New safety measures are unobtrusive and effective - and last year's dead are not forgotten...
ROSKILDE FESTIVAL ended peacefully last night (July 1) after an emotional four-day weekend of sober memories and drunken celebration.
Despite the shadow of last year’s tragedy, in which nine Pearl Jam fans were crushed to death next to the main Orange stage, new safety measures proved mostly unobtrusive and the atmosphere was generally upbeat.
Under Danish law, the festival organisers were initially not told the names of the nine who died last year. To send their condolences, they had to contact the families via the police. They invited all nine families to attend Roskilde 2001 to see the safety improvements for themselves, and to pay tribute to their loved ones. In the end, 40 guests from four of the affected families were present at the opening ceremony. They also helped christen a permanent memorial area dedicated to the fallen fans just after midnight on Friday, the anniversary of the tragedy, with torchlight and trumpet salute.
Festival organiser Lief Kov announced on Sunday afternoon (July 1) that accident levels at Roskilde 2001 were no higher than usual. “We have had a lot of injuries, but no deaths apart from a Swedish man who died here on Wednesday, so far it’s believed from natural reasons. The other incidents have been broken fingers, people stepping on glass, trying to eat mushrooms that were not for eating. We don’t have the figures yet, but the message we have is it’s normal or below normal.”
Skov also declared the new safety fencing around the main Orange stage, designed to funnel fans into a protected stage-front area, had been a great success, even faced with large crowds for the likes of Robbie Williams , Faithless and The Cure. The festival’s newly instituted ban on crowdsurfing was breached by “about 30” people, who had their wristbands replaced with a green warning bracelet as part of a “two strikes and you’re out” system. This proved an effective deterrent, as none re-offended.
But Skov added that the festival organisers are still learning from last year’s tragedy, and have embarked on a three-year site improvement plan. “We are happy to call this not only the 31st Roskilde festival,” said Skov, “but also the first.”
Despite heavy rain on the Saturday night, Roskilde remained user-friendly and smoothly run all weekend. Sunday night’s festivities closed withThe Cure, who had postponed their set from last year as a mark of respect, and Patti Smith, who pointedly played Pearl Jam‘s ‘Alive’ as a homage to the dead. As one ecstatic Cure
fan, 24-year-old Anna Knutsen, told NME.COM, “this is what Roskilde is about. Of course the deaths were a tragedy, but this festival is bigger than that. Roskilde is about people coming together, for celebration.”