What It's Like Being Pepper-Sprayed at SXSW
That's what they immediately did. Already restless, the outside crowd started pushing the walls behind and in the front of the venue as hard as they could. Many bum-rushed the entrance gate and trampled their way inside. The chain-link metal portion of the fence started to give way, so the crowd started in on the wood planks as well.
Different people were fighting with security, some getting dragged out of the venue, while Tyler egged on the many still working on getting in to "push!" I figured it was only a matter of time before I heard sirens, so I started to make my way away from the more violent part of the scene.
They cut Tyler's mike, which just outraged the audience even more. In a state of mild confusion, everyone stopped and started yelling for him to come back. In a matter of minutes, Scoot Inn let him speak again. He apologized and told everyone to chill.
Amazingly enough, this actually worked out. Order started to return to some extent, aside from the stray jokers who were determined to keep beating the fences. Security started reattaching the boards, though I don't know how they managed to summon a power drill so fast.
In an instant, it was over just as quickly as it had started. Tyler begged the audience to sit still, be quiet and let him perform. Eventually he was even forced to ask them to take a few steps back from the stage because it was starting to pose a risk of collapse. Crisis averted on that count too.
However, security wasn't quite done. Even though Tyler was finishing his abridged set and we were still left standing outside, watching and listening from behind the walls, they wanted us gone. That's when the pepper spray started to rain down.
I'm not sure who had it or where it was coming from, but suddenly the hordes of us were coughing and rubbing our eyes. True to our devotion, the same passion that inspired the mini-riot to begin with, we stuck it out until Tyler was off the stage.
It was a hell of a concert experience, all things considered. From possible stage collapses to crashing fences and getting pepper-sprayed, it was one step away from a real disaster. Thankfully, no one was injured in the incident, but it did land Tyler in jail. For my part, it's one of the craziest SXSW experiences I've ever had, and one that will be hard to top in years to come.
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