Footage posted to social media shows crowds surging through ticket gates at We Are FSTVL on Saturday after people reportedly “fainted” in hours of queues.
Organisers apologised for the delays caused by “unforeseen technical difficulties”. Extra staff, more queuing lanes and “dedicated water distributors” will be brought in to on Sunday.
Rebecca Ponsford told TheFestivals: “My friend fainted in the queue so we had to carry her through an angry mob to get her some space. It was awful!”
Chase & Status headlined the We Are Bass stage at the festival last night. Bugzy Malone and SASASAS also featured on the line-up.
In a video posted by Rave Footage a crowd surge appears to overwhelm the majority of the length of the entrance gate.
Laura Dixon, a teaching assistant from Essex, told TheFestivals she waited with her friends for three hours “with no water, food or sun shelter.” Laura said a water bottle thrown into the crowd “hit a girl in the face who then passed out”.
Anna Sophia Aldridge, Laura’s friend, told TheFestivals there was a lack of air and too much heat in the dense crowds. Anna said she and her friends had to resort to “deep breathing and meditation” because of the anxiety caused by the crowd. She said they were as “squashed” as in the images below for hours.
Anna said they were unable to buy any food or drink once inside the festival so resorted to drinking “half-empty water bottles” found on the floor.
We Are FSTVL is now ‘cashless’, so food and drink can only be purchased inside the festival by topping up a contactless chip inside the wristband. Organisers appealed for anyone inside without a wristband to return to the gate with their tickets to be wristbanded. Organisers also advised free water points are available around the site.
Rebecca Ponsford told us: “having to queue to top up the wristband to buy drinks was a joke!”
Anna and Laura told us they were left shaken and “not in the mood to be there”. Unable to buy food or drink, they left the festival soon after getting in and said they felt unsafe knowing people had accessed the event without being searched. Anna said the police arrived as they were leaving.
Laura said: “We experienced five of the worst hours of lives today.”
Eoin Fraser told TheFestivals he queued from 3pm to 5:30pm to get into the festival and “people were fainting in the hot sun”. He described the situation as “carnage” and said very few people had brought water or come prepared for hours of queuing in direct sunlight.
Other footage shows staff losing their feet and fencing being knocked down.
Anna said some of her friends had minor injuries and some Twitter users also complained of being injured as fans rushed through the gate. She recorded this video of people shouting “medic, we need help” from within the crowd.
One attendee who asked to remain anonymous sent a complaint to We Are FSTVL asking for a full refund of the ticket price. She says she was separated from her partner after being “trampled on in a melee” and they did not make it inside the event.
She told us her friends had paid for a hotel to attend the festival and added: “it was such a let down having paid out all this money for nothing”. She said “the line-up was first class” but “it ended up being the worst experience I have ever encountered at a festival.”
1 hour in pic.twitter.com/JPRgVj2seZ— Dan (@Dan3vans) May 25, 2019
Another video shows bottles of water being thrown into the queue by staff.
An anonymous witness told the BBC: “They’d run out of wristbands at the door so they didn’t have drink token wristbands when they were letting people through.”
She said: “A barrier got thrown into the crowds, the woman next to me got hit by it and it sliced a massive chunk out of her leg. She’s passed out on the floor, security ran over to her and people were just charging through.
“They took out the barriers, pushed through security, punching security, just taking everyone out in their way.”
The Metropolitan Police said: “Officers are at the location and working alongside organisers and London Ambulance Service. We are not aware of any serious injury.”
We Are FSTVL posted a statement to Facebook late last night. In a further statement given to TheFestivals on Sunday, they said: “Due to unforeseen technical difficulties at the wristband exchange, customers had experienced longer waiting times and for that we apologise. Security were able to overcome these issues and barriers were quickly reinstated.
“Five customers sustained minor injuries and all were treated on site before rejoining the festival.
“The situation was quickly resolved and measures including providing additional queueing lanes and dedicated water distributors have been taken to change the process on site today for the benefit of all festival goers.
“Our sincere apologies for anyone that was affected by the issue at the gate. Our event planning is done in accordance to the highest standards, working with The Met Police, London Ambulance Service and London Borough of Havering and the London Fire Brigade. We take the security of our audience very seriously, and constantly review our processes to ensure a safe festival environment.”
This article was first published at 7:32pm Saturday 26th May 2019 and was updated at 11:22am on Sunday 27th May 2019.
– Free BEER and body marbling coming to We Are FSTVL
– Interview: Andy C (August 2018)
– Interview: SASASAS (August 2018)
Crowd queuing – Rebecca Ponsford
Security staff – Anna Sophia Aldridge
Crowd density – Anna Sophia Aldridge