Festivals are all fun and games to most, but sadly some don’t always go as planned. With festival disasters making the headlines almost on a yearly basis, we are here to share with you some of the most horrific events (and a couple funny) in festival history.
#10 – Bloc Festival 2012
It all went tits up at Bloc in East London last year, with the whole gig being shut down halfway through the opening night. Firstly, crowds of thousands attempted to board the hired party boat, the MS Stubnitz sailed in all the way from Germany to act as one of the stages only to meet masses of kids that swarmed the boat resulting in immense overcrowding.
Overload of fans was not the only cause of this festival failure though; allegedly the sound systems were low budget and well under par for an event of this scale, and, one of the bars had ran out of booze by half past ten!
Snoop Dogg and Orbital were set to headline the event, and as Snoop’s midnight slot neared the organisers announced across the shoddy P.A that the Dogg would not be performing this evening. Shortly after, the thousands of fans were ushered to the exits and disappeared into the night. For Bloc 2012 was to be no more. Surprisingly, crowds were cooperative and no rioting or violence occurred despite the huge amount of frustrated drunk people.
#9 – 1979 Cincinnati Tragedy
This is a night that many would like to forget, The Who’s Riverfront Coliseum headline show in December of ’79. The 18,000 strong crowd that bought out the box office in less than 90 minutes gathered at the entrance to the venue. When Pete Townshend began his sound check later than planned, fans reportedly lost it, storming into the venue like a herd of angry cattle, 11 unfortunate souls got caught up in the rush and were trampled to death. How The Who dealt with this, I don’t know. Dealing with the fact that people put their lives at risk to see your band play must be a total head fuck.
#8 – Woodstock 1999
The 30th anniversary of this legendary gathering was a cacophony of carnage. With something like 60 punters hospitalised, Woodstock ’99 was one of the biggest disasters in festival history. There was certainly more than one catalyst for the change in Woodstock’s peace and love credential to destruction and damage, but the most obvious party to point the finger at here is the bands themselves. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kid Rock, Insane Clown Posse and Limp Biscuit were all shunned for encouraging the rioting, fire starting, despoiling and general mayhem that unfolded over the July weekend.
Renowned nutters Insane Clown Posse got everyone fired up by throwing $100 bills into the audience, watching gaily as a ruckus unfolded. Kid Rock went on to encourage crowds to pelt the stage with bottles, while the Chili’s covered Jimi Henrix’s ‘Fire’ as the audience in their thousands lit several bonfires. Allegedly, Kiedis compared the blazes to a scene from the 1979 flick Apocalypse Now. But at the forefront of all this madness was none other than prize fool, Fred Durst. When he burst into his timeless classic ‘Break Stuff’ his fans lost it, proceeding to attack MTV’s camera tower with debris, tear down walls and literally break each other. Peace man.
#7 – Reading Riots, Mind That Child
The Sunday night of the annual Reading Festival was notoriously known for its ‘riots’. Stories of flaming poles being thrown through tents, to a horde of drunk blokes setting alight to portaloos, when Sunday night at Reading roles around it’s either join the troops or run for your lives.
As time progressed and Reading’s programme began to cater for a predominantly GCSE audience, riot police were summoned. In 2010, festival organisers instigated strict fire safety rules and any campfires deemed unsafe were to be extinguished immediately by the new fire safety team. Clad in Ghostbuster style suits, wielding extinguishers and water cannons left right and centre, the brigade insured all the teens were left uncooked.
These efforts paid off and the atmosphere amongst festival goers improved, probably as there were less burning tent fumes to inhale. There was even a ban of no more alcohol to be brought on to the campsites after 6pm Sunday evening. Not to worry, you can still empty your wallet at the bar, or if you’re not old enough, drink the warm cider that you’ve had in your tent for 4 days.
