It’s summer, and with the season comes a slew of music festivals. Audiences grow by the thousands each year, but the increase in popularity at these shows has led to an increased threat of concert danger. Half of the news we hear these days about festivals addresses the massive injury or death tolls resulting from stampeding, drugs, alcohol, overheating, etc. Recent years have proven more deaths and intense injuries at festivals (counting four deaths at the 1969 Altamont vs. 19 deaths and more than 340 injuries at the 2010 Love Parade in Germany, according to the Riverfront Times), but this hasn’t scared away masses of people ready to party.
Just earlier this summer at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN, two festival-goers died, with one death directly linked to the overheating condition of hyperthermia. According to the Los Angeles Times, a 24-year-old man died from heatstroke and a 32-year-old-woman was found dead at the campgrounds, with heat as the suspected cause. The Huffington Post reported that this year marked the 10th death at the festival since 2002, despite the organizers’ efforts to create a hydrated and safe environment. The festival did provide cooling water sprays and free water throughout the four-day event, but this could not completely erase the risk that comes with hosting 80,000 concertgoers in an outdoor, 90-degree environment.
At the Electric Daisy Carnival in Dallas, TX, earlier this summer, at least one teen was found dead while dozens of other festivalgoers were rushed to hospitals and carted away in ambulances due to heat- and drug-related issues. EDC is no stranger to scandal; the festival was banned in Los Angeles after a 15-year-old overdosed on ecstasy last year. The Dallas Observer detailed this year’s medical emergencies and how overwhelmed the local hospitals, police/fire rescue teams and paramedics were. As attendees were carted out of the festival grounds by 1:40 a.m., even the main performers noticed the overcrowding of the event: “There were just too many kids on stage,” stated Diplo to the Observer.
Another festival death appeared to have more to do with being over-stressed than overcrowded. U.K. politician Christopher Shale, a friend of Prime Minister David Cameron, was found dead at the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival inside of a portable toilet. According to the Telegraph, Shale’s death came shortly after he received word that “criticisms he had made of the Tory party were about to be made public.” Rumors were divided on whether the death was due to a heart attack or a suicide.
The causes of death vary among these three situations, but the solution, aside from drink water and beware of massive crowds, seems to be the basic buddy system adopted in kindergarten. Travel in packs, look out for your concert brethren and if necessary, channel the Woodstock 1969 mentality that the “man next to you is your brother”—and that you might want to avoid the brown acid.