After the Bryan Adams fiasco and concert cancellation in February, here I am, spending another disappointed night at home. Metallica’s first concert in India, one I was looking forward to for months was cancelled. I don’t agree with what most of the news channels are saying; here’re the events as I saw them myself from the venue
- Gates were to be opened at 3:00 PM. The security personnel/organizers didn’t anticipate people queuing up since morning. By the time it was 3:00 PM, there was a huge dis-organized crowd, almost 30,000 strong, impatient to get it. The security personnel should have started organizing people in queues from the very beginning (Hats off to concerts I have seen in Mumbai; excellent organization and obedient people)
- Before the gates were to be opened, the security staff shouted at the crowd that unless they get into proper queues, they won’t open the gates. A 30,000 strong crowd (especially a metal concert crowd) can’t organize themselves in a queue just like that.
- After failing to form a proper queue, the security personnel just opened the gates. The crowd mass directly in the front of the gate surged forward, the ones on the left or the right, sensing that they aren’t making much progress, started pushing the whole crowd. This was sheer torture. For almost 40 minutes, we had to almost suffocate in the unruly crowd and risk being stampeded if we fell down. The ground was uneven. Many girls almost suffocated and had to plead with the crowd to let them leave.
- During entry, the security staff failed to keep up with the massive crowd surge. Not all tickets were checked and frisking was a joke.
- Once in, the people right at the front rushed towards the stage, banged against the barriers separating the stage from the crowd and broke them. Slowly people settled down and the crew members noticed that the front barriers were broken
- Crew members politely asked the crowd to move back a little so that the barriers could be repaired. The crowd did nothing
- Another crew member asked the crowd to do the same. They just kept standing like they couldn’t understand what was said to them.
- Another crew member called the crowd ‘buttheads’. At this point, the crowd started abusing back (but still didn’t move)
- Another crew-member politely told the crowd that the concert cannot start unless the barricades were repaired and that cannot happen with the crowd still pushing against it. Still, nothing.
- This went on for some more time. They also flashed the text on the screens which said the same thing. The crowd just laughed, abused and threw bottles towards the stage
- The crowd waited till around 18:30 when they were told that the show was postponed till tomorrow because of technical difficulties. At this point, the people standing towards the front went berserk and passing the already broken barriers, climbed up on the stage. They broke microphones, monitors and speakers.
- A few people gathered a banner and set it on fire.
- While I decided to leave, my last view was of a group of people trying to pull a huge speaker (towards the middle of the ground) down. There was not a single policeman to witness the whole event
I think the following factors contributed to this disaster
- The organizers/security personnel had little or no experience of dealing with a Heavy Metal concert crowd. The failed to ensure order from the very beginning. They didn’t anticipate such an early turnout and didn’t make arrangements for queues.
- Press says that the organizers were facing technical issues with sound, I cannot comment on this because I don’t know this for sure, but they did goof up big time. They failed to control an already unruly crowd and kept them waiting for too long before breaking bad news
- I feel the crowd was the biggest factor. Most of the people were unruly, already drunk/high and very different from rock/metal crowd you see in cities like Mumbai and Bangalore.
I see reports coming in now that the gig won’t be held tomorrow either, but will instead be scrapped. I understand that a band needs some rest between subsequent gigs (Metallica has another gig in Bangalore on Sunday), but the unruly behaviour/vandalism by the crowd ealed their fate. Metallica will not risk performing before such a crowd. Here’s a video
The people of Delhi/NCR don’t deserve to be rocked by Metallica (or any big band for that matter).