teams, bands and their bottom lines even more impacted by the effects of climate change.

Adam Met is the bassist for multi-platinum band AJR, holds a doctorate in human rights and sustainability, and is executive director of climate research and action organization Planet Reimagined. This article was made possible through research and analysis by Planet Reimagined research associate Jack Dimmock.

Teresa H. Sadler