A lighting grid on the set of the Justified and Stripped Tour featuring Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and the Black Eyed Peas fell on Saturday before a show in Atlantic City, New Jersey, causing several performances this week to be canceled.
Besides the stop in Atlantic City, additional shows in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have been pushed back until repairs can be made to the pop stars’ stage set. The postponed shows include Monday (August 11) night’s show at the Pepsi Arena in Albany, New York; Wednesday’s show at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey; and Thursday’s show at the Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut, according to a source close to the tour.
However, the tour is expected to resume by Saturday for the gig at Uniondale, New York’s Nassau Coliseum. Though efforts are being made to reschedule the dates, it’s undetermined when the postponed dates will be revisited.
The collapse — the second one at Boardwalk Hall in nearly three years — occurred just before 1 p.m. on Saturday while crewmembers were setting up the stage. A suspended lighting grid and an attached false ceiling had been lowered so that stagehands could attach sound and lighting equipment to both structures, and the collapse occurred as they attempted to raise the “supergrid” back into place above the stage.
The rig lurched downward and came crashing down, sending about 30 crewmembers running for cover. Three stagehands were injured and two were taken to the Atlantic City Medical Center, where they were treated for cuts and bruises.
Officials with Boardwalk Hall released a statement Saturday afternoon saying a supplemental rigging structure had buckled. The venue remained locked down as local, state and federal officials, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, continue to investigate. A fire crew remains on standby inside the building in case the pyrotechnic equipment should ignite during the investigation.
The 100-by-100-foot supergrid was part of a $90 million renovation project for the nearly 75-year-old Boardwalk Hall, host to the annual Miss America pageant. The grid was structured to accommodate larger acts with customized sound and lighting. A similar collapse occurred during the planning of 2000′s pageant, which, at the time, was attributed to the supergrid not being attached to the ceiling.
The collapse is estimated to have caused more than $1 million in damage to the show’s lighting, sound, video and staging, according to a joint statement from Justin Timberlake’s record label and the concert promoters.
“We are all a bit shaken up,” Christina Aguilera’s mother, Shelly Kearns, wrote in an e-mail to a fan viewable at Livedaily’s Web site. “We truly don’t know how long it will take to replace things and get back on the road again, but right now our focus is on how grateful we feel. Had it been just a few moments later … or even a couple of hours later, there would have been casualties.”
Tour openers Black Eyed Peas concurred. “Cats could have died,” Will.I.Am told MTV News on Monday. “We’re the first band that goes on. Justin [Timberlake] is the first person who soundchecks. I’m just glad nobody got hurt.”
The rappers also said they gained a new appreciation for the people behind the scenes who perhaps inadvertedly put themselves in harm’s way.
“A lot of the time, people on the stage overlook the people who put it together,” Will.I.Am said. “People are putting their lives on the line. Those are some big, elaborate stages, with pyrotechnics, big lighting rigs. Thousands of pounds you’re performing on, and putting your life in the hands of people who do that successfully.”
“Up until this point, things were like clockwork,” Will continued. “You look at that stage and it’s huge. Every single nut and bolt, everything was put together so precise, everything’s on time, explosions on time. If you stand in the wrong place, somebody’s going to get burned. Because they got fire for real. If it would have been us [putting the stage together], it would have been some burnt-out Peas. You really got to applaud them, the people who built that stage.”
The rappers also shared a concern for disappointed ticket-holders. While they didn’t have any immediate answers about refunds or rescheduled shows, they did promise that things would get back on track — and soon.
“[There are] too many kids out there to let down,” Will said. “So I hope they find a way to K.I.M. — keep it moving.”