“There’s been a lot of stuff that’s been said about me that’s absolutely not true,” Smollett said on Saturday, reading from a crumpled piece of paper. “I was bruised, but my ribs were not cracked, they were not broken. I went to the doctor immediately.”
Smollett said he was not hospitalized, and that “Above all, I fought back,” inserting an expletive.
That line received the loudest cheers of the night, but the crowd was enthusiastic even before the performance began. The line for entry stretched down the street as fans waited in the rain and activists handed out pamphlets.
“I don’t know why they’re here for this show,” Marlo McKinley, who bought tickets last month, said of the activists. “But the fact all this is happening, that he’s still performing, is fantastic.”
Tickets for Smollett’s show were still available as of Tuesday afternoon, but they sold out within 48 hours of the assault being reported. Though a Friday meet-and-greet with fans was canceled for “security reasons,” there was no enhanced security presence at the show on Saturday aside from a pair of officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Several members of the Troubadour’s security team said the venue had not hired additional security for the event.
Some attendees said they had bought tickets in a show of solidarity but left feeling energized by Smollett’s message and music.
“I don’t watch ‘Empire,’ I hadn’t listened to his music, but I really wanted to support him,” one of them, Chris Katrandjian, said after the show. “The strength he exhibited was not only admirable, it was inspiring.”
Another attendee, Royce Johnson, said he had found Smollett’s show uplifting.
“As gay men, there is a proclivity to be victimized in many ways, and it’s part of our active narrative,” he said. “But watching what he did tonight, it left me feeling empowered.”