Chicago Band OK After Belgian Stage Collapse

"Smith Westerns" was performing at Pukkelpop Festival when storm came through, brought down structure

A member of a Chicago-based band remarked to their Belgian audience about Cheap Trick's recent stage collapse just seconds before their own structure crashed down around them, the band said in a statement released late Thursday.

None of the members of Smith Westerns were injured during during the stage collapse, which happened during their performance at the the Pukkelpop Festival in Hasselt, Belgium. Published reports said however, that as many as four people were killed. Several others were injured.

"We had just finished the first song of our set at Pukkelpop when the stage/tent started shaking and simply thought it was a storm passing through. I made a comment about Cheap Trick and we were about to play the next one when our tour manager yelled at me to run off the stage," said  Cullen Omori in a statement released through the band's management company. "Right then the tress collapsed... At this point we thought only the stage broke, not the tent.

"After the rescue teams started coming in it became clear that there were severe injuries and we are now being told there are reports of multiple deaths. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones in today's tragedy," the statement concluded.

Paige James, the mother of 20-year-old drummer Hal James, said she was told the band was back in their hotel shortly after the incident and was "considerably shaken."

"Their equipment was destroyed," she said, but added she was "very, very grateful that our children weren't hurt."

She said she was feeling a great deal of compassion for those who were injured and killed in the accident.

The band's statement appears to be a repeated apology for a post made to Twitter that was quickly deleted.

"Stage collapsed max almost got crushed by the tress. I hope pukkelpop has insurance bc all our [expletive] is broke," Omori said on Twitter, according to

He removed the message when the extent of the damage began to emerge.

"Apologize to anyone who mistook tweet. Wrote direclty [sic] after running off stage," he said.

The stage collapse comes less than one week after a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair during a storm.  Five people were killed, including an employee at Chicago's Howard Brown Health Center.

A little more than a month ago, another stage collapsed during the Ottawa Bluesfest in Ontario while Cheap Trick was performing.

The frequency of the incidents were not lost on James.

"Obviously I'm concerned in general, especially after Indiana.  It all just seems ridiculous," she said.  "Something's going wrong somewhere."

Smith Westerns recently performed during Lollapalooza and were in the midst of a European tour.

Video from YouTube: bvandebroek Belgian Tent Collapse
Contact Us