One person is being treated for life-threatening stab wounds and several others are injured following a series of brawls at a Pusha T concert in Toronto, say police.
Toronto Police spokesman Const. David Hopkinson said officers responded to several alleged assaults at the Danforth Music Hall during Pusha T’s performance on Tuesday evening after someone rushed the stage, setting off a mass brawl.
The stage was cleared, he said, and several people suffered minor injuries as they tried to escape the melee, while other fights waged on concurrently.
A person who was stabbed during the incident went to hospital on his own, said Hopkinson. Two others were treated in hospital for injuries not believed to be life-threatening, he said, and three more declined to receive any medical treatment for their injuries.
Hopkinson said progress has been made in the investigation, but he was not aware of any arrests as of Wednesday afternoon.
Emergency workers were already on standby at the venue when the violence erupted at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, a safety measure he said is common at Toronto concerts.
The venue, the Danforth Music Hall, said on Twitter Wednesday evening that it is “fully co-operating” with the Toronto police investigation and said it wouldn’t be commenting further. The event’s promoter did not respond to a request for comment.
Concertgoer Adde Mohamed said he sensed that security was on high alert as the crowd waited for Pusha T to take the stage in rapper rival Drake’s home turf.
“You would have expected something to happen with Pusha T in Toronto,” said Mohamed. “People like to say that Toronto is Drake’s city. They already had their beef.”
And soon enough, it was raining beer.
A video shows Pusha T trying to dodge the deluge and debris being hurled by about 15 agitators, Mohamed estimated. And positioned front-and-centre, he was right in the splash zone.
“There was probably about like six or seven (beers) thrown,” he said. “Which is pretty ridiculous … because they wasted money to come in, they wasted money on beer only to throw it.”
Attendee Dhruv Bhatt said at first, Pusha T seemed taken aback by the downpour. But then, he realized “it was more malice than celebratory.”
As Pusha T was whisked backstage, Bhatt said several concertgoers breached the metal railings, leapt on stage and “knocked the hell out of” each other.
Video taken by Mohamed shows several people beating a man lying on his back before he managed to jump offstage. Security personnel can be seen ushering the sea of brawlers out of the venue, some still throwing punches as they were evacuated to boos from the crowd.
Mohamed said the commotion only lasted for a few minutes before Pusha T returned to the stage to perform his song “Infrared,” in which he accuses Drake of using a ghostwriter. As he finished the song, Pusha T alleged that the beer-throwers had been paid to disrupt his show.
“It genuinely felt like he was yelling at us, which was unbelievable. You can tell how pissed off he was,” said Mohamed. “He’s just going off. He’s not really saying Drake’s name, but you could tell everything was aimed at him afterwards.”
After a few songs, with police assistance the venue decided to shut down the concert, Hopkinson said.
The incident has been pegged as the latest round in a long-simmering feud between the rappers – speculation that Pusha T seemed to stir by retweeting posts alleging those involved were fans of the Toronto superstar.
Representatives for Drake and Pusha T could not immediately be reached for comment.
In May, Pusha T fuelled rumours that Drake had a secret son in the diss track “The Story of Adidon,” accusing him of failing to take responsibility as a dad. The song’s artwork features Drake in blackface, a photo the former actor said was taken out of context.
Drake’s initial lack of retaliation was perceived as a low point for the rapper-singer. But after dodging the topic, Drake addressed his son in his June album “Scorpion.”
Rap battles, said Bhatt, are supposed to be duels of craft, not a combat zone embroiling the artists’ fans.
“It’s supposed to be kind of like a sport, it’s not supposed to be this whole violent thing,” he said. “You have to be careful when it becomes that. It’s definitely not something you want to condone.”