Capping off a disastrous weekend, would-be revelers who journeyed out to Randall’s Island for the Electric Zoo festival on Sunday were unceremoniously turned away at the gates, with organizers explaining that—somehow—they’d reached capacity “earlier than anticipated.”
With the sun going down, hundreds of those disgruntled ticket holders then stormed the barriers surrounding the New York City venue, according to footage captured by witnesses. Video showed the crowds overrunning security and surging past the fences.
“Gates down, chaos reigns,” read a tweet from The Festive Owl, a media company that tracks festivals and lineups.
The madness was set off by an announcement by organizers at 6:35 p.m. local time that—with “deep regret”—they were closing the site to newcomers. “If you are on your way or were planning to come later, we kindly ask that you refrain from coming to the festival site,” they tweeted.
Organizers later announced that everyone denied entry would be issued a full refund.
Little explanation was given as to how the event could have reached maximum capacity so early, but the 6:35 p.m. tweet attributed the fiasco to “the challenges caused by Friday cancelation,” an apparent reference to the fact that Electric Zoo’s first day had been called off less than four hours before it had been set to kick off.
Organizers said at the time that they were struggling with “supply chain disruptions” that had prevented them from completing the construction of the main stage in time for the start of the electronic dance music festival. Among the acts that had been set to perform had been Kx5, Kaskade, and the Chainsmokers.
“On a brighter note, Saturday and Sunday are set to be truly magical,” the festival’s statement said.
The next day, the festival finally started—two hours later than originally planned. No explanation was offered, and the delay resulted in some acts being pushed off the lineup.
Nikademis, an artist who would have spun his first-ever DJ set at the festival that afternoon, expressed his frustration to CBS New York. “It’s a shame, like, I found out through social media like everyone else,” he said. “There was no communication to me otherwise, and honestly, there still hasn’t been much communication about what’s going on.”
Concertgoers who did make it in on Saturday took to social media to complain about unfinished stages and broken display screens. “It was an absolute disaster and an embarrassment,” one woman told The Messenger.
The chaos as the gates were bowled over on Sunday prompted some to draw comparisons to Astroworld, the 2021 music festival blighted by a crowd crush that killed 10 people and injured at least 300 more. “I’m never coming back,” one person who participated in the EZoo rush told Rolling Stone. “Worst experience of my life.”
The New York Police Department said that no arrests were made on Sunday night, according to ABC7 New York. Festival organizers said in a tweet that buses and ferries would remain running to “safely transport” people off the island.