Police Say Alcohol May Have Been Factor In Pearl Jam Roskilde Tragedy

Law enforcement continues investigation into concert that resulted in nine deaths.

Danish police attended Pearl Jam's concert Wednesday in West Palm Beach, Fla., and found only one major difference between crowd safety measures there and measures taken at the band's June 30 performance at the Roskilde Festival — alcohol.

"During the concert they stopped selling beer two hours before the concert ended," Bengt Rungstroem, Roskilde police investigator, said. "We don't do that here."

Rungstroem was hesitant to blame alcohol consumption for what happened at Roskilde, where eight fans died during Pearl Jam's set and one more fan died on July 5 from injuries sustained at the show.

"That's just one of many factors we're still investigating now," Rungstroem said. "We are talking to a lot of people and are trying to find out minute to minute what happened that night."

Pearl Jam continued to express remorse and their commitment to preventing future tragedies in a statement issued through their publicist Monday.

"We owe it to the nine young men we lost, all of those who loved them, all of those who were injured, and all of the fans who attend our performances to make sure that all aspects that may have contributed to the tragedies at the festival are examined thoroughly," the band said in the statement.

According to the statement, Pearl Jam also offered to send their security team to Denmark to help festival organizers take steps to ensure the safety of concertgoers at future festivals.

"There are always things that can be learned and hopefully improved upon to help ensure that what happened at Roskilde does not happen again," the statement continued.

During meetings on Aug. 8 and 9, bandmembers sat down with police and recounted their recollections of what happened during their Roskilde set. Members of the crowd slipped and fell in the mud and were later crushed under the weight of other concertgoers. Eight men died of asphyxiation on the scene, and the other died later of injuries sustained during the show.

Details of Pearl Jam's and band representatives' accounts will not be made public until the police investigation is finished, the statement said. Rungstroem said the investigation could take two to four more months to complete.

"It depends on what we find out," Rungstroem said. "We talk to a lot of people about one little thing, one little event in the big picture, and that slows things down."

Bandmembers and police agree that a focal point of the investigation is determining how much time elapsed from the time security workers realized fans were being hurt to the time the band was informed about it. In a July 25 statement, Pearl Jam said it was their understanding that at least 15 minutes had passed and that they believed lives could have been saved if they had known sooner because they could have stopped playing earlier.

Pearl Jam are well known in the concert industry for their safety record and their concern for fans.

"I'd be hard pressed to think of a band more cognizant of fan safety than Pearl Jam," said Andy Cirzan of Chicago concert promoters Jam Production.

On July 25, Pearl Jam released an outline of their concert-safety procedures, which include asking the crowd to refrain from moshing, introducing security team members to fans before the concert begins and discouraging general-admission shows. Roskilde was a general-admission festival; none of the shows on the band's current U.S. tour are, though some offer general-admission lawn seating behind the reserved seat section.