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Organizers contend with big crowd for downtown Grand Forks rock show

Rock cover band Hairball performed at a street dance Saturday night in downtown Grand Forks. Submitted photo.

They came, they rocked, and they left at a reasonable time.

Somewhere around 9,000 people attended a concert by the rock cover band Hairball on a closed-off block of North Third Street in downtown Grand Forks on Saturday night. It was a crowd size that prompted police to end the party early, according to the band's Facebook page.

"THEY SHUT IT DOWN!" said the band's post at about 11 p.m. "The Police asked us to shut 'er down due to over capacity."

But police and an event organizer say that was not the case.

"I'm not sure why they said that," said Sarah Horak, one of the organizers of the Hugo's Third Street Dance, held on the blocks north of DeMers Avenue. "It might have been just for the dramatics of it."

Horak estimated the number of people attending the show as between 8,000 and 10,000, a large crowd for the space and "a little bigger than we expected."

She and other organizers made the decision to end the show about 10 to 15 minutes early, about 10:45 p.m., to provide more time for the large group to disperse. They told the band about their decision, and the show ended with the musicians playing close to the expected length of their performance, Horak said.

"Police didn't ask us to shut it down," she said. "We made that decision with the band."

Grand Forks Police Sgt. Jay Middleton said none of the officers working Saturday night told him anything about police ending the show early.

"I know there were a lot of people down there and officers were busy, but no one mentioned anything about the dance itself," Middleton said.

In addition to police, private security was hired for the concert, said Horak, who is an owner of downtown bars Brick & Barley, O'Really's and Level 10.

The crowd was bigger than they expected, but Horak said the concert went as planned.

"It was just a lot of people for that space," she said.

Dave Sears, who works at concert sponsor Half Brothers Brewing, said the show ended at the expected time, but without any encores.

"It was kind of an abrupt ending," he said. "I think a lot of people were expecting encores."

Hairball manager Mike Findling said he was not in Grand Forks for the concert and did not have any details on how it ended.

"It's Sunday, and I usually don't talk to my band until Monday," he said of the Minneapolis-based act.

Horak said the band's Facebook post "wasn't quite accurate" after reading it Sunday morning, but praised their performance.

"They did put on a hell of a show," she said. "I don't think I've seen that kind of turnout."

Christopher Bjorke

Christopher Bjorke is the content editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He first worked for the Herald in 1997 and most recently since 2011. His jobs at the Herald have included covering local government, state politics, business and economics, and the health care industry. 

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