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"Fenway Park, Boston MA" by Lara Mercer Photography. CC BY 2.0.
"Fenway Park, Boston MA" by Lara Mercer Photography. CC BY 2.0.

Fans upset over delayed Lana Del Rey show during dangerous heat wave and unsafe conditions

On June 20, the eve of Elizabeth Grant’s birthday, a concert by the Grammy-nominated singer better known as Lana Del Rey was scheduled at historic Fenway Park. 

“One Very Special Night,” said the promotional posters and MLB website … but it ended up being One Very Hectic Night.

The show took place on a 91 degree day in the middle of an unusually early heatwave for Boston. Approaching the historic stadium, I saw thousands of concertgoers waiting to get in. A long queue stretched from Landsowne St. to Brookline Ave toward Kenmore … and that was only the line for merch. 

Concert tickets listed a start time of 7:30 p.m. Inside the park, we waited outside past the appointed hour until it was hard to ignore the dark rain clouds rolling in above the park. “Severe Thunderstorm Warning until 11 p.m.” flashed across the screen on everyone‘s phone in the area. I nervously chatted with fans next to me about the weather, and whether it would affect Lana Del Rey’s performance. Just before 9 p.m., a staff member came up to the stage to announce a 20-minute delay to the concert. The instructions were that due to lightning, everyone that was outside and exposed to the elements (me) needed to get off the field and under cover.

“It was pretty clear nobody truly knew what was going to happen or when the real [Fenway Park] curfew was,” said Joshua, a dad from Maine taking Kat, his young adult daughter to see the show. “It was rough down there [in the tunnels] because unlike the concourse, there were no bathrooms nor vendors. 

While the inside tunnels connected to the concourse, fans were packed into every crevice of space, making it too difficult for fans to navigate their way to water and into the bathrooms.

While major news outlets reported on the concert delay due to lightning strikes, the field being cleared came as a surprise to everyone. The severe weather alert for Boston was activated days ahead of the concert, but the only acknowledgment of any weather concern was a post on the Fenway Park’s official concert venue Instagram (@fenwayconcerts) that warned of an extreme heat advisory. Chaos and confusion ensued as fans were evacuated inside the park. I overheard many fans worried that Lana Del Rey might not perform at all that night, debating if they should go home.

“At no point were Fenway Park security or staff members communicating to fans in the ballpark that they should go home,” said Katelyn Reilly, Director of Corporate Communications for the Boston Red Sox. “The only instructions delivered from our operations team was a message to seek shelter to remain safe from the electrical storm.”

If the heat was oppressive enough outside, then inside was worse. Hundreds of fans were packed inside the concourse and tunnels with no AC, only an overhead fan vent here and there along the tunnel provided somewhat of a relief.

Fans stuck in Fenway Park tunnels due to thunderstorms during Lana Del Rey concert. Photo by Niya Doyle. Copyright 2024 Niya Doyle.
Fans stuck in Fenway Park tunnels due to thunderstorms during Lana Del Rey concert. Photo by Niya Doyle. Copyright 2024 Niya Doyle.

 “I saw other concert goers dropping like flies and being taken out by EMS or Fenway Security for a variety of reasons,” said Jess, a Boston local who attended the show. “ It was chaos.”

After the announcement was made that Lana Del Rey would indeed be performing tonight, fans were again herded back to their seats. The concert started at 10:40 p.m. and ended at 11:40 p.m cutting the 2-hour show in half. While many fans were angry and frustrated by the delay, some were still just happy to be there. 

“Of course it was worth the delay,” said Jonathan De Azevedo, a fan from Los Angeles, California. “It was a unique moment even if she cut some songs. We had a tailored version of the concert.”

In the meantime, many fans are still demanding answers and refunds from Fenway Park and Live Nation, the promoter and organizer behind the concert for inadequate evacuation protocol and preparations. Especially since those I spoke to spent up to $1400 for tickets. Live Nation did not respond to a request for comment about refunds.

“I don’t know how the final decision was made, from a Fenway or LDR perspective, but I’d sure like to know because rationales are owed,” said Joshua.

This article was produced for HorizonMass, the independent, student-driven, news outlet of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and is syndicated by BINJ’s MassWire news service.

Niya Doyle is a HorizonMass reporter and a recent graduate of Boston University. She loves music, cats, and baking.

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