At least one person was arrested early Sunday after music fans toppled a fence outside a downtown club and police and private security struggled briefly to subdue an unruly crowd.
On the final early morning of South by Southwest, an official showcase at Beauty Bar's outside stage by Toronto noise punk duo Death From Above 1979 turned violent.
After the club at 617 E. Seventh St. reached capacity, leaving many outside, the crowd dismantled sections of a chain-link fence, then hurled objects at police and private security, preventing them from entering the breach.
Private security guards used pepper spray to keep the crowd back, according to two witnesses and video accounts of the incident.
Police said Sunday night that they couldn't provide details of the arrest, including the identity of the person arrested or the charge.
The incident provided a sour final note for a SXSW marked by unusually large crowds and at least one other instance of fans toppling a fence to gain access to a show: Thursday night's free performance by the Strokes at Auditorium Shores.
Hundreds of people waited in line for hours to see Death From Above 1979's first show in five years. But fans of the band said the performance turned ugly after many people were turned away.
"I started to hear people screaming, like they were in a lot of pain, and that's when I saw the pepper spray," said freelance photographer Ian Witlen, who said he was denied access to the venue despite having credentials. "It was a security guard on the other side of the fence that was spraying out toward people, and other guards had cattle Tasers."
Witlen said the band had played just a few songs when fans pulled down the fence near an alley off Sabine Street . A video he took shows security guards blocking the breach until police arrived. He described officers as wearing riot gear and pushing the crowd back with mounted patrols.
Police were called to the scene about 1:20 a.m. Police spokesman Wuthipong "Tank" Tantaksinanukij said he was not aware of any officers using pepper spray or Tasers.
Several videos posted online show members of the crowd shouting and throwing objects at officers, horses and private security guards. One video shows a security guard catching one of the objects and hurling it back toward the crowd.
Bart Butler, partial owner of Beauty Bar, said the bar did all it could to prepare for the expectedly large crowd, including hiring 11 additional private security guards.
"Honestly, it was just an epic ending to a wild week," he said.
Tantaksinanukij said police left after the fence went back up and the crowd moved away from the back entrance to the venue.
Several videos online showed the fence being repaired with rope and plastic ties so it wouldn't fall again.
Daniel Berkal, a regular SXSW attendee, said he was at Beauty Bar before the show but left when he saw the crowd growing.
"I just felt like it should have been better organized," Berkal said of security at the show. "I was really concerned about the rowdy atmosphere, and it was clearly going to be a massive show."