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Boston Calling music festival responds to complaints of "unsafe" crowd conditions

"People were dropping like flies." Concert-goers say Boston Calling overcrowded, dangerous
"People were dropping like flies." Concert-goers say Boston Calling overcrowded, dangerous 03:00

BOSTON - Boston Calling is responding to complaints that a packed crowd on the last day of the three-day music festival created an "unsafe" situation for fans in Allston.

The festival said in a statement Tuesday that it wanted to "acknowledge feedback from Sunday."

"While attendee count was several thousand below the official capacity rating of the site, we never want anyone to feel uncomfortable or unsafe at the show," the festival said. "We will continue to work with public officials and our operations team to improve the experience, layout and ultimately create a better environment for everyone."

Sunday's lineup featured headliners The Killers and Hozier, along with several other popular acts including Chappell Roan, Megan Thee Stallion and The Revivalists.

drone video shared by the festival from Roan's set shows shows a sea of people at the Harvard Athletic Complex.  

"I thought I was going to be trampled to death in this crowd," one of the top comments on the video reads. "Unsafe and too crowded for this area."

"There was no getting through"

"There was no getting through like as an individual or as a group," said Margot Lee, who attended the festival Sunday. 

This was Lee's third Boston Calling and says most people showed up to see the four headliners. All four acts were back-to-back on side-by-side stages. Lee says the other side of the festival was more open.

"That was the problem was that you had probably about 40,000 people stuck in one area instead of it being spread out throughout the complex like they were hoping," Lee said.   

2024 Boston Calling Music Festival
The Revivalists perform during the 2024 Boston Calling Music Festival at Harvard Athletic Complex on May 26, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts.  Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Boston Calling

"People were dropping like flies"

Lee said the crowd situation during Hozier's set was "dangerous."

"Someone near us got sick and the whole crowd began to rush and press into each other to get away and give the girl space - the problem is there was nowhere to go," Lee said. "When we tried to leave we were stuck, along with the thousands of people around us."

Alexa Nikiforou went all three days this year. "The amount of people that were there on Sunday was at the very least double," said Nikiforou.

She recorded videos of people being pulled out on stretchers Sunday. "I found someone that was near me that actually got separated from their friends and had a panic attack," Nikiforou said. "And then during Hozier's performance people were dropping like flies and getting pulled out in stretchers back-to-back-to-back." 

The festival's statement on Tuesday did not stop the social media criticism. "People were not safe on Sunday and if that's your capacity you need to lower it," one person wrote. "Take accountability."

"I completely agree that you should expect it to be hot and you should expect it to be crowded and be prepared for that," Lee said. "The issue was that it became impossible for people to get out safely." 

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said there were far more EMS transfers on Sunday than any other day of the festival. She is pledging to work with the festival to provide any additional resources if needed next year. 

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