17 Jun 2012

Radiohead Disaster – site report

CX pic, above. Witnesses say a cracking noise like pyro preceded the collapse, which they estimated took 5 seconds. The stage failed just prior to sound-check, at 4pm. Thousands of fans were outside the gates. The band were in the prep room.

UPDATED: CX visited Downsview Park in Toronto on Saturday June 16th and saw first hand the collapsed stage roof for the cancelled Radiohead concert.

Just prior to soundcheck and without warning, in perfect weather conditions of nil wind and 24 degrees (c), the roof collapsed on crew. One was killed, two are in critical condition, and several more are in hospital.



The Live Nation concert was cancelled, leading to hours of chaos for punters. CX arrived and dodged security to take photos. Punters with phone cameras were yelled at, and CX was at one point chased from the public area outside by obviously upset and rattled security.

The concert and live events industry is in shock, after a string of collapses outdoors during last year’s northern summer, most notably Indiana and Pukkelpop in Europe. All the collapses last year had weather as a cause, whereas today’s failure was clearly not.


CX pic

The threat of punitive legislation now hangs heavy over the industry, with Ontario legislators tipped to move quickly on Monday to impose restrictions on future events. Last year a stage roof collapsed in Ottawa, narrowing missing the band Cheap Trick, onstage at the time.

UPDATED: Sunday, Toronto: Overnight no new insights to cause of collapse, but Toronto Police had three forensic officers work overnight. The Ministry of Labour had two inspectors and one engineer at the site late yesterday. This was the final of 11 dates for Radiohead, a sellout with 40,000 tickets sold for between C$81 – $125. Live Nation commenced immediate refunds today.

The crew member sadly killed was aged in his 30’s and remains unnamed. The injury list has been revised to just one 45 year old with ‘non life-threatening injuries’. Recent Canadian stage collapses include Ottawa’s Bluesfest where Cheap Trick were almost killed, and the 2009 Big Valley Jamboree in Alta, which killed one and injured 15.

FOOTNOTE: As fans were turned away, security were instructed to restrict media and deter any photographs or videos. Social media is full of both, but CX was pursued through the adjoining parklands well after all casualties had been evacuated. A show worker, Jeannette Purcell was ordered from the precinct for taking a photo, and as CX exited the public parkland pathway, two security shadowed us for several hundred metres. Upon reaching the main road, CX was kept under observation by a concert worker from a hill, until our ride arrived. TV and other media were allowed to gather on a grass knoll backstage that had very restricted views. At this time, media photography from the public parklands was perfectly legal, yet security were obsessed with obstruction. At one stage CX was in bush cover overhearing security describe us, and issue last seen co-ordinates. We broke cover to shoot the CX-TV News intro, and were then ordered down a steep embankment, and tracked the whole time we remained in the public parklands.

CX pics


Published monthly since 1991, our famous AV industry magazine is free for download or pay for print. Subscribers also receive CX News, our free weekly email with the latest industry news and jobs.