One thing unites many of the worst concert disasters in history: large crowds. As witnessed at the Astroworld Festival in Houston (Texas) on Nov. 5, 2021, large crowds can make events extremely dangerous. It's not the first time people have been killed at a music festival or concert. Not counting the 2017 terror attacks on Ariana Grande's concert at Manchester Arena or Route 91 Harvest in Las Vegas, these are just two examples of some of the most tragic and fatal concert tragedies.
These 11 concert disasters are the worst in 50 years.
11. Astroworld Festival
November 5, 2021 -- Houston (Texas)
The soaring crowds at Travis Scott’s Astroworld music festival caused pandemonium that became fatal. Scott, who was the festival's founder, and the headliner, started the chaos. People crowded onto the stage and squeezing together so tight that they couldn't breathe, creating chaos. Some people suffered cardiac arrest. Eight people were declared dead at the end, while dozens of others were rushed to the hospital as a result of what was officially called a mass casualty accident.
10. Roskilde Festival
June 30, 2000 -- Roskilde (Danemark)
Nine men were killed in a Pearl Jam concert in 2020 when crowds rushed to the stage, and those at the front fell. BBC reports that the band was asked to stop playing and then, once they realized the problem, asked fans to withdraw. But it was too late. Many had fallen, but the crowd continued to push on, sucking those at the bottom. Pearl Jam later referred to the incident in "Love Boat Captain", with the line "Lost nine dear friends we'll never meet."
9. The Who at Cincinnati Riverfront Stadium
Dec. 3, 1979 -- Cincinnati, Ohio
The Who concert at Cincinnati Riverfront Stadium saw more than 18,000 tickets sold. There were only 25 officers assigned to crowd control. The set was scheduled to start at 8 PM. However, the doors were still closed at 7.45. An anxious crowd, having heard The Who's warmup, mistaking it as the opening number, rushed toward the doors.
The general admission seating accounted for 80 percent of all tickets sold. This was attributed to the rush to get in as people clamored for good seats and a great view of the show. New regulations were established to maintain order at large concerts, which are still in effect today.
8. Mawazine Festival
May 23, 2009 -- Rabat (Morocco)
According to Al Jazeera this festival was nine days long and was intended to promote Morocco's status as a modern country. The event saw many international stars, including Stevie Wonder, Kylie Minogue and Ennio morricone. 11 people were killed after Abdelaziz Stati performed on the last night of the festival.
BBC reports that the victims blamed police officers who shut down several exits and forced them through crowds "that weren't destined for the purpose". Officially, the BBC stated that the fatality was caused by fans climbing fences. One of these collapsed, leading to 11 deaths.
7. Love Parade
July 25, 2010, Duisburg, Germany
Berlin declined to host the Love Parade 2010 due to safety concerns about the large crowd. Bochum also cancelled the Love Parade in 2010 due to inability to accommodate so many people. It was held in Duisburg in 2010.
The underpass leading to the concert grounds was clogged by people who tried to enter the tunnel, even though no one was allowed into the festival. The tunnel collapse caused panic and left 19 people dead. Due to their injuries, two survivors died later in hospital.
6. Ghost Ship Fire
December 2, 2016, Oakland, California
A fire broke out at an underground electronic music festival in Oakland and trapped 36 people. The incident took place in a former warehouse-turned-artist-collective venue called the Ghost Ship, which had no smoke detectors or sprinklers, and contained a significant amount of flammable material. This was the most serious mass casualty incident in Oakland since 1989's Loma Prieta earthquake.
5. Collapse of the Indiana State Fair Stage
August 13, 2011, Indianapolis, Indiana
The 2011 Indiana State Fair saw strong winds cause damage to the stage and metal scaffolding, while thousands packed the concert hall. When 70-mile-per-hour winds whipped through the fairground, the stage collapsed and audiences waited for Sugarland to perform outdoors. 56 concert-goers were killed in the disaster.
4. Santika Nightclub Fire
Jan. 1, 2009 -- Bangkok, Thailand
While hundreds of people rang in the New Year at Santika Nightclub, it is not clear what caused the fire. Some people mention sparklers. Others suggest an electrical problem. Other sources claim it was started by pyrotechnics at the club. The blaze could have been started by fireworks outside of the club.
Another fact is that the club was not approved as such and did not receive a fire inspection. The club was equipped with one fire extinguisher and inspection papers to ensure that it continued to operate. To prevent patrons skipping out on their bill, exits had been welded closed. This meant that there were no marked exits. The resulting fire claimed the lives of 66 people.
3. Station Nightclub Fire
February 20, 2003 -- West Warwick (Rhode Island)
The Station Nightclub Fire saw a large crowd, with 100 people dying while they watched Great White. The band's manager set off some pyrotechnics to set the insulation ablaze. It took awhile for the audience understand that the flames were not part of the show.
After they had done so, there was an exodus of people who tried to flee the same way they had entered. The stampede that followed crushed and knocked many over, and many people died from smoke inhalation or suffocation. Ty Longley, Great White's lead guitarist was also among those who were killed.
The club's owners, Anheuser–Busch, Clear Channel Broadcasting and the town West Warwick, were able to settle for $176 Million to be divided among survivors and the families and children of those who died in the fire.
2. Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire
May 28, 1977 -- Southgate (Kentucky)
The Beverly Hills Supper Club, a sprawling club in Kentucky that was just across the bridge to Cincinnati, Ohio, was known as the Beverly Hills Supper Club. On the night of fire, several events were taking place simultaneously, including receptions, banquets and a John Davidson concert. They were all linked by narrow passageways in the same structure.
Although the exact cause of the fire is unknown, it is known that two waitresses discovered the fire while they were waiting. Two comics, who were entertaining a crowd of about a thousand people in a room meant for 600, were the main occupants of the Cabaret Room.
Walter Bailey, a busboy, interrupted the show to announce the fire. While some people moved towards the exits that he had pointed out, others did not take the threat seriously. The fire started to burn through the room and panicked the crowd. People were then trampled while trying to escape.
1. Cromanon Fire
Dec. 30, 2004 -- Buenos Aires, Argentina
Deaths in 194
Cromanon was a Buenos Aires rock club located in Barrio Once. Republica Cromanon was jam-packed with nearly 3,000 people who came to see Callejeros on the night of the fire.
Club had many doors that were locked permanently. Emergency exits were also fenced off to stop people from slipping in. Republica Cromanon had been about a month late for a fire inspection and no sprinkler system. The fire quickly spread from the ceiling to the netting. Nearly 200 people died from inhaling toxic fumes and smoke, rather than being burned or crushed.
This article was originally published in 2011 and has been updated on November 8, 2021.