The band is currently touring in South Africa and was unaware of the fallen billboard until the end of the gig. They released a statement expressing their “deep sadness and concern for those injured and [their] heartfelt condolences to the family of the fan who died”.
They also expressed the importance of crowd safety reporting that even though the band had no say in the erecting of the sponsored Lucozade billboard “we take the safety of our fans very seriously and our thoughts are with all those who were affected by this tragedy”.
Despite the fact that this unfortunate tragedy was not as a result of the fans as it so often seems to be, it nevertheless reminds us of the risk some bands take when playing to certain crowds and by giving off a certain vibe. A vibe often attributed to the ‘let’s get f***** up, I don’t give a f***’ variety. Although admittedly, when we look at the enormity and subsequent barbarity of someone like Justin Beiber’s crowds it is clearly problematic to be so stereotypical.
There seems to be two categories of people that cause harm at these events. Those who are bowled over by the incredible hype of a band; who in a stupor of excitement cannot contain their suppressed eagerness and as a result end up tripping over their own feet, causing a crowd of people sized dominoes to sweep through the arena; or, there are those who simply like to fight and use the destructive and aggressive nature of the music as a sort of soundscape for their violence.
No one expects to get seriously hurt when going to a gig or a concert but when you think about the, often terrible, logistics of such events, it is almost unsurprising that more accidents don’t happen. I am sure our parents would remember the 1979 The Who concert when 11 people were killed as a result of pushing and rushing to get seats at the front. No one could ascribe such a misfortune to the fault of the band, they are just a great band; it seems to be more true in this instance that the astonishing hype surrounding The Who in the 1970’s was just too much for some people.
It seems, therefore, that you cannot blame anybody or anything in particular for the somewhat destructive nature of hugely hyped up artists or for the subsequent aggression taken too far by pent up fans. Perhaps the focus should be on quality crowd control, sensible ticket selling and sturdy venues, (for those who remember the ceiling falling through at the final Fast Point show in Sheffield this may ring particularly true). It seems the moral of the story is to be extra careful when seeing both pop sensations such as Justin Bieber and any bands heavily influenced by punk/rock/death metal/normal metal/math-rock/aggressive-metal-rock/andanyothermadeupgenres.