Citizen John

Because of my own experiences at big concerts, I couldn't help but consider myself lucky after I heard about what happened at last week's Roskilde Festival in Denmark, where nine people died and dozens were injured. The fans were trampled about a half hour into Pearl Jam's set, when people near the front of the stage lost their footing. It's a tragedy to say the least, but one where blame is hard to place. And blame is exactly what friends and families of the victims will be thinking about as the news sinks in. If a security breakdown is discovered, then organizers will be blamed. But when something like Roskilde happens, you have to consider the surge of excitement that fans feel when they hear their favorite music. I know all this firsthand. About seven years ago, I went to see Pearl Jam at the Gorge, and I ended up in a Moses Lake hospital strapped down to a board with a concussion and a lot of cuts and bruises. Dozens of other concertgoers also went to the hospital that night. While Pearl Jam were hitting their stride onstage, fans behind me charged and brought down a containing fence near the stage. Several people became trapped beneath the fence; others, like myself, were injured when the swell pushed bodies forward, knocking down many of those around me. As I tried to help a woman to her feet, another body came crashing, driving me to the ground and knocking me cold. Some fans pulled me out. I woke up as I was being loaded into an ambulance, but I wasn't able to feel my legs and I went into shock. I calmed down on the long road to the hospital and tried to figure out what went wrong and who to blame. I could point the finger at those fans who rushed the fence, but in the end I could only blame them for enjoying the show too much and letting their emotions take over. I never blamed Pearl Jam; I can't imagine what they are going through right now. This latest tragedy comes at a time when the band should be celebrating, having recently released

Binaural (Epic), an album that continues to see them take chances with their sound and play the kind of music they want to play. Now Roskilde has dampened their celebration.

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