Many of Farrell’s “Something in the Water” festival attendees complained that the event was overcrowded and frantic, and they had concerns for their safety.
Like Pharrell Williams.something in the waterThe festival sparked in Washington, D.C. this weekend, with a large number of concertgoers complaining that they had concerns about their safety at the event.
Katerra Shackelford bought her three-day tickets for $400 and flew from Tampa, Florida for the festival. But after unpleasant experiences on Friday and Saturday, she told WTOP that she would not return on the last day of the festival.
“Both days have been terrible,” Shackleford said. “No place to sit. No shade. No water. Even if you try to get to the bathroom, you can’t get to it. It was a bad show.”
Described as a music festival fanatic, Shackelford said she’s participated in a variety of festivals, but none have been as bad as her experience at “Something in the Water”.
“The difference between this festival and other festivals is that it is not safe,” she said. “The place is so crowded, you can’t get past the crowd. People are pushing through the crowd because they are angry that they can’t get past it. It’s just very narrow lanes.”
Many people believed that the festival venue and staff were unable to handle the approximately 28,000 ticket holders and that dangerous overcrowding was inevitable.
Shackleford said that, while in the crowd between performances, she saw a man trying to break through a barrier that had been hit by event staff while he was still in the crowd.
She also described seeing several people lose consciousness during the event – due to heat, dehydration, exhaustion and poisoning – but without an urgent medical response.
“You would expect event staff to be safe. You would expect that if someone called for help, the nurses would come,” Shackleford said. “As someone who goes to festivals… you expect that there will be safety protocols in place. It was clear and obvious that there was nothing. The staff was untrained.”
Several users on Twitter complained about overcrowding and safety concerns – they were prevented from returning after leaving 1festival for a while to relieve overcrowding and heat. Many are asking for a refund.
– NubianExcellenc June 19, 2022
So it looks like people are close to suffocating sitw Because it is very crowded. Did they sell tickets or not? Many of us out there are angry. We need refunds. #something in the water Tweet embed pic.twitter.com/zQZRaN71ez
– NubianExcellenc June 19, 2022
Ngiri Nnachi of Boye, Maryland, said she was exhausted by the chaotic, fenced-in crowd and was told by event staff that she would be able to re-enter the venue when she returned to watch Farrell perform. When she returned, the police and security told her that no one was allowed in.
“Eventually someone else asked us to go to the other entrance on Seventh Street, and when we arrived, another crowd gathered who was not allowed in,” Nnashi said. “I caught a police officer on video telling us that no one would be allowed in until we could call the box office where we bought the tickets…I started talking to people coming out who said they were panicked inside, crammed into a suffocating crowd.”
Nnachi, who was unable to return to the concert, said the frustrating experience made her decide not to attend Sunday’s events.
“I ended up watching excerpts from the Pharrell and Phriends from live while I was incredibly upset because I was out live,” she said. “I can’t believe I paid that much money to end up not seeing the people I wanted to see.”
Personal items and personal safety
Other party-goers claimed on Twitter that their phones had been stolen.
How 30 people hijacked their phones in #SITWFest 😂. Like no one was paying attention?
– J. Thomas Cultural Treasure (@Thomas_JENESIS) June 19, 2022
Remy, from Marylander, told WTOP she felt the festival was too crowded to be safe.
“there [were] So many people that you can’t even move to get to the water stations or even stand in line to get food. “It was very crowded,” she said.
With temperatures soaring into the 90s on Friday, Remy said she struggled with overheating and was sweating profusely while at the festival. But when she tried to escape the crowded crowds to get the free water, she couldn’t because of the juvenile hurdles.
On top of safety concerns, festival-goers also complained about sound distortion and significant delays in the event schedule. Shackleford says she was unable to see one of her favorite artists and festival headliner on day one, Usher, because his performance was three hours late.
While she was enjoying the musicians, Shackleford said she would not even attend the “Something in the Water” festival – or future festivals in the capital – again.
“I can’t risk my life. It’s not safe.”
WTOP has reached out to event organizers for comment.
WTOP’s Gigi Barnett and Joshua Barlow contributed to this story.
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