Green Day Defend Festival Set After Acrobat's Death

"If we had known prior to our performance we most likely would not have played at all. We are not heartless people," Billie Joe Armstrong writes

Green Day has responded to the criticism the band has faced after they performed their headlining set at Madrid's Mad Cool Festival shortly after an acrobat plunged to his death in front of festivalgoers.

In a statement on Green Day's site, Billie Joe Armstrong explained, "Many of you are wondering why we continued to play our show after the accident. Green Day did not hear about the accident until after our show was over. We didn't even know there was an acrobat performance at all."

On Friday night, acrobat Pedro Aunión Monroy plunged 100 feet while attempting a between-sets stunt that involved an illuminated box suspended by a crane. Monroy died from his injuries soon after. 

Even though thousands in the crowd witnessed the tragic accident, Green Day's set was only slightly delayed, which drew accusations of insensitivity on behalf of both the band and festival organizers; Mad Cool organizers stated that the festival continued as scheduled for "security reasons."

Green Day tweeted Friday night following their performance that they didn't learn of Monroy's death until after their set, which Armstrong reiterated in his statement.

"These festivals are huge. There are so many things happening at the same time it's impossible to keep up with every performer/artist. We were in a back stage compound about a half-mile away from the main festival stage," Armstrong wrote.

"We were warming up ready to go at 11:25 pm. 15 minutes prior our tour management was told by local authorities to wait to go on stage because there was some sort of security issue. Security issues are a normal occurrence and procedure at any show. We were NOT told why which is also normal."

Armstrong noted that even though the crowd had witnessed the accident, from onstage the band didn't sense anything untoward had happened. "Everything seemed normal. The crowd and fans had a good time," he wrote.

It wasn't until Green Day returned to the artists compound that the band heard the "shocking news" of Monroy's death.

"All of us were in disbelief," Armstrong wrote. "I don't know why the authorities chose not to tell us about the accident before our concert. All we know is what was said after our concert. This has never happened in the 30 years Green Day have been performing live. If we had known prior to our performance we most likely would not have played at all. We are not heartless people."

The singer wrote in conclusion, "What happened to Pedro is unthinkable. Once again we are heartbroken for his friends and family. We are also shocked and heartbroken for anyone that had to witness this tragedy."