Southside Festival promoter Folkert Koopmans considered calling off the German event after high winds demolished the tent stage and caused the death of a 28-year-old paramedic.
The tragedy came a day before the June 22-24 festival at Neuhausen ob Eck, but FKP Scorpio chief Koopmans told Pollstar that police, local authorities and even the paramedics team all said it should go ahead.
The 75 mph winds demolished the tent, which is the festival’s third stage, and hurled 4-meter poles weighing 10 kilograms (22 pounds) through the air.
One smashed through the roof of a paramedics van parked 50 meters away, killing one of the occupants and seriously injuring the other.
The stage was passed as fit for purpose by local health and safety inspectors and an accident investigation team has yet to establish what caused the tent to collapse.
"They haven’t found any structural faults and at the moment it looks like a tragic accident caused by the strength of the wind," Koopmans explained. "Both of the main stages also suffered minor damage but they were easily fixed in time for the festival to begin. We had to cancel all the acts on the tent stage.
"After last year’s Hurricane Festival [which is twinned with Southside] was flooded we re-evaluated all our safety and evacuation procedures, but it’s hard to see how it’s possible for festivals to have procedures that guarantee tragic accidents won’t ever happen and nobody will ever be killed," Koopmans said.
"What would have happened if the winds had come when the festival had already started and there were thousands of people on the site?"
All the acts scheduled for the tent stage, including Five O´Clock Heroes, Hayseed Dixie, Datarock, Bromheads Jacket, The Blood Brothers and Mute Math, had to be canceled, although the program for the two main stages went ahead as planned.
The tragedy marred what would have been a very successful weekend as Southside sold out its 45,000 capacity. Hurricane, which is 460 miles away at Scheessel, sold 55,000 of its 60,000 tickets.
It’s the second time the two festivals topped the 100,000-attendance mark. The first was in 2005.
Arcade Fire, Editors, Die Fantastischen Vier, Marilyn Manson, Pearl Jam, Placebo, Snow Patrol, Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth, Frank Black, Bloc Party, The Bravery, Incubus and The Good, the Bad & the Queen were among the acts to play both.