Despite a dazzling concert lineup, organizers at the Berlin Festival shut down early on Saturday. A heavy concentration of concert-goers on the first night had sparked fears of a Love Parade repeat.
Organizers say entrance gates and not overcrowding are to blame
Organizers of a Berlin music festival announced Saturday they would end the festival earlier than planned in light of security challenges recalling the Love Parade festival in Duisburg, where faulty planning and poor crowd control resulted in 21 deaths earlier this summer.
The Berlin Festival started smoothly Friday morning, according to organizers, but "the situation changed at around 2:30 a.m." that night, they wrote on the event's website.
Organizers added that it was not the size of the crowd but the entrance gates at the grounds of Berlin's former Tempelhof Airport that caused fear.
"The festival had to be discontinued early," they wrote, adding, "Before two main DJ acts - Fatboy Slim and 2manydjs - could conquer the stage, we had to get the audience off the festival grounds, a decision that was made in accordance with the police."
Instead of continuing till 5 a.m. Sunday morning, the festival was set to conclude Saturday night at 11 p.m.
'The ghost of Love Parade'
Canadian electronica musician Peaches was among the headliners
"It's almost like there's the ghost of Love Parade hanging over everybody," said Deutsche Welle reporter Catherine Bolsover, in attendance at the festival.
"I don't think there was any actual danger," she added. "It's more that people are worried there was the potential for danger, and then [started] shutting it down straightaway. It's like a kneejerk reaction."
DW reporter Sophie Tarr, also in attendance, commented that things seemed disorganized from the beginning, adding that there had been "rumblings from concert-goers likening the festival to the Love Parade."
On Friday night, she noted, "there was nothing going on except in one particular area. I think that was the error. Had they stayed open, it's possible that we could have had a similar situation to Love Parade."
Tarr said that spectators were understanding of the decision.
Organizers of the festival, which included headliners such as Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, Adam Green, Robyn and Peaches, say they will do everything in their power to put the full lineup on the stage, and may organize a new event to that end.
Author: David Levitz
Editor: Ben Knight