A free outdoor Drake concert in New York to celebrate the release of the Toronto MC’s debut album Thank Me Later was shut down by the New York Police Department last night before the actor/rapper could take the stage as violence erupted throughout the overcapacity crowd. “It was a riot,” one concertgoer described the scene at South Street Seaport to the Daily News . There were also reports of fistfights in the crowd, which was packed into the multi-level Seaport surrounded by retail shops and restaurants. At one point during the melee, concertgoers standing on the second floor of a restaurant began throwing flowerpots and metal chairs onto the unsuspecting audience below. Soon after, police asked the crowd to disperse, before Drake even made it to the scene.
Seven people were injured in the chaos, including two who sustained head injuries. Police arrested two people on bottle-throwing and obstruction charges. According to the New York Times , the situation began to get out of hand at around 6:30 p.m., when fans realized Drake would not be taking the stage until 8 p.m. (Flyers for the free show advertised that it would run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) Opening act Ninjasonik was just minutes into their set when law enforcement decided to cancel the show. Hanson were slated to take the stage next, but the scene had already spun out of control. “Had to cancel the free NYC show today because of a crazy audience that was [breaking] things at the mixing board,” Zac Hanson wrote on the band’s Twitter.
The major problem was simply the crowd’s massive size. While the Seaport estimated 10,000 people would attend the free show, nearly double that figure arrived, forcing some fans to sit atop the roofs of kiosks. “By the announced showtime, both the Seaport management and NYPD estimated that the onsite crowd had greatly exceeded safe capacity and the show could no longer be presented in a safe atmosphere,” a Seaport spokeswoman said, and NYPD deputy Paul Greene added, “[Seaport officials] admit they did not contemplate this turnout.” More fights broke out among the crowd as a swarm of police officers and NYPD helicopters hovering overhead attempted to disperse the crowd. At some point, police used mace to dissipate the crowd, the Village Voice reports.
Despite the nixed show, Drake still wanted to appear at the Seaport to thank his fans for their massive outpouring, tweeting, “Police are shutting down the show at South Seaport! I’m on my way anyways…Drizzy Hendrix Woodstock 2010” moments after the cancellation. However, fearing more chaos, police ultimately did not allow Drake to take the stage. “I am humbled by the crowd that showed up in support of my performance. Unfortunately, the show was canceled by the NYPD due to overcrowding, leaving me without the chance to give my fans a real show,” Drake later said through his spokesperson.