Police preparing for flood of BTS fans as supporters set up camp more than 24 hours before show
7-member group from South Korea is playing 3 sold out shows in Hamilton
Hamilton police are making special preparations and studying strategies used by U.S. services ahead of an expected flood of fans for international boy band sensation BTS.
The seven-member South Korean group, also known as Bangtan Boys, is playing three sold out shows at the FirstOntario Centre Thursday, Saturday and Sunday night and already a ragged string of more than 50 ardent supporters were setting up along York Boulevard Wednesday afternoon with plans of camping out overnight to secure prime spot on the floor.
The diehard campers are hoping for first dibs on bracelets to be released Thursday morning that will denote who gets into the venue and when. Police say they're aware of the importance of that order and believe tolerating with the overnight lineup would be better than allowing the chaos of a box-office rush.
"Hamilton police are aware of the concert and potential issues that could arise," wrote Const. Jerome Stewart in a media release, adding officers had already been down to the makeshift camp to speak about safety.
Hey <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HamOnt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HamOnt</a>, regarding the pre-concert line-up outside <a href="https://twitter.com/FirstONT_Centre?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@FirstONT_Centre</a>. HPS & on-site security are working together to monitor the crowd. The line-up will be permitted as long as its conducted in an orderly fashion & does not interfere with pedestrian & vehicular traffic.—@HamiltonPolice
"We discussed safety planning and reminded them not to obstruct the passage of pedestrians on the sidewalk and vehicles on the roadway," he said. "We explained their presence will be permitted as long as the group does not become disorderly."
The pop band has a rabid following around the world and earlier this year its album Love Yourself: Tear became the number-one album in the U.S. — the first album sung primarily in a foreign language to hit the top spot in nearly 12 years.
BTS faithful who were setting up tents and rolling out sleeping bags on the sidewalk refused to speak to CBC News.
"Don't even look at me," said one woman.
"We're not talking to you or any media, it's general consensus," said another.
A Twitter Account called BTS Purple Ribbon ARMY Canada warned hardcore fans that lining up more than 24 hours in advance could cause problems.
"We know everyone's excited about the Hamilton concerts; but camping outside the venue is not allowed," read a post. "Police are already forcibly removing campers & if the police keep removing u, u may get arrested for vagrancy & miss out on the concert."
We know everyone's excited about the Hamilton concerts; but camping outside the venue is not allowed. Police are already forcibly removing campers & if the police keep removing u, u may get arrested for vagrancy & miss out on the concert. Be safe fam. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BTS?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BTS</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BTSARMY?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BTSARMY</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BTSinHamilton?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BTSinHamilton</a> <a href="https://t.co/Hgfhmtblna">pic.twitter.com/Hgfhmtblna</a>—@BTS_PRA_Canada
Although that hadn't happened, a woman sitting in the lineup along the busy road said the misinformation online had fans worried that if word got out that people were planning to stay the night, the crowd that already stretched along a city block could get a lot bigger and they might lose their place.
Protecting their place
Each diehard supporter had a big, red number written in permanent marker on the back of their hand — proof of their place in the lineup for floor access.
After studying what U.S. services have done in similar situations, Stewart said police figured allowing the lineup would be the safest way to handle the situation.
"When police have prohibited the line up/camp out option, they have had to deal with flooding of the box office, when it opens, by youth from all different directions. This has proven to create a greater safety concern."
with files from the Associated Press