May 17, 1996 — Smashing Pumpkins, a band that has vocally opposed moshing and other forms of ritual rock-concert mayhem for more than a year now, were onstage in Dublin, Ireland, last Saturday night when a teenage fan was crushed and fatally injured in exactly that sort of melee.
The date was a festival-seating affair, no chairs on the main floor. Smashing Pumpkins were in mid-set when moshers surged toward the stage and began trampling one another, despite the presence of 110 security guards. Seventeen-year-old Bernadette O’Brien was trapped in the pile-up in front of the stage, and was so seriously crushed that she suffered a heart attack. Singer Billy Corgan warned the crowd that people were getting hurt, while at one point, bassist Darcy Wretsky announced: “There’s a girl dying backstage, do you care?” Bernadette O’Brien was taken to a hospital, where on Sunday she was taken off life-support, and she died.
Smashing Pumpkins issued a statement of sorrow and regret, and
canceled a concert in Belfast scheduled for Sunday. The Dublin free-for-all may have been just the sort of mindless concert catastrophe that Corgan had in mind when he shared these thoughts with an audience in Chicago last year.
BILLY CORGAN, Smashing Pumpkins (On stage in Chicago): I just want to say one thing to you, you young, college lughead-types. I’ve been watchin’ people like you sluggin’ around other people for seven years. And you know what? It’s the same s***. I wish you’d understand that in an environment like this, and in a setting like this, it’s fairly inappropriate and unfair to the rest of the people around you. I, and we, publicly take a stand against moshing!
At last word, Dublin police were said to be investigating why the bars in the Point Theatre were allowed to remain open for the teen-packed show.