Safety at music festivals is a highly discussed topic amongst festival goers and organisers, and for obvious reasons. With the incredible opportunities festivals bring for all music lovers, unfortunately there are bound to be accidents when thousands of people (with access to alcohol and more often than not illicit drugs) are all gathered together in a single area. Such massive amounts of people pose an issue to fire and safety regulations; there are many important issues festival organisers must tackle in order to ensure they are able to uphold safety regulations.
While many issues may be out of there control to a certain extent (such as festival goers suffering from alcohol poisoning, individual actions that may be out of anyone else’s control) when it comes to infrastructure, it’s necessary to remain vigilant regarding construction of props, lighting and stage layout.
Unfortunately, accidents and injuries are commonly reported at many festivals. On Saturday, August 31st, Bumbershoot Music Festival based in Seattle, Washington saw the collapse of a barricade during the set of electronic musician Jai Wolf, which injured two dozen. The musician halted his set – luckily, no one was seriously injured: officials at the scene reported that 25 attendees were examined for injuries while 4 people were hospitalised; with minor injuries reported.
At every festival barricades are erected in front of the stage; and at every festival, especially with a large intoxicated crowd, people may find themselves in precarious situations when standing close to the barricade. The excitement and overwhelm of a large crowd packed into a small space inevitably causes a push-back against said barricades, which, if not secured properly may eventually give way. The barricade fall was reportedly in response to the crowd of 3,000 pushing against it.
From experience, it is not unusual to find the stage barricades shaky or unstable, depending on the size of the barrier. For those organising infrastructure, working to ensure the solidity of the barrier may be a difficult task as the number of festival goers and their actions may be underestimated, especially when construction seems to be going smoothly and appears secure. Perhaps it is a matter of expecting the worst, in order to prevent any accidents from occurring.
The fall of the 1 meter steel barricade could have resulted in much more severe injuries specifically if the barricade had been larger, so there is definitely an air of relief that the damage caused was minor and attendees are safe.