Sunday, September 25, 2022

Fire Marshalls Called Out to Packed Xscape Concert at Essence Fest

XScape at Essence Fest (July 2, 2017)
XScape at Essence Fest in New Orleans (July 2, 2017)

*The long-anticipated reunion of XScape was such a hot ticket at the Essence Fest on Sunday that fire officials and added police security were called to the scene.

Tameka “Tiny” Harris, Tamika Scott, Kandi Burruss and LaTocha Scott took the stage together for the first time in 15 years at the Essence Superlounge, one of Essence Fest’s side stages at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. But according to, organizers were blindsided by the size of the crowd awaiting entry. Hundreds of fans crowded the entrance, hallways and exit lanes outside the Superlounge, prompting organizers to call for extra police security.

Eventually, the fire department showed up…with bad news.

At around 8:45 p.m., Captain Michael Flot announced that the venue was filled to capacity and no one else would be allowed in.


Outside the lounge, Xscape fans were growing frustrated. Many people had bought tickets for Essence to see the R&B group reunite onstage.

“XScape main stage! XScape main stage! XScape main stage!” the crowd chanted in an attempt to have XScape rescheduled to the main stage, where there were many empty seats available as Trombone Shorty performed.

New Orleans Police Captain Ernest Demma said he had worked more than 20 Essence Festivals and this crowd was bigger than any he had ever seen outside of a Superlounge.

Officers had already formed a human wall outside the Superlounge’s doors by the time XScape took the stage inside. One of them made use of a megaphone to try and clear out the crowd, nearly half an hour after Xscape was set to perform.

“You will be able to see XScape’s performance on the main stage,” he said. “Please return to your seats.”

Many in the crowd took that to mean the live performance would be moved: People ran, friends called friends to let them know and the crowd nearly cleared. Around 30 loyal and skeptical fans held firm in their spots outside the door.

Demma explained to a | The Times-Picayune reporter that the show would actually be streamed live to the screens at the main stage, and XScape would continue their performance inside the Superlounge.

Inside, XScape took the stage and sang “Do You Want To,” paid homage to MC Lyte with “Keep On Keepin’ On” and, of course, “Who Can I Run To.”

“In the last 15 minutes, the plan became to draw as many people away as possible,” NOFD Captain Flot said. “We did what we had to do to displace the crowd.”

Eventually the holdouts were rewarded and allowed to calmly enter the Superlounge one by one, just two songs into Xscape’s delayed performance. The R&B group belted their hits to the excited room, which had dipped well below capacity by then.

Watch a clip from their performance below:




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