"Someone's going to get shot" was probably the last phrase one would expect to hear at a free concert featuring Hanson and a former cast member of the tween classic Degrassi. But alas, amid a sudden pre-concert riot, a man uttered those very words to my friend, who was just trying to get footage of the fighting for a YouTube montage set to "Mmmbop." Last night at around 6 pm, hoards of Drake fans and upwards of two Hanson fans flooded Paper Magazines's free concert at the Southstreet Seaport, and madness ensued.
Mild violence began when about 30 bold youths clad in baggy shorts and mini skirts bravely shimmed up onto a roof of an old ticket office. A sign in the rickety building's window read 'built in 1923,' and I couldn't help but wonder if in the 20s, the structure had served a better use than as a perch for overzealous teenagers trying to climb their way towards a better view of the Seaport's tiny stage. Not only was the performance area preposterously small, but there was also nearly no space on the pier for the multitudes of fans, as well as relatively no elevation for the onlookers.
As a microphone-wielding announcer explained that that the roof-dwellers were delaying the concert from starting, tensions among the audience began to build. The crowd's frustration appeared in the form of open, spraying water bottles, which were hurled with increasingly intensity towards the roof-kids. Seeing their innovative elevation-plot foiled, the kids now desperately searched for exit strategies as water, soda and beer continued to rain down on them.
After the roof debacle, the palpable unrest of the crowd grew steadily. Ninja sonic, the first opener, seemed to have a few false starts with the crowd who continued screaming out unruly demands (mostly for "DRAKE!"). This vacuum of entertainment left the nearly 25,000 fans with nothing to do but stew in their own restlessness. At one point a young creative man began doing sit-ups off an awning to the raucous encouragement from the crowd-- everyone was on edge.
The actual violence occurred about an hour into the wait for Hanson to take the stage, a hefty prospect in itself. There seemed to be a scuffle between the fans of the upper level of the restaurant UNO's and the onlookers below. What must have began as a misunderstanding quickly devolved into plates of food and metal chairs being hurled off the balcony onto the masses below. One young lady threw a metal table down onto the crowd.
The venue and event planners was mostly to blame; their planning proved sadly inadequate for the number of fans and enthusiasm generated by one of the country's most listened-to pop stars of the moment. Further curious and unhelpful was the initial delay of the concert, which pushed the already rowdy crowd into wildness.