Less than a day after surviving a stage collapse at the Ottawa Bluesfest in Ontario, Canada, the members of Cheap Trick and their manager Dave Frey are feeling glad to be alive. “We are so thankful,” Frey tells Rolling Stone.
According to Frey, the sudden windstorm that brought down the main stage at the festival came as a surprise. “They said that we should be looking out for a storm but it wasn’t really that apparent,” he says. “I was actually on stage behind the drummer and I was taking a few pictures right before it happened. The air was still and it was humid and then out of nowhere, this wind hit that was just huge. The local news sources are saying 96 miles per hour, another one said like a hundred and something.”
“It just blew everything back, cymbals are flying and everything. And we’re just like ‘get off the stage!’ and then I heard the rivets in the truss just starting to pop. BAP! BAP! BAP! BAP! BAP! It was like the Titanic or something, and it just started coming down, the roof fell,” he recalls. “It hit our truck, which was parked behind the stage and that kept it about five feet off of the deck, and that gave us room to run. We were running as fast as we could.”
As can be seen in some photos and footage from the scene, the audience was in a state of panic. “It was complete pandemonium,” says Frey. “It’s so unbelievable that with everything that happened, with the crowd, tents flying away and debris flying, with everything going on, there were less than a dozen people at the hospital with mostly minor injuries.”
Though Frey and the members of Cheap Trick emerged from the collapse more or less unscathed, their truck driver sustained an injury to his abdomen and a cracked femur, and they lost all of their equipment. “Everything is gone. The gear is crushed and it’s soaked, and it’s part of an investigation with the police department, the fire department and the Ministry of Labor here,” Frey says. “We’re trying to get gear set up for our show tomorrow in Buffalo. Do you know where we can rent a five-neck guitar?”