Approximately 60 people were treated for mild eye and throat irritation after pepper spray was reportedly used at a Travis Scott concert in Rome on Monday night.
Social media videos show a group of spectators moving suddenly and taking refuge eventually on a nearby hill. Some climbed over barricades, others appeared to be crying.
The majority of concert-goers seemed unaware of the disturbance, and the performance continued uninterrupted.
About 60,000 fans attended the rapper’s debut performance of his chart-topping “Utopia” album, where he was joined on stage by controversial performer Kanye West.
The use of pepper spray in Italian crowds is not uncommon, and some incidents have resulted in multiple deaths. In 2018, six people died and hundreds were injured at a rap performance in central Italy a after the use of pepper spray resulted in a stampede.
Scott’s past performances have also had tragic consequences. In 2021, 10 people died and hundreds were injured in a crush at a concert at the Astroworld Festival in Scott’s home town of Houston.
In a separate incident on Monday night, a 14 year old climbed onto a nearby hill to see the concert and fell about 4 meters (around 13 feet). He was taken to a hospital for his injuries.
The concert took place at the Circus Maximus, a vast archeological site where ancient Romans held chariot races. The excited spectators jumped vigorously during the concert, causing the ground to shake and Romans who lived nearby to take to social media to ask if an earthquake was underway.
The Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, which measures earthquake magnitude, said on its website, “we have received many requests for information from Roman citizens who felt one or more earthquakes after 21:30.”
A seismologist with the Institute Giovanni Diaferia noted that the impact measured from those jumping at the concert was equivalent to “a magnitude 1.3 earthquake, at each jump” in a social media post on Wednesday.
Alfonsina Russo, an archaeologist who runs the nearby Archeological Park of the Coliseum, criticized the choice of venue for such an event.
“The Circus Maximus is not a field, it’s a monument; it has subterranean galleries, archeological areas. You can’t have tens of thousands of people jumping up and down for hours,” she told Italian media.
The Circus Maximus is flanked by the Roman ruins on the Palatine Hill, and other historic sites such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Baths of Caracalla are nearby.
Russo said she had voiced concerns regarding the use of the venue with Rome’s mayor. She suggested that more appropriate musical events, like opera and ballet, be held there.
Rock concerts should be held in stadiums, Russo said.