Last night, the Police shut down the 1st night of the BLOC Festival in East London.
This morning, a statement appeared on BLOC Weekend’s website:
“By now everyone will have heard that Bloc 2012 was closed due to crowd safety concerns.
We are all absolutely devastated that this happened, but the safety of everyone on site was paramount.
Given the situation on the ground, we feel that it was the right decision to end the show early.
Bloc will not open on Saturday 7th July so please don’t come to the site.
Stand by for full information on refunds.”
Since then Twitter, Facebook, and various other music forums have begun unravelling a tale of disorganized stages, 2 hour queues and mass disappointment. While it’s too early to pinpoint accurately what went wrong, Dummymag’s early report painted a picture of “massive crowd and ticketing problems resulted in stampedes.” However, the stories which are really shocking are coming direct from punters who paid to attend the event and are commenting on the news reports of the event.
Here are some of the worst experiences:
From The Guardian’s report, comments section:
“The reason for last night’s complete shambles lies with the promoters – tickets were vastly oversold ( I heard some security talking with police saying a 20,00 capacity event had somehow sold 40,000 tickets), the event was badly stewarded and the layout of the venue led to people funnelling into small spaces. On arrival we queued for two hours in a crush that grew more angry and volatile as the squeeze increased. After the relief of finally getting in we heard the boat was closed for the night due to overcrowding and we again queued with an angry mob for the main stage only for that to be closed after another 90 minutes of waiting. All announced by a steward on a megaphone telling people to calm down and “please don’t hurt each other as it will ruin the festival.” Apparently loads of people didn’t even gain entry at all. ”
“The festival was a total disaster, you couldnt move anywhere and people were getting crushed in crowds and ques to get in and inside it was quite scary at certain points. We queued for an hour and half to get into the event and there were already fights taking place on the way in with a really bad atmosphere everywhere as groups were just pushing past. Wristbands ran out pretty quickly which made it easier for people to break in.”
From the comments thread at factmag.com:
“Sad day for the music we love in the city we love. As an eye-witness, now at ibis city airport, it was hugely oversubscribed. We got in at 8 to find queues for every tent. By 10 it would take over an hour to see any music due to queues for tents. Regarding Hillsborough, it was close by the boat. People were terrified. People being swept, crushed and many of our group left in tears having truly feared for their lives. Strangers trying keep each other from falling and being trampled. No jokes, no sensationalism. Serious shit.”
From the comments thread on Dummymag.com:
“So, right from the start getting into any event involved massive queues. the queue for amon tobin in the main stage was ridiculous and was pretty much a free for all. at places the queue was about 40 people wide.every arena was full, there were massive queues outside each one still, and lots of people outside not queueing. no way it wasn’t oversold when you have that situation.we eventually got into amon tobin, saw a bit of his set then decided to get back to RA early to be sure to be in for shackleton.after shackleton, xhin came on and we decided at that juncture to go out of RA and get drinks, go to the toilet etc attempted to go to the floating bar. at this point we came across the cordon that was splitting the venue in two. large barrier with security on this side stopping people from coming to the side of the venue that had the arenas. lots of angry looking people, looked like it could’ve been a riot at any time. asked the security guard what was going on and could we go to the bars? he told me that there were too many people in the main stage so they’d put this barrier up and that I could go out to the other side but there was no re-entry to this side at all.we went to the stubnitz and tried to see if we could get in there, but they were shouting in a megaphone that it was closed and that no-one would be getting on for the rest of the night (I assume the main stage had already been closed at this point). they really did need a bigger boat! then we attempted to get back into RA and there was a large congregation of people attempting to get in. We stood there for a while and eventually security just let everyone pile in. Assumedly because they knew it was going to close the way it was very shortly.Got in and Xhin was still playing which was odd as sandwell district were at that time meant to be playing. There were lots of people having a piss right at the side of the dance floor in the arena because they knew if they went out to the toilets they wouldn’t be getting in again. pretty disgusting.We got to the front and a short while later Xhin came off (i think around quarter to 1) with no-oneelse on stage the crowd got a bit rowdy.This lasted a while with music playing from cd and no-one on stage and no-one knowing what was going on. Some bottles were thrown on stage.Then the police marched in, came to the front and started pushing people back. Clearly they’d cynically kept xhin on as long as possible and then not told the crowd anything whilst they awaited the police arrival.We all left RA, saw the start of the shipping container ‘drum choir’ but just made our way out, though we had to *beg* the stewards to let us go back to the cloak room (which was in the cordoned off area) to get our bags with all our things in.Outside the streets were carnage with thousands of dejected people all stood around unsure of how to get home, the police barking orders to move from the pavements.Also, don’t know about the storming of the front gates, but know some people who didn’t get in at all, they were turned away at the gates and told that only express ticket holders were being let in.”
“After getting there at about 6 and queuing for about an hour and a half to get onto the site and another 45 minutes queuing to get onto the boat it was surprising to see how few people were on the lower decks. Filled out a little bit later but not uncomfortably so. £2 for a tap water and the one set of bar staff who were refusing to pour drinks for anyone other than themselves was as bad as it got. Shin, Loefah and Boddika were really quite good.
Not a massive surprise when we heard that it had been shut down when they cut the music – it was blatantly obvious that they had nowhere near enough security and those they did have completely lacking any kind of preparation. Actually feel sorry for the stewards if it had been oversubscribed….. ”
We could go on with these, there are hundreds of unhappy festival-goers, and the organisers will have some tough questions to answer. The Facebook comments, which have since, predictably, been deleted by Bloc, were a vision of disorder, and can be read here.
Were you there? How was it for you?