#6 – Glastonbury Floods 2005
The weather always seems to screw us at festivals, and Glastonbury 2005 was no exeption. This soggy event was host to one of the most freak storms Michael Eavis has ever seen. The Friday morning of the event saw the festival take a hit from a thunderstorm so powerful that people literally had nowhere to sleep. Tents were unable to handle the immense downpour that was unleashed upon them, and as shown by the picture, you could literally sail your canoe through the campsites.
Despite the wide-spread flooding at Worthy Farm, only 19 people were injured. The BBC met one lad who had to go swimming in neck deep water in search for his car keys – he’d left his wellies in the boot.
#5 – Roskilde Festival Fatal Crush
One of the most saddening stories now, as Pearl Jam plugged in to play Denmark’s Rokslide 2000, a rush of fans were crushed at the barrier resulting in eight tragic casualties. Witnesses reported that a wave of people fell at the front of the crowd, causing a surge of more people behind falling upon them and so on, literally like a line of dominoes. Pearl Jam cut their set and urged people to push backwards but by the time the crowds cooperated it was too late.
As a sign of respect to the families of those lost, Oasis and The Pet Shop Boys pulled out of the festival and the donated their fee to charities and funding for improved crowd control.
#4 – Pukklepop 2011 Five Fatalities
Five people were killed and around one-hundred injured at Pukklepop 2011. The Belgian rock festival was overwhelmed by disaster when two stages were destroyed due to freak storms. Trees were uprooted by insane winds, sent cascading into The Chateau stage causing the whole stage to collapse and giant viewing screens to fall on the audience. Videos of the horror started to emerge after the festival, which you can see below. The likes of Foo Fighters and Eminem were set to headline the festival, but the event was cancelled for obvious reasons. R.I.P to those that got caught up in this utter tragedy.
#3 – ‘Poo girl’ at Leeds Festival 2009
You always hear the horror stories of people falling in the ‘long drops’ of the campsites of Reading and Leeds. If you’re unaware of the term, picture a line of shitters, back to back, each connected to a communal cess pit full of 500 other peoples shit and piss.
18-year-old Charlotte Taylor was incredibly unlucky and got herself stuck facing head down in the shit filled long drops after trying to retrieve her handbag that she misplaced down there. After a grueling 20 minutes, Charlotte was released by the fire service and given a good hose down in front of other festival-goers. Hats off to the poor girl though, Charlotte stuck it out for the rest of the festival, despite being instantly dubbed ‘poo girl’.
#2 – Violence in Altamont at The Rolling Stones Free Concert
December 1969 was a little while ago now, but to those who were at the Altamont Free Concert, it may not feel like it. The event is sadly known for basically marking the end of the 1960’s and the whole peace/love/swinging mentality. Rather than a celebration of such an influential and important decade, this gig is most associated with the murder of Meredith Hunter.
The 18 year old fan was stabbed twice by a Hells Angels motorcyclist Alan Passaro. The Hells Angels mob had been hired as security; although there is confusion around whom they were employed by, and how loose an agreement was struck. But as one could assume, the tactics employed by the Angels to control crowds were pretty brutal. The murder was captured on camera and can be seen in the documentary Gimme Shelter, Passaro was charged with murder but later acquitted on grounds of self-defence because Meredith Hunter was carrying a gun!
Sadly, three others also died at the event. Two people were killed in a hit-and-run and another drowned in an irrigation canal.
The free concert, which was thought to be attended by up to 300,000 people, was put on because of criticisms from journalists saying that gig tickets were too expensive so The Stones reacted with this free event.
#1 – V Festival, Piss Poor
This is probably the best thing we could find. One of the grimmest and disgusting substances to find upon your person is piss, worse, someone else’s piss. Worse still, when you’re already covered in mud at V festival and the next shower you’re going to get is far from soon. But this guy’s game for all of the above, this lover of urine dives right in there, mouth open, ready for a rinse. Great.
PHOTO CREDITS: Andrew Kendall, US Department of energy, Acrobat83