Crowded, dangerous conditions disrupted Lawnparties on Sunday, causing delays to headliner A$AP Ferg’s performance and injury to at least one student attendee.
Students gathered in the backyard of Quadrangle Club well in advance of A$AP Ferg’s performance, where student opener Naaji Hylton ’22, known professionally as J. Paris, began his act at 3 p.m. By the time Paris finished, a large crowd had gathered throughout the venue — and within minutes, security guards and other staff members began to plead with students to back away from the stage, where student attendees were being pushed against the barrier.
“You’re going to hurt someone,” a member of the security team said. “This is going to be a dangerous situation.”
By 3:40 p.m., the same individual reported a student injury in the crowd.
“We have a young woman at the front who is bleeding now,” he said. “You’re hurting people. Stop.”
Security team members repeatedly called for students to back up, seemingly unheeded. As students continued to press forward, speakers onstage insisted that A$AP Ferg would not begin performing until the crowd calmed down.
“The show doesn’t start until the security guards tell us that the barrier is in a better position and not going to break,” an official said.
Many seemed to cooperate with the security team’s requests, moving backward when instructed and chanting, “BACK UP!” When one “instigator” was removed from the venue by security, cheers erupted from the student body.
After repeated attempts by security to control the crowd were unsuccessful, Social Committee member and Class of 2024 Social Chair Lauren Fahlberg ’24 went on stage with similar pleas.
“For the love of God, stop talking!” Fahlberg shouted, visibly frustrated.
A representative of the Department of Public Safety (PSAFE) joined Fahlberg, announcing that A$AP Ferg would not perform at all unless the crowd in front of the stage dispersed within five minutes.
“We have spent so long planning this,” Fahlberg said repeatedly, referring to the Social Committee. “A$AP Ferg is doing a huge favor by coming to visit us.”
Lawnparties, which occurred in-person for the first time since fall 2019, faced controversy even before the day began. On Tuesday, Sept. 28, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Social Committee announced that the original performer, LANY, would no longer perform due to reports of predatory behavior.
A$AP Ferg, announced on Friday by the USG Social Committee as LANY’s replacement, garnered a positive reaction from students, with one calling A$AP Ferg a “better choice” and another deeming him “the type of artist I was looking for.”
The Social Committee has not publicly stated how A$AP Ferg was compensated, or whether the contract with LANY was terminated. Still, at one point in the performance, he gave some insight into his last-minute availability.
“I am so glad that I was able to come here and do this shit last-minute,” A$AP Ferg said. “Only because I live a fucking hour away.”
When the start of Ferg’s act prompted students to gather again near the front of the stage, some in the crowd became frustrated at their peers’ disregard for staff instructions.
“Why is your first instinct to all crowd again?” Josiah Gouker ’22 yelled at students moving toward the stage. “That is the opposite of what we need to be doing. Just stay where you are; you can hear it wherever you are.”
Gouker is an Opinion columnist and Satire contributor for the ‘Prince.’
A$AP Ferg also dealt with uncooperative students and overcrowding, having to stop his performance mid-song and address the audience. He claimed that the show could be canceled entirely, under certain circumstances.
“They’re saying that it’s over because they don’t want anybody to get hurt,” he told the crowd. “Damn, I want to perform.”
After confirmation from the show organizers that the show could continue if the crowd moved away from the stage, A$AP Ferg urged the crowd to comply.
“Can y’all move all the way back? Turn around and walk to the back,” he said. A$AP Ferg began to freestyle using the words ‘walk to the back,’ leading to — for the first time — a substantive movement of the crowd. The concert resumed, with A$AP Ferg noting feeling “proud” of the crowd for finally listening.
At one point in the resumed concert, a student was lifted by peers and crowd-surfed.
A$AP Ferg’s show was interrupted for a second time, again due to crowding concerns, at around 4:20 p.m., after which point the show continued without serious interruption.
The Social Committee held a giveaway on their Instagram page for one student to meet A$AP Ferg after the show. Rishi Gorrepati ’25, who won the giveaway, told The Daily Princetonian in a message that he did not get to meet A$AP Ferg.
“Apparently, he left early,” Gorrepati wrote.
Aside from the headliner act at Quad, Lawnparties performances took place in six of the 11 eating clubs on Prospect Avenue. Performers at Tower Club, Tiger Inn, Colonial Club, Ivy Club, and Terrace Club included The Wldlfe, LZRD, smallpools, DJ Kazuo Nakamura, and Ruby the Hatchet.
USG Social Chair William Gu ’23 reflected on the day in a message to the ‘Prince’.
“Hopefully, today’s Lawnparties provided underclassmen an introduction to one of Princeton’s greatest traditions, as well as upperclassmen a reminder that Princeton is back and better than ever!” he wrote.
Gu did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the crowd control problems during A$AP Ferg's performance.
Jack Amen ’25, who watched the Lawnparties headliner act from a raised section of the Quad backyard, told the ‘Prince’ that he escaped the dangerous conditions and was generally amused by the crowd’s behavior.
“It was such a perfect storm of absurdism,” he wrote. “My friends and I were checking Twitter a lot because a bunch of [Princeton] people were live-tweeting their reactions in real-time.”
Amen added that “word spread through the crowd” about the dangerous situation near the stage, and said he was “disappointed” in the students who caused it.
“It definitely shouldn't have gotten to that point,” he wrote. “It really serves to reinforce ... how partying here recently is more about desperation than it is about having fun.”
Evelyn Doskoch is a Head News Editor who has reported on University affairs, COVID-19 policy, student life, sexual harassment allegations, town affairs, and eating clubs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @EvelynDoskoch.
Andrew Somerville is a staff writer who corresponds with and covers USG happenings and other campus news. He can be reached at email@example.com.