For a couple minutes, Elsie Shaw couldn’t move.
The 17-year-old from Gig Harbor lay on top of the barricade that collapsed Saturday night during a Bumbershoot performance by electronic musician Jai Wolf. On top of the 4-foot-11-inch teen were others who fell in a chaotic surge toward the front of Fisher Green Stage.
“It wasn’t pleasant,” said Shaw, left with a skinned knee and bruises on her arm marking where she was pushed against the steel barricade.
Twenty-five people were evaluated for injuries, and four were taken to Harborview Medical Center, but nobody was seriously hurt, officials said. Harborview did not admit any of the concertgoers it saw, according to spokeswoman Susan Gregg.
A joint statement by Seattle Center and event promoter AEG said a new barricade had been installed and inspected for the festival’s final day Sunday.
“Safety is our top priority at Bumbershoot, and we have been working closely with police, medics, and security to ensure tonight is a great evening for fans,” the organizers’ statement on Sunday said. It noted that Jai Wolf agreed to perform Sunday night at Memorial Stadium, and tickets for Saturday would be honored.
“Tomorrow’s going to be a lot of fun,” Wolf said in a Twitter post after the aborted concert. “Let’s just be mindful of our surroundings and look out for one another.”
Still unclear as of Sunday afternoon was why the collapse occurred. The Seattle Center and AEG statement did not address the matter, nor say whether steps beyond a new barricade were being taken to keep something similar from happening again. Spokespeople declined to say more.
Shaw was right near the front of the stage.
It was her first time at Bumbershoot, and she had a three-day pass, staying along with her mom and other family members at a nearby hotel. She and an older brother attended the event together, but he went to listen to another performer while she wandered over to Fisher Green in time to hear an artist who came on before Wolf.
Just before Wolf came on, the teen heard some folks in back partying and getting rowdy. Shaw suspects they tried to push their way to the front, causing people to topple over. But she couldn’t really see.
It all happened fast. Wolf played for less than a minute, she said. Then Shaw and everybody else went down. She heard guards yelling: “Get up. Get up.”
Another festival-goer, Charlie Cobb, said he was also near the front.
“I looked behind me and and saw a huge wave of kids coming towards us and next thing I knew we were in a huge dog pile of people,” the 20-year-old wrote in a direct message on Twitter. “Kids were screaming but nobody could get off the ground until the people behind them could get off so it took three-ish minutes for it all to clear out.”
“It was scary that we couldn’t stand up no matter how hard we tried. One of my friends messed up his leg pretty bad and we carried him out to our Uber and we went home.”
Shaw made her way to a staircase and sat down. Seeing she didn’t have any serious injuries, she found her brother and went back to the hotel.
By Sunday, she had shaken off the shock enough to plan on going back to Bumbershoot for Sunday’s shows. “I’m just not going to be at the front anymore,” she said.