Green Day defends festival performance following acrobat's death

Green Day is defending its performance at a Madrid music festival where an acrobat plunged to his death moments before the punk rock band took the stage.

Frontman Billy Joe Armstrong says punk rock band wasn't told about tragedy on stage until set was over

Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, seen here performing in March in Brooklyn, New York, said in a statement Sunday that the band didn't know an acrobat had died on stage prior to their performance at the Mad Cool festival in Madrid Friday. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Green Day is defending its performance at a Madrid music festival where an acrobat plunged to his death Friday less than an hour before the punk rock band took the stage.

In a statement posted on the group's official website, lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong said members of the band weren't told about "the horrific accident" until their set was over.

"We didn't even know there was an acrobat performance at all," Armstrong posted Sunday. "These festivals are huge. There are so many things happening at the same time it's impossible to keep up with every performer/artist."

Pedro Aunion Monroy died during an acrobatic performance at the Mad Cool festival in Madrid, Spain July 7. (Facebook)

The band was criticized by some fans after the group performed as planned at the Mad Cool Festival in Spain with only a short delay, even though Pedro Aunion Monroy, a choreographer and experienced dancer, was killed on the same stage while performing an acrobatic routine immediately before. Monroy fell from a box suspended in mid-air but it's unclear what exactly went wrong.

Green Day tweeted its 4.74 million followers immediately after its two-and-a-half hour performance that the group only got the news about the death after leaving the stage. Still, they faced backlash.

Armstrong said Sunday that the band, which was warming up backstage about a kilometre away from the main area, was only told there was "some sort of security issue" causing the delay. The musician argued that was "a normal occurrence and procedure at any show."

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

Organizers of the Mad Cool festival said Saturday they chose to proceed with the scheduled performance on the advice of security officials. There was concern that panic and chaos would ensue if the crowd of 45,000 people was told to vacate the event at once.