By Matt Scott
Update: Promoter Jack Trash has responded to the incident.
I've been raging my face off at EDM shows for the past four years, and I can say without a doubt that Steve Aoki this past Saturday was the most reckless situation I've yet to experience.
Don't get me wrong -- the show was on legendary levels of awesome. From cannons of confetti to getting blasted in the face by flying cake, the Aokify America Tour (review here) was worth every bruise and every penny. That being said, I'm concerned about the future of EDM here in Minneapolis if event organizers and club owners host nights that get out of control in the way that Saturday did.
The crowd was a swollen mass of rage. Before the show even started, we were all battling for space to gasp for a breath of air before being crushed to the point of nearly passing out. A random clan of us guys had to momentarily surround a group of girls to protect them from the crowd's rib-shattering pressure. Steve Aoki didn't even get through his FIRST track before the fans busted the barricade to the stage. Security cut the music for like five minutes to fix the problem.
His set felt like a two-hour goal line stance with everyone pushing and shoving for their lives. At one point the crowd made a huge lunge forward and tons of people were slammed to the floor. I landed right above a girl whose leg was pinned underneath a pile of people and she screamed in agony. I honestly felt like a first responder when I told her everything would be okay and to just relax while I tried prying her leg out.
In Jack Spencer's review of the night, he noted:
Quickly after Steve Aoki arose from behind his glowing stage playing "No Beef," wearing a vest illuminated by colored lights, the music suddenly stopped. Security flooded the front stage as staff attempted to repair a barricade that had been broken thanks to a barrage of unruly fans.
"Epic Nightclub, you need to invest in a better barricade!" said Aoki amidst the atypical backdrop of silence. "You guys gotta be careful. Let them fix the barricades so I can play music again!"
City Pages photographer Anna Gulbrandsen was at the front of the stage at this point:
The photo pit remained intact for Waka Flocka (although we were only allowed in there for the first song, he spent most of his short set rapping from in the crowd), but by the time I went back up there for Aoki the people in the front row were visibly uncomfortable from the sold-out crowd pushing forward. Seconds after Aoki began his set, the barricade was pushed entirely forward until it was angled against the stage, with the crowd in the front spilling forward.
The bouncers were trying to push it back upright, but the photographers were all in a panic trying to jump out of the way and on stage. It happened too fast and I ended up stuck down there with not enough room to pull myself on stage. Security and other photographers were yelling, "Pull her up, pull her up!" as the barricade kind of had me pinned against stage. I considered ducking down underneath, but eventually we made enough room and I was able to sneak up and out of there. Photographers, bouncers, and some in the front row ended up toppling forward on to the stage. Aoki stopped his set after the first song and pleaded with the crowd to take a few steps back and help out anyone who had fallen. Not sure if anyone was seriously injured -- I was the only one stuck and I just have a nasty bruise today, luckily nothing else. The security used their legs to brace the barricade back upright after that. Pretty effing crazy!
You don't have to take my word for it, countless people have posted their horror stories from Saturday night on the event's Facebook page. It sounds like there were plenty of terrible experiences dealing with Epic's security as well. It's disappointing because EDM shows are an awesome alternative to the lamestream entertainment saturating the Twin Cities, and situations like these do nothing but turn people off to the scene.
A word to my fellow ragers: look out for one another. Obviously go HAM, but chill out on the pushing and shoving. I saw so many girls get trampled and elbowed in the face because bros were getting on maniac levels. Join the mosh pit (you'll probably find me) for an appropriate place to get extra rowdy.
A word to event organizers: keep us safe. Many things are out of your control at these shows, but ticket sales are not one of them. It appeared to me that Epic wasn't within the fire code regulations for capacity.
Did I love every minute of it? Absolutely, but a lot of people left in tears due to injury. I hope next time Steve Aoki comes to Minneapolis we can blast off at a venue with enough space for everyone to rage properly!
Update: Read a response to the incident from Sound in Motion's Jack Trash, who promoted the event, here.
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