A teenager suffered a heart attack and about 30 fans were hurt in the mosh pit during Limp Bizkit's performance at the Sydney stop of Australia's Big Day Out festival on Friday, prompting the band to pull out of the tour.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the 18-year-old woman was clinically dead when security pulled her out of the pit near the stage at Sydney RAS Showgrounds shortly after the first song of Limp Bizkit's set.
The teen, who was not identified in the local report, was resuscitated after having oxygen pumped into her lungs and receiving an adrenaline shot from emergency medical technicians backstage, the Morning Herald reported. She was taken to Concorde Hospital in Sydney and remains under observation there.
Six others reportedly were treated at Concorde Hospital for minor
injuries, while up to 30 fans were treated at the festival's medical
tents, which one witness described as "a war scene," according to accounts in the newspaper and the Australian Associated Press.
The melee began as some members of the 55,000-person crowd surged to the front of the stage while Limp Bizkit played. The band stopped the show for 20 minutes, and frontman Fred Durst asked the crowd to calm down and "chill out" as the heart-attack victim was pulled out of the pit.
In a statement issued late Friday, the rock group said it wanted to immediately stop the show, but was warned by local police officials that that might cause a riot.
The band continued playing, but stopped several times to calm the crowd as local fire marshals sprayed water on the audience in what organizers said was an attempt to reduce "the temperature and volatility of the situation."
Afterward, Limp Bizkit pulled out of the three remaining Big Day Out concerts in Melbourne (scheduled for Sunday), Adelaide (February 2) and Perth (February 5) over concerns about the "cavalier attitude toward fan safety by festival organizers."
"We'd like to express tremendous sorrow over the injuries suffered by our fans during the Big Day Out concert," Limp Bizkit said in the statement. "We pray for the life of the heart attack victim."
The band said it alerted the promoter, Creative Entertainment of
Australia, about crowd-safety issues after the first Big Day Out show in Auckland, New Zealand, on January 19, and again after the second concert in Gold Coast, Australia, on January 21.
Limp Bizkit requested additional security and a T-style barricade, but said it was rebuffed by Big Day Out co-promoter Vivian Lees, even after the band threatened to leave the tour following the Gold Coast show.
"We basically begged this guy to increase the security measures," Durst said in the statement, "and were told he has been doing the event for 10 years and that he knows what he's doing and to leave him alone."
"We tried to explain that crowds are different from 10, or even three years ago," said Jeff Kwantinetz of Limp Bizkit's management company, The Firm. "We were ultimately frustrated by his response."
Big Day Out organizers initially commended Limp Bizkit for their "full cooperation ... through this difficult situation and their commitment to the safety of their audience," but in a later statement the organizers expressed "relief at the departure of Limp Bizkit."
"The Big Day Out has a principal commitment to crowd safety and security of all patrons," the organizers said. "The measures proposed by Limp Bizkit were substantial, untested and radical changes to the existing structures and procedures in place for the show as understood by the Australian safety authorities, including the police and planning bodies."
Organizers initially announced they would replace Limp Bizkit by elevating an Aussie group, Powderfinger, to the headlining slot for the three remaining shows, but have instead decided to leave the lineup as is, with the bands playing later than originally scheduled.
German metal band Rammstein will now serve as Big Day Out's closing act. Limp Bizkit said they plan to return to Australia and "play for our fans under our own terms and with proper safety and security."
The Big Day Out incident is the latest in a string mosh pit violence over the past two years.
In June, nine people died as a result of a stampede at the Roskilde festival in Copenhagen, Denmark, while Pearl Jam performed (see "Pearl Jam Performance Struck By Tragedy").
At Woodstock '99 in Rome, New York, organizers criticized Limp Bizkit for encouraging an unruly audience to tear up portions of the stage setup during their performance, causing security to delay the show some 45 minutes prior to Rage Against the Machine's set. "Everybody was trying to pinpoint [the blame] on us," Durst told MTV News later that year. The band responded with the video for "Re-Arranged," which Durst said "is about being persecuted for something you're not guilty of." (see
Crowd safety issues were also partially responsible for Glastonbury Festival organizers' decision to suspend this year's edition of the U.K. festival in order to develop strategies for maintaining control over the 100,000 that annually attend the concert (see "Glastonbury Festival Taking Year Off To Deal With Crowds").