Rally, Girl Talk Concert Cut Short

Event halted after crowds squeeze up against stage, posing safety concerns

Last night’s pep rally at Harvard Yard was cut short after multiple failed attempts at crowd control, grinding the highly anticipated concert by DJ Girl Talk to a halt. The performance, meant to up the excitement for The Game tomorrow, ended prematurely, with organizers asking the hundreds of attendees to step back.

“The ultimate decision to end the concert was that of the Harvard University Police Department,” said College Events Board President John F. Pararas ’08-’09, who is also a former Crimson magazine writer.

Officers at the scene referred requests for comment to HUPD spokesman Steven G. Catalano.

After a performance by steppers from the Black Men’s Forum, technicians had to adjust the setup of the stage. As the packed crowd waited for Girl Talk, the stage name of Gregg Gillis, to perform, Fun Czar Jason B. McCoy ’08 called for concertgoers to move back.

Students squeezed up against the stage posed a safety concern because there were no concert barriers in place during the performance.

As per Gillis’ contract, no concert barriers were in place during his performance, Pararas said.

As throngs filled the Yard in front of the John Harvard statue, students bobbed to the music in parkas and sipped apple cider and hot chocolate. Those who braved the chill waved glow sticks and foam fingers as CEB members threw balloons into the crowd.

Several police officers stood on stage, as Gillis, clad in a crimson CEB sweatshirt, sampled from songs that varied from Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” to UGK’s “International Player’s Anthem (I Choose You).”

But after crowdgoers caused part of the stage to move, Girl Talk moved his equipment to deejay on the ground.

But even with Gillis among the crowd, Alina A. Hooper ’10, who is also a Crimson photographer, said she was pushed toward the stage and started hyperventilating in the crush of people.

“I was just freaking out and trying to get out of the center of the crowd,” she said. She was pulled out by the HUPD and was uninjured. “I guess they thought I was worse off.”

Rumors stirred that someone had been pushed under the stage, but McCoy said in an interview after the show that some students had crawled under the stage to get out of the crowd and were not hurt.

In an effort to control the crowd, organizers took the stage repeatedly, asking students to step back—only to have glow sticks thrown at them.

Pararas at one point included expletives in his call for students to move away from the stage.

Gillis ended up curtailing his performance because of the failed attempts to control the crowd. After the announcement that the concert was ending, the DJ apologized and said that if it were up to him, he would continue playing and asked if there was “a house somewhere [he] could go, right now.”

Amid cries to move to a final club or the Hasty Pudding, students lingered outside of University Hall to find out where Gillis was going. According to McCoy, he returned to his hotel.

“It was the most unsuccessful successful show ever,” Leah E. Boch ’09 said.

HUPD’s Catalano could not be reached for comment last night.

—Staff writer Chelsea L. Shover can be reached at chelsea.shover11@college.harvard.edu