Tuesday, 3rd September 2019 19:38

Barricade Collapse at Bumbershoot Music Festival

Four concert attendees suffered minor injuries when a 4-foot-high steel barricade collapsed at the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival at Seattle Center on Saturday.

Seattle Fire Department Public Information Officer, David Cuerpo, reported that the Department received a call for assistance at approximately 10:00 pm on Saturday night. The call was one of multiple 911 calls that were made by concert attendees after the steel barricade collapsed against the weight of the crowd.

Bumbershoot Festival

The Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival takes place at Seattle Center every year over Labor Day weekend. The three-day event, which is now in its 49th year, is a multidisciplinary arts festival that hosts music, theater, literature, dance, comedy, visual and performing artists, fine arts exhibits and much more. Festival attendees roam the grounds, going to various stages to see their favorite artists. Saturday was the second day of the event.

On Saturday night, when the barricade collapsed, five bands were scheduled to play on the Fisher Green Main Stage. The Access, Kiana Lede and Clairo had already made it through their sets without incident. Shortly after 10:00 pm, when electronic music artist Jai Wolf took the stage, a steel barricade gave way and collapsed under the weight of dozens of fans.

Report of the incident

The collapse of the barricade was apparently caused when a throng of excited fans pressed against it. Jai Wolf stopped his set when he noticed that concert attendees who had been in the front rows had been knocked to the ground by people behind them. Wolf noticed that people in the crowd were falling over each other as the trampling continued with momentum.

First responders made their way through the crowd of approximately 3,000 people to reach the injured who were near the stage. They evaluated 25 people onsite and verified that none of the attendees had been hurt. Four of those present were sent to Harborview Medical Center, where they were treated for minor injuries. All four persons have been released from the emergency room.

The fallen barricade separated the concert stage from the crowd by several hundred feet. There were safety concerns about continuing the concert without the barricade and Jai Wolf cancelled the rest of his set. Louis the Child and Rezz, who were scheduled to perform after Wolf, also postponed their appearances.

Rain checks in the aftermath

A new barricade was erected at the Fisher Green stage for day three of the concert. Jai Wolf and others agreed to perform on the following day, and festival organizers stated that tickets from the Saturday event would be honored at the makeup concert on Sunday. Jai Wolf's Sunday set was scheduled for 6:55 pm at Memorial Stadium.

Several of the attendees later reflected that officials had not implemented measures to prevent overcrowding at the event. Some attendees also commented that first responders seemed to take a long time to get to the injured from the time when the calls for assistance were initially made.

A spokesperson at Seattle Center will debrief the staff on Tuesday. Seattle Center officials have also stated that the venue will stop using that style barricade until an investigation can be completed into the reasons for its collapse. Saturday night's incident was the first of its kind to occur in the festival's 49-year history.