Kanye West's NYC concert that wasn't – did fans cause unsafe conditions?

After rumors began that Kanye West was planning to perform unexpectedly in New York City, thousands of music fans gathered, but some expressed concern over their determination.

Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
Kanye West accepts the video vanguard award at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles in 2015.

Following an announcement that Kanye West would be holding an unexpected performance in New York City, thousands of hopeful concert attendees showed up and the night finished with what some called unsafe conditions. 

Mr. West was scheduled to perform as part of the Governers Ball music festival, but he didn't because of inclement weather. 

Virgil Abloh, creative director for West, then tweeted,

Fans then began to appear at the East Village’s Webster Hall. West himself later tweeted that the show was “sold out” and Webster Hall tweeted that “there is no late show at Webster Hall tonight. Please get home safely.” Mr. Abloh also posted on Instagram that the show was “cancelled due to safety priority.” 

Some at the scene expressed concern over how those hoping to attend the concert acted – in short, that seeing one of your favorite artists is not worth possibly injuring others.

“Even before the around-the-block line devolved into a near riot situation, the crowd was functioning at troubling levels of carelessness,” Billboard writer Joe Lynch wrote. “…Every time [the doors of Webster Hall opened,] the crowd blasted forward like an army regiment making a last-ditch effort at conquering an enemy stronghold, several people could be heard fruitlessly shouting warnings that someone would get injured or killed if the crowd didn't ease up.”

Meanwhile, Guardian reporter Amber Jamieson wrote, “At times the crowd of thousands ran en masse towards the entrance, creating a dangerous crush. A girl squashed in the crowd was carried by friends and laid upon a parked car, her foot covered in blood. Fans standing on cars cracked one windscreen. To escape the free-for-all, fans jumped on to the metal covers of trash cans, fences of apartment buildings and the sign of a billiards hall across the street.” 

The possible show demonstrated the passion fans can feel for a favorite artist but also how quickly the situation can escalate, as noted by Jon Caramanica of the New York Times (who also wrote that he found the gathering to be “as spontaneous large-scale eruptions of fandom go[,] exceedingly low-key," showing that accounts of the event differed). 

“Thousands of young people clogging Manhattan streets proved to be untameable, even by Mr. West,” Mr. Caramanica wrote.

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