Spencer from Panic! at the Disco (remember, the exclamation point is back, kids) took to the P!ATD webpage to give his take on what happened at Pukkelpop. Check it!
Our hearts go out to all the people and every family affected by the storm that hit the Pukkelpop festival on Thursday. It was without a doubt the scariest moment of my life and we were extremely lucky that no one in our crew or anyone else we knew was injured. If you’re not aware of what happened you can read a full article here.
We were standing on the side of a stage that was in a large tent holding a few thousand people. We were about 30 seconds from going on stage to start our set when the light rain turned into a downpour….and then the wind hit. The steel beams holding up the tent started swaying, as did the full lighting/sound rig. In fear of it all collapsing everyone started running out. Then the wind got stronger and it turned into chaos. Most of us got separated. A friend and I ended up behind a van to block the wind and I later learned that Brendon, Ian, and Dallon made it into an empty semi-truck. The wind grew even stronger and I watched a 60 foot tall tree get up-rooted, and if it weren’t for the electrical transformer that stopped its fall, it would have landed on the tent right next to ours.
On the grounds where the festival is held there are trees this size everywhere. The van I was behind was parked right next to two of them. So we were staring up waiting to run if one went down. Then a huge tree limb landed about 10 feet from us and we realized we had to get as far away from any trees as possible. So we ran and got behind the closest vehicle that had no trees behind it which ended up being the semi-truck that the other guys were in….Then it stopped.
I can’t put into words the psychological state everyone was in at that point. Trying to calm down while making sure no one around us was injured. My heart was racing, and my hands were numb. We all found each other and luckily no one was hurt. Everyone there: local workers, fans, stage hands, and us looking around at each other astonished at what had just occurred. At that point no one was sure what to do. Our tent hadn’t collapsed, and many fans, unaware of the storm’s effects elsewhere, were chanting for us to play. We then got word from festival management that everything was postponed at least an hour while they checked the structural safety of all the stages.
So we went back to the artist area, and then the stories started coming in. First hearing of stages that had fully collapsed, then of injuries from fallen trees and other objects being thrown around in the wind. Thats when the realization hit me of what a horrible coincidence it was. That kind of storm happens all the time, all around the world, and If you were in a home, or car, or anywhere indoors you would most likely have been safe, and thought of it as a bad storm that lasted 10 minutes. But it’s hard to imagine a worse place to have been hit by winds that strong. 60,000 people outside, many crowded together, surrounded by huge trees, and stages, tents, portable buildings all made to be set up and taken down in a day.
While we watched certain celebrities try to become the spokesperson for the disaster to get there face on t.v. one more time, we got word that the festival was cancelled, and that a worse storm was on its way, so we packed up and left. Over the last 48 hours, while trying to shake our personal experiences in the storm, we’ve been learning of the tragic magnitude of the storm’s effects. We are heartbroken for those lost or injured, and their families. And thankful that more were not hurt and were able to be safely evacuated. As I’m writing this, I’m in Germany at a festival of similar size, looking out at a beautiful day, much like it was Thursday morning. It’s a very strange feeling.
see the article on the bands page: http://www.panicatthedisco.com/news/5d0503-pukkelpop-festival/