A highly-anticipated Phoebe Bridgers concert at RBC Echo Beach in Toronto turned ugly on Tuesday evening, according to concertgoers who shared their experiences on social media.
Some fans said the event felt “unsafe,” while others described a chaotic scene prior to the show that involved people being “violently trampled” and requiring medical attention.
Toronto Paramedic Services says it transported two patients with minor injuries from Echo Beach on Tuesday night.
A spokesperson for Live Nation Canada told the Star that “there was no trampling at the venue.” They provided the following statement to the Star:
“Last night’s show was proactively paused a few times so medical staff could assist fans who were experiencing dehydration. Safety is always our top priority and we worked in close collaboration with medical authorities throughout the evening.”
The Star spoke to Sammy Talukder, a 16-year-old from Kitchener, who was one of the dozens of fans who camped out overnight in order to get a good spot for the performance.
Talukder arrived around 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning. He says more people started arriving around 6 a.m. Videos on social media showed long lineups of eager fans braving heavy rain several hours before the venue opened.
Just after 5:30 p.m., event staff informed fans that they would be letting people into the venue in small groups of about 20, said Talukder. However, he says that after fans cleared security, the staff did not allow anyone to approach the stage, creating a large bottleneck of “100 to 200 people.”
Once the event staff finally allowed fans to approach the stage, people reported that a violent scene ensued as people rushed toward the stage, Talukder said.
“It was basically a stampede,” Talukder told the Star. “People were pushing other people and then everyone started running. I lost all my friends, I was alone. People were falling, my foot was stomped on by some girl.”
Talukder also said that he saw people being punched and physically assaulted.
“I felt so scared and unsafe. And I was alone from all my friends. It was really scary.”
Talukder said many fans — some of whom were bleeding — were taken out of the crowd even before the show started.
Several fans also confirmed to the Star that Bridgers was forced to pause the show multiple times to deal with medical emergencies in the crowd.
The Live Nation Canada statement said the show was “proactively paused a few times later in the evening so medical staff could assist fans who were mainly dehydrated.”
Located on the waterfront at the Ontario Place park ground in downtown Toronto, RBC Echo Beach opened in 2011. The venue, which Ticketmaster describes as a “smaller-scale summertime alternative” to the 16,000-seat Budweiser Stage amphitheatre, holds an estimated 4,000 fans.
But despite its smaller size, Talukder says the venue felt “very unorganized.”
“I’ve been to so many concerts that have basically the same kind of fan base — like Olivia Rodrigo at Massey Hall, for example — and that felt very safe and organized,” he says.
“But after this experience, I don’t know if I will feel safe returning to Echo Beach, at least not lining up ahead of the show. Maybe if there’s an artist I really like maybe I’ll show up late, because I don’t want to deal with that again.”
Hailing from Pasadena, California, the 27-year-old Bridgers gained popularity in recent years as one of the most acclaimed and beloved indie singer-songwriters. Following the release of her most recent album, 2020s “Punisher,” she received four Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist.
Adam Feibel, a Toronto-based music writer who was at the concert, says the crowd at Echo Beach on Tuesday skewed younger — he says the audience was mostly made up of teenagers or very young adults.
“Fans of Phoebe Bridgers have a very intense emotional connection to the music and to the artist,” Feibel told the Star. “She’s not the most popular artist out there, so the fan base isn’t as massive as someone like Taylor Swift but for a lot of Phoebe Bridgers fans, that fandom is similarly intense.”
“Someone might expect something like this to happen at a rock, metal or punk show, or hip-hop, or something more musically and physically intense. I think this is a learning opportunity, that this can happen with an artist whose music is as relatively subdued as Phoebe Bridgers,” he said. “You add in long lineups, big crowds, dehydration, anxiety, and things can easily get dangerous. Venues and their staff at every show have to be prepared and make sure people are safe and protected.”
Feibel told the Star that he did not witness the stampede, but did see several fans that required medical attention.
“I’ve been to a lot of shows in my life and was lucky enough that none of them ever had to stop for a medical emergency,” Feibel said. “And then it happened multiple times in one night? We just had to wonder what was going on.”
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