SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Performing Arts Center was evacuated due to a bomb threat on Saturday night shortly before alternative rock headliner Noah Gallagher’s High Flying Birds were set to perform.
In a statement Sunday, New York State Park Police confirmed that the area was evacuated out of an “abundance of caution” due to the threat. K9s didn’t find a bomb after the crowd had exited the summer concert venue, according to officials.
The sudden shift occurred around 9:40 p.m. It was vaguely announced from the stage at the time that the cause was due to “circumstances beyond our control.”
After the first two acts, Metric and Garbage, a bright red message appeared on the screen on stage, “ATTENTION! At this time, we will need to evacuate the venue. We ask that you calmly proceed to the nearest EXIT. Please follow directions of staff and police officers. For the safety of everyone, please do NOT rush or push. Thank you for your cooperation.”
The case is being investigated as a terrorist threat, a class D felony.
Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino and city police spokesperson Lt. Paul Veitch didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Along with state and Saratoga Springs officials, law enforcement from Troy and the Saratoga County Sheriff’s office also assisted on the scene.
“Our love and concern to all the fans at our show in Saratoga Springs tonight,” said Garbage in a Twitter post. “We pray you are all safe and sound. This is f–king insane.”
The band’s bassist originally hinted at a bomb threat in an Instagram post, but nixed prior remarks with an edit. The band later said they had “no idea what happened.”
The show was far from SPAC’s highest profile gig of the summer. The famed outdoor venue is known for attracting large crowds for bands such as Dead & Company and Dave Matthews Band, which is slated to perform this Saturday.
Gallagher is a former member of the 1990s rock band Oasis. Before SPAC, the rocker performed in Clarkson, Michigan at the Pine Knob Music Theatre.
Fans took to social media to express disappointment over the abrupt, unexplained evacuation and demanded refunds.
“What a s–tshow at Saratoga tonight,” Ray Biggs of the Utica area said in a tweet. “Thankfully home safe and sound, but bummed I didnt get to see the portion of the show I paid for.”
Still scheduled was Kidz Bop, a group of children performing pop hits for a young audience. The SPAC season includes more than 20 shows stretching from mid-June to mid-September.
“Very disappointed that the first post in this page after a full emergency evacuation of the [venue] is the routine teaser for tonight’s Kidz Bop,” said William Marley in a Facebook comment.
Promoter Live Nation hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
In a statement, Elizabeth Sobol, president & CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center, noted that the safety and security is organization’s “utmost priority” and after the coast was clear, programming continued as planned.
Concert safety has been an encroaching concern for first responders across the country following mass casualty events. Travis Scott’s 2021 Astroworld Festival performance, a Live Nation event in Houston, ended in 10 people trampled to death and hundreds injured. Five years prior, gunfire at a Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas resulted in 59 people dead and more than 850 injured. Aldean is scheduled to perform at SPAC this coming Sunday, July 16.
“We are grateful for the collaborative effort among Live Nation staff, and the State Park police, state police, county and city police and sheriff teams for their professionalism, vigilance, and continued attention to security measures at our venue,” said Sobol in a statement.
Since July of last year, law enforcement agencies have partnered with groups such as Live Nation and Albany Medical Center to develop a simulated mass casualty training run at SPAC. The first exercise was held on April 29.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.