Campus Soulja Boy Concert Descends into Chaos over Lack of Crowd Control

By Laurel Spear


BERKELEY, CA— On January 27, 2023, UC Berkeley arts and entertainment organization ASUC* Superb Productions held a free concert for UC Berkeley students featuring Soulja Boy, an American rapper and record producer. Due to overcrowding outside the event and inadequate security or crowd control, paramedics were called after an attendee lost consciousness at the concert. 


Although the event started at 5pm with doors opening at 4, students such as UC Berkeley junior Ademar Barrera began lining up as early as 2pm to secure a spot in Pauley Ballroom, the concert’s venue. The ballroom has a maximum capacity of 999 people, but before the event even began, the line outside consisted of well over a thousand people, starting in Lower Sproul plaza and wrapping around the entire underground parking lot one block away. 


Although there were over a thousand students in line for the event, Superb was unprepared to control a crowd that large. “They weren’t managing the line at all,” Barrera explained in an interview with Berkeley Vanguard “There was no enforcement and the security was just students with jackets on.”


According to Barerra, at around 4pm, the doors opened, causing a huge stampede of attendees rushing inside. “There were no regulations, whoever got in got in. As time went on people kept cutting and there was no one to stop them.” Barrera described how even though he was very near the front of the line, almost 200 people got into the venue before he did due to a lack of security. Barerra went on to say that “even with just a line of orange cones telling people where to stand, a lot of the issues could have been managed so much better.”


UC Berkeley junior Sydney Gimpl, who was also present in the crowd, explained how “people were literally like pushing back and forth, and there was not a single inch of space.” The overcrowding and lack of space caused Gimpl, along with other students, to feel panicked, but even as she tried to leave, “there was nowhere for me to go, no one was moving.” 


As people began entering the venue, there became an obvious disparity between those at the front of the line on the stairs and those crowding below. As Gimpl illustrated, “the people on the stairs were yelling down at us things like ‘get the f*ck back’ and cussing and screaming at us.” Barerra corroborated this, explaining that “Superb people at the top of the stairs would let their friends in and not others, it was very unprofessional.”


While people crowded around attempting to enter the venue, a young woman lost consciousness and paramedics were called to assist her. Despite the fact that the woman was escorted out by Superb staff and medical technicians, Superb staff reported that no one was transported to a hospital. 


Once inside the ballroom, Barerra described how students were attempting to get in through other points of entry, and one male student was even escorted out after he snuck in through a separate entrance. “They literally grabbed him and forced him out,” Barerra explained. 


Although the event’s capacity was 900 people, according to Superb managers only 653 people were admitted to the concert based on the amount of student IDs scanned. Although staff tried to allow more students in, each time they began allowing people to enter, the crowd would surge even further forward. 


As the concert began, Barerra pointed out that the “room felt empty and desolate…honestly it was a disrespect to [Soulja Boy] because it was a waste of his time.” Even after staff stopped admitting students into the venue, some students, desperate to see the performance, crowded around the windows to see Soulja Boy.  


Later that same day, Superb put out a statement on Instagram apologizing for the lack of safety measures or crowd control. Superb managers said that events hosted by the organization are a collaborative effort between Superb, UC Berkeley Event Services, and UCPD, but they took full responsibility for how “unprofessional and dangerous” the situation became. 


On February 1, 2023, Superb put out a second statement on Instagram explaining that they chose that venue due to the “weather conditions of rain at the time.” The statement went on to say that they met with ASUC Advising, Event Services, Faculty Operations, and UCPD to ensure that what transpired at the Soulja Boy concert does not happen again. 


In the aftermath of this event, Superb intends to implement new safety measures for future events, including ticketing and reservation systems, staff trained in crowd management, and a larger budget allocation to increased on-site staff.

Laurel is currently a junior at UC Berkeley studying Political Science with an emphasis on International Relations. She is from Los Angeles and outside of school, she enjoys cooking, snowboarding, painting, and going to concerts.

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