(hennemusic) Pearl Jam have released a statement marking the 20th anniversary of a concert tragedy at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark that left nine fans dead after being trampled in a massive, muddy mosh pit near the stage.
On the road in support of their sixth album, "Binaural", the Seattle band were part of the lineup for the June 30, 2000 show at the annual event. As their evening set got underway, reports indicate the surge of fans in front of the stage saw some fall to the ground as concertgoers tried to offer assistance, while others continued rocking out, unaware of the danger.
According to the original Rolling Stone report, site security alerted organizers about the situation, which led to frontman Eddie Vedder initially asking the crowd to step back to give everyone more space as the injured were attended to on site before the concert was shut down less than an hour into Pearl Jam's performance.
Following the Roskilde incident, the group cancelled the final two shows of a European trek, later referencing the tragedy in their 2002 track, "Love Boat Captain."
"It's been 20 years since that day," writes guitarist Stone Gossard in a statement on behalf of Pearl Jam. "A normal festival show day...show up 5 hours ahead. Wait for your slot. I barely remember it...Sunny, I think. Lou Reed played, I think. Then rain and wind.
"But nothing has been the same since. An unexpected moment intervened that forever changed all involved.
"The 9 young men who were trampled. The lives of their families and loved ones who had to endure imagining their deaths over and over and the reality of never seeing them again. Every person at the festival who witnessed what was happening and tried to do something, maybe pulling someone up, or not being able to...And those, like our band, who never realized anything was going on at all until it was too late...All of us Forever waiting for the news to be different."
"20 years later, our band has 11 more kids, all of them precious, and another 20 years between us," Gossard continues. "Our understanding of gravity and the loss felt by the parents of those boys has grown exponentially magnified as we imagine our own children dying in circumstances like Roskilde 2000. It is unthinkable, yet there it is. Our worst nightmare.
"Every day our hearts continue to ache and our stomachs turn at the thoughts of those young men dying and of what might have been different, if only...but nothing changes. And our pain is a thousandth of that of the families.... the moms and dads, sisters and brothers, best friends...
"Our deepest condolences and apologies to the families who lost their boys that day. To the brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas and friends, all who lost their precious being."
"Everyone failed to live up to what was needed in those hours before and in those days following the tragedy. The festival, the media, us included," he adds. "We retreated and became angry after many reports implied PJ was responsible. Our words were nothing to help at that point. We hid and hoped that it wasn't our fault. We have been trying our best to unhide ever since.
"We've met some of the families over the years. With some, we have forged strong friendships...sharing and supporting each other. Some we do not know.
"Young men who loved PJ and wanted to get up close. That was the through-line of all those who passed that day. We hope we will never know what that loss feels like. We hope. We are forever in the shadow of your pain and loss and we accept that shade and are forever grateful to share that sacred space. The space created by the absence of those 9 young men..."
Pearl Jam accompanied their statement with a video clip featuring nine flames set to a black background and accompanied by a live snippet of "Love Boat Captain." Watch that video here.
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