Last Updated: Wednesday, February 01, 2017

NEWS BULLETIN: 25 Concertgoers Injured; Floor Collapse At Sweden’s Amplified Festival (Fans were “dancing”)
Updated: Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Norrsland Opera House. Photo: Per Backstrom (Johan Gunseus) c 2005

At least 25 rock fans were injured when temporary flooring collapsed during a pop rock concert at the Norresland Opera House, in Umea, Sweden (January 27). This was the first year of the rock festival.

The concert by Mando Diao, is one of Sweden’s most popular bands with an international reputation. The Beatlesque band was performing during the last day of the Amplified Festival.

According to Swedish news reports and Associated Press, the opera house had apparently been modified to accommodate a festival seating (standing room) crowd. A raised platform in front of the stage was constructed from steel beams and wood, said venue management.

During Mando Diao’s widely anticipated evening performance, concertgoers were said to be “dancing” when a number of wooden planks in the temporary floor collapsed, according to news reports. Concertgoers by the dozen fell approximately 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) to the permanent floor below. At least 25 people were injured. Some suffered broken bones and other serious injuries. Authorities say there were no life-threatening injuries.

“Each of the wooden panels should be able to hold over a ton, so it’s quite remarkable that it broke like this,” Norrland Opera House Chief Executive Magnus Aspegren told Sweden’s The Local newspaper. That might be true if the panels were designed for a static audience with weight equally distributed. But, Crowd Management Strategies Inc., theorizes this may not have been the case Saturday night.

The description of the crowd as “dancing” when the floor collapsed is curious, to say the least. In contemporary concert jargon, dancing is a euphemism for moshing or pogoing (jumping up and down) or both. It is also likely the Mando Diao concert crowd of approximately 800 people, was heavily concentrated near the stage, where the platform had been built.

Theoretically, if a large number of fans were pogoing or moshing—rather than staying relatively static---the kinetic energy produced by the crowd could put unbearable pressure on the temporary flooring. The producers of the Amplified Festival and venue operator would have, or should have, known this. Just as they should have expected the Mando Diao crowd to be high energy.

No doubt an investigation will be undertaken by Emeau safety authorities and possibly other Swedish regulatory bodies. At this point, many questions remain unanswered about this preventable incident. For example, Crowd Management Strategies, Inc., would like to know the answers to these questions:

- Was the temporary concert flooring designed to support a dense and kinetic crowd that would reasonably be expected to mosh, pogo or sustain crowd surging?

- Was the temporary flooring used for other Amplified Festival concert performances before the accident?

- Was the temporary flooring inspected before the January 27 Mando Diao concert?

- Was a capacity limit established—and enforced—for the temporary opera house flooring area?

- Had the Amplified Festival organizers prepared a written risk assessment for the temporary concert flooring? And, had the organizers taken into account, among other things, past concert crowd safety issues where temporary concert flooring was constructed for highly active concert crowds?

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