At most Warped Tour shows, the biggest hazard to your health is usually a stray Dr. Martens or an errant chain wallet. But at the tour's August 4 stop at the Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia, some fans discovered that the dangers can come from above.
As New Found Glory were playing their set, the skies over the Pavilion parking lot suddenly darkened and the wind began to pick up. A meteorological phenomenon called a microburst — a sudden and forceful downburst of air — ripped through the lot.
"This weird gust of wind came out of nowhere," said guitarist Chad Gilbert. "And it took this big balloon advertisement through the air, and [the balloon] broke through this fence and started dragging it."
The temporary fencing slammed into the crowd, knocking several fans to the ground; one fan was pinned beneath it. NFG bassist Ian Grushka saw the whole event unfold in front of him, and he stopped playing and went over to check on the injured fan.
"I saw the kid underneath the fence, and he was not breathing," Grushka said. "He was purple, and he had a big cut across his eyebrow where he had gotten hit [by the fence.] Pretty much everything went crazy from there."
EMTs were attending to another injured concertgoer — a girl who had passed out in the mosh pit — when the balloon broke free. They quickly left the girl to assist the fan trapped beneath the fencing and began administering CPR. The injured fan went into convulsions and was airlifted to a hospital. New Found Glory did not finish their set.
"All the kids were waiting for us to finish playing, and we just told them, 'Sorry, we're not going to play when there's a kid passed out in the crowd to the left of us and a kid getting airlifted and not breathing to the right of us,' " Gilbert said. "We're not actors, and we can't be up there and be like, 'All right! Let's finish the set!' But all the kids there understood."
The fan was held overnight for observation before being released.
"We haven't had any problems the whole tour. This was the first time," Gilbert said. "And it was all because of a freak gust of wind."