Tame Impala recently issued a warning on Instagram to concertgoers about intense lighting effects after some audience members at a recent show in New Zealand suffered seizures. Kevin Parker and the band posted the note on their Instagram stories on October 16th, warning fans susceptible to seizures to be mindful during their shows because of the lighting effects.
The band said there are some “quite intense visual moments in our show, so please be careful if you think you might be sensitive to such things.” Tame Impala also implored people to help fellow concertgoers if they see someone in trouble. “We’ve seen that making some space and a path is really helpful (this goes for all kinds of medical emergencies).”
A couple of people experienced a seizure at a Tame Impala show in New Zealand in October, but they were treated on-site, and the emergency wasn’t major. However, the incident is a good reminder to music fans, bands, and musicians about specific visual effects that could be harmful in some cases.
Exposure to flashing lights or some visual patterns can trigger seizures for about 3% of people with epilepsy, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. Photosensitive epilepsy is typically more common in kids and teens and becomes less frequent with age, with relatively fewer cases in the mid-twenties.
Most people aren’t aware they’re sensitive to strobe lights or flickering lights until they have the seizure, and they may never develop epilepsy with spontaneous seizures. Instead, these folks may only have seizures triggered by certain light conditions. Others disturbed by flickering lights may not have seizures but other symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, or headaches. In most cases, these people don’t have epilepsy.
Strobe lights, flickering light effects, and weird visual patterns have been a mainstay of psychedelic rock concerts and music videos for a long time and will probably continue to be. These types of effects are also heavily used in electronic and EDM music. However, it’s just a reminder to be careful, especially for bands who employ these effects. Most times, all it takes is a simple warning before the concert or an intro text before someone clicks play on a video.