The success of last weekend’s Bonnaroo festival, a three-day concert that attracted at least 90,000 people to a Tennessee farm to hear the likes of Bob Dylan, the Dead, and Dave Matthews, was marred by the deaths of two concertgoers. The Coffee County Sheriff’s Department told MTV News that drugs were suspected in the deaths of 20-year-old Brandon Taylor and 22-year-old Amber Stevens, but toxicology results were still pending. The deaths were the first in the festival’s three-year history.
The 90-degree heat and overcrowding may also have been factors. According to Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper, hundreds of fans were treated for heat-related ailments. Also, the Associated Press reports, the sheriff’s department estimated that as many as 150,000 may have attended the festival, held on a 700-acre farm 60 miles south of Nashville, though concert organizers said that attendance was limited to the 90,000 ticket buyers, up 10,000 from last year. The festival was expected to gross $14.5 million, making it the year’s most lucrative concert attraction, Billboard reports.
”When you have this many people out here, the percentages are that there will be something incipient,” said Jonathan Mayers, co-owner of Superfly, one of the festival’s producers, in an interview with Billboard. ”We’ve been fortunate so far that it’s been a small percentage. It’s a big responsibility when you’re out here.”