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Is the use of fog machines really necessary at a rock concert or a safety hazard

Is this a visual accent or does it hinder the viewer
Is this a visual accent or does it hinder the viewer
Chris Zambello

What’s the deal with those fog machines at rock concerts? Are they there to simulate something or are they a curtain for band members to hide behind?

I never really understood the reasoning behind the use of fog machines at a rock concert. To me, it seems more like a hinderance than a visual accent. It makes it extremely difficult to view the band on stage. Isn’t that what fans paid money to see, the band performing onstage? I went to a concert last night and saw Collective Soul who is notorious for using fog machines at their shows. Now I’m not here to bash Collective Soul, they are a great band and have been for over 20 years. They have a huge library of hits, probably more than you would think until you saw them live. Ed Rolland, I don’t know where you get the energy that you put out during the show, but it’s incredible. I just don’t see the reasoning behind the fog.

I’ve been a firefighter for over 20 years now. In the fire service we use fog machines during training drills to simulate smoky conditions inside a structure to make it somewhat realistic so the firefighters can practice utilizing their skills to work around the lack of visibility. It is this same lack of visibility that is being created on stage using the same machine. Is the artist trying to simulate a smoky condition? And if so, why? What if the venue suddenly caught fire and real smoke started filling the venue? Would fans know that it is real smoke and not the fog? I could see that hampering the time to realization, thus the time to start leaving the building causing a serious safety hazard. We all remember all to well the 100 people who lost their lives at a club in West Warwick, Rhode Island during a Great White show in 2003. In reviewing the footage of that fire, valuable seconds were wasted as people thought the smoke was part of the show. Fans cheered the band louder and louder until the flames started rolling across the ceiling. Cheers turned into panic and we all know the end result.

Besides the safety factor, I, as a fan, want to see the bands as clearly as possible. Tickets are very expensive. Fans paid good money to see these bands perform live on stage. I don’t want to have to strain my eyes to see the drummer in the back or a silhouette of the guitar player during his solo behind a thick layer of fog and backlighting. I want to see you guys play. I love a great light show with lasers and LED’s and even pyro. Those always enhance the fan’s experience. But when we can’t see beyond the fog, it’s lackluster.