For the third time this summer, a massive concert stage has crumbled in inclement weather. Five people died and more than 40 were injured Saturday night when a powerful gust of wind struck the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis moments before Sugarland were scheduled to perform for a crowd of approximately 12,000. Sara Bareilles had left the stage just 30 minutes before the giant columns of rigging crashed to the ground, crushing and trapping dozens of fans at its foot. The singer later tweeted, "I'm speechless and feel so helpless. Please send love and prayers to Indianapolis tonight. My heart aches for the lives lost. #indyiloveu."
The Fair was shut down Sunday as organizers debated whether the event should continue. A message posted on its official site states it will resume "in some form" today, and USA Today reports activities will start with a public memorial for the five victims. There's been no word as to whether any of the musicians booked to play the damaged stage will still appear as planned. Janet Jackson is scheduled to perform on the 17th, Train and Maroon 5 are booked for the 18th, and Lady Antebellum and Brett Eldredge are supposed to play on the 19th. In the days before the collapse, MercyMe, Third Day, Big Time Rush, and Days Difference performed on the stage. Sugarland never got onstage at the Fair and cancelled their following concert at the Iowa State Fair on Sunday. "A piece of our heart is left in that grandstand," singer Jennifer Nettles posted on the band's website. "May God provide peace and healing to the people of Indianapolis."
Stage security is becoming a growing concern this summer. In late July, the stage at Canada's Ottawa Bluesfest blew over moments after Cheap Trick's set, injuring two people severely. Two weeks later, a stage in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was struck by high winds as the Flaming Lips were preparing to perform, causing their 15-foot video screen to crash down onto the back of the stage (there were no injuries). The Ottawa incident is currently under investigation -- Cheap Trick have blamed the company responsible for building the stage for the accident -- while the Lips have called their incident a "freak thing."
The Indiana tragedy is one of the worst concert disasters in the U.S., joining a list that includes the stampede at a 1979 Who show in Cincinnati where 11 fans died and the blaze at a 2003 Great White gig in West Warwick, Rhode Island, where more than 100 lost their lives after the band's pyrotechnics ignited a fast-moving fire.
[Photo: Joey Foley/Getty Images]
- Indiana State Fair
- Sara Bareilles