Tragic news hit close to home yesterday, when a storm descended upon Pukkelpop music festival in Belgium, collapsing three stages and killing five people, according to Billboard. There have been a few incidents like this in North America this summer: Cheap Trick’s stage fell at a Bluesfest in Ottawa in July; the Flaming Lips’ stage in Tulsa had a lightning rig fall in August; and last Sunday five died at the Indiana State Fair when high winds ripped Sugarland’s stage rig apart.
Smith Westerns were onstage at Pukkelpop as the rig came down around them, destroying their equipment. The band issued a statement about their experience, and the festival organizers have issued one of their own addressing the fallout and canceling the rest of the fest. Both are below this YouTube clip shot on the grounds as wind gusts begin to get the better of the environment. Scary stuff. Our hearts go out to all of those lives affected by yesterday’s affair.
Pukkelpop’s official statement:
Pukkelpop is in deep mourning. We truly sympathise with the families and friends of the victims.
Words are not enough. We have struggled with the decision to continue the festival. Therefore we have decided to cancel Pukkelpop 2011.
What has happened is very exceptional and could not have been predicted. We are deeply moved by all the spontaneous support the festival goers and the organisation have received.
We call on all Pukkelpoppers to return home calmly. Extra buses and trains have been organised to bring everybody home.
Undoubtedly many of you have many practical questions. That is why we ask you to direct them to [email protected]
We ask everyone to understand that this decision was extremely difficult to make.
Smith Westerns (via P4K):
We had just finished the first song of our set at Pukkelpop when the stage/tent started shaking and simply thought it was a storm passing through. I made a comment about Cheap Trick and we were about to play the next one when our tour manager yelled at me to run off the stage. Right then the tress collapsed 1 foot in front of [guitarist] Max [Kakacek]. At this point we thought only the stage broke, not the tent. Amid the chaos it was hard to tell exactly what had happened, but after the rescue teams started coming in it became clear that there were severe injuries and we are now being told there are reports of multiple deaths. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones in today’s tragedy.