Festival casualties ’08!

A grim reminder that rock can still maim you
By DAVID THORPE  |  July 21, 2008

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JUNE 25 | A young man died of meningitis, which doctors believe he contracted by sharing joints with contagious hippies at the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. The reggae-heavy event was held in Boonville, California, an isolated, Steven King–esque enclave of weirdos who speak their own bizarre folk language called “Boontling” and infect outsiders with gruesome diseases. They also have a lovely brewery.

JUNE 27 | Glastonbury, the largest festival in England and indeed the world, was off to a roaring start: first-day crime figures were reported to be six times higher than 2007’s, and more than 450 people received medical treatment for a wide range of revelry-related injuries. That number seems pretty high, especially when you consider that there were only 45 injuries during the entire eight-day course of this year’s “running of the bulls” in Pamplona. Drink that in, readers: rock and roll is a full 10 times more likely to injure you than a surly, highly provoked bull. On the brighter side: 54 hooligans were brought to justice on Glasto’s first day, whereas I don’t think even a single bull was arrested in Pamplona.

JUNE 28 | Notable Glastonbury criminals included Amy Winehouse, who was ushered away by festival security after elbowing a fan in the face. It seems she thought he’d thrown a hat at her iconic beehive. (He had not.) The victim didn’t sweat it. “Not everyone can say they have been hit by Amy Winehouse,” he said. Yet.

JULY 2 | Days later, Travis McCoy of the dubious indie-rap outfit Gym Class Heroes was arrested on the Warped Tour after he smacked someone upside the face with a mic stand. Someone in the audience, it would seem, decided to call McCoy an “ignorant n—r,” perhaps unaware that this sort of behavior warrants — nay, demands — a solid smack in the face with a heavy object. McCoy faces a third-degree assault charges and, let’s hope, some high-fives.

JULY 6 | The inaugural year of Michigan’s Rothbury Music Festival was darkened by the news of two on-site fatalities. Although foul play is not suspected in either incident, it’s still unclear whether headliner John Mayer is responsible for the tragedies; police have not gone on record as exonerating the nice-guy singer. In the interest of journalistic fairness and basic decency, I should point out that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Mayer is involved in any way, but I don’t think I’m gonna do that.

JULY 11 | Ireland’s Oxegen festival, which takes its name from a flammable gas, suffered mishaps appropriate to its moniker. A bus headed for the festival burst into flames; the 40 passengers were left uninjured but busless. On the same night, a woman at the festival suffered singed hair and terrible burns on her hand after an accident with her friend’s “makeshift blowtorch.” Can you think of two words in the English language more suggestive of inevitable hand injury than “makeshift blowtorch”?

Aside from the exciting fire stuff, Oxegen suffered from only the ugly but familiar realities of all British music festivals: some drug arrests, a couple of sexual assaults, and the Manic Street Preachers.

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