Attendees of Friday night’s Alvvays concert say they’re outraged at the behaviour of the Breezeway security staff, who many say were dangerously aggressive with crowd surfers, as well as abrasive and rude to those in the audience.
“I’ve never seen conduct like this by any staff at any show I’ve ever been to in my life,” said concertgoer Liam Wight.
“I’m still extremely shocked and confused by last night. It was truly unfortunate that a great band like Alvvays was spoiled by such awful and disgraceful staff.”
Wight was one of many disgruntled people at the Breezeway on Friday night.
On Saturday morning, the event’s Facebook page was filled with posts by concertgoers who said that while the music was great, the staff was terrible.
“Bottom line was security didn’t do the job they were hired to do: maintain a safe show environment,” agreed concertgoer Jack Heneghan.
“In fact, they did the opposite, they put people in harms way.”
Heneghan was one of many people who tried to crowd surf, only to be pulled out of the air and onto the ground.
“I was up and moving along before two of the security guards grabbed me by the leg and hauled me towards them, nearly knocking myself and others around me to the ground,” said Heneghan.
“He screamed ‘get the fuck down’ before yanking me to the ground.”
Crowd surfing has been a common practice at previous Breezeway concerts, and concertgoers were not informed at the start of the show that it was not permitted.
When Riley Pike was crowd surfing, staff pulled him onto the ground and forcefully carried him out of the bar without saying a word.
“It was quite uncomfortable and embarrassing, before even speaking to me about it or asking me to leave, to which I would have complied,” said Pike.
“I’ve been going to shows and concerts regularly for the last five years and I’ve honestly never been so disgusted with staff conduct.”
Barricade of staff in front of stage
Liam Wight and his girlfriend were also kicked out for crowd surfing.
“My girlfriend wasn’t allowed back in to the Breezeway to get her coat she had coat checked (despite the fact the show was over at this point) until she finally convinced the door people to let her back in,” said Wight.
Security staff also made a human barricade at the front of the stage, and many say they were unnecessarily forceful with what was a relatively tame crowd.
“The crowd was barely moving, they were dancing and trying really hard to have a good time but I could see the staff in the front being aggressive towards the crowd,” said Taylor Jane Furey, who watched the show from the VIP booth.
“They linked arms and pushed people back with their bodies which is so uncalled for and disrespectful. Not to mention causing more harm and injuries then if they let people enjoy it.”
Pike said that when he lifted up his friend to give him a better view, staff began yelling and swearing at him
Furey also said that security was invasive while checking her bag, examining her belongings without asking and then throwing them back in her bag.
The Alvvays concert was hosted by the MUN students’ union, who posted a response on the event’s page early Saturday evening.
MUNSU said that the human barricade around the stage was an impromptu security measure to deal with a very energetic crowd, after part of the keyboard was shoved forward into one of the musicians.
“Many people in the crowd came to other staff with complaints about being hurt in the crowd, and being shoved forward on to the stage,” the statement said.
“The MUN Student’s Union would like to thank the Breezeway staff that jumped in as impromptu security. Your hard work and quick thinking was also praised by the band Alvvays after the show. With this in mind, in the future we’ll definitely have more stable stage protection / event gates if it looks like a band will generate that sort of energy in the crowd.”
The statement also said that because it’s a student bar, the Breezeway is held to a much higher level of scrutiny than the average bar and that banning crowd surfing was a necessary safety measure.
“After spectators complained of being kicked in the head, and that they felt unsafe and intimidated by the crowd-surfing and the intense energy at the front, we made a decision that we felt was the safest for all involved,” said MUNSU.
“We want people to have fun but we also want to make sure it’s accessible and enjoyable by everyone. It’s a tough line to balance! We will review the events of the evening with Breezeway management and staff to ensure that moving forward any security issues are dealt with in the most positive, respectful manner possible.”
MUNSU’s full statement can be read here.