Festivals can be a lot of fun, but behind the scenes they are far from a walk in the park, so when amateurs attempt to pull off something of the magnitude of even a small music festival, disaster often follows.
But even some of Australia’s worst run festivals such as Heatwave and Blueprint would blush at the complete and utter cock up that was the Metal Open Air Festival, due to be held in Brazil a few weeks ago.
The festival fell over just one day into a three day calendar of events after the sound and lighting operators packed up and went home, and 30 bands pulled out when they discovered their accommodation was a group of horse stables near the festival site.
When the festival finally did kick off at 10.30am on the Friday, there was no music, no bands to go on, and nobody had bothered to organise any food or beverage merchants.
Ticket holders also had problems getting onto the site, after a disagreement between the promoter and the state health department about food. The Health Department ordered that because each day went for 15-hours, patrons must have access to food, but the promoter had banned the entry of any type of food.
According to Classic Rock Magazine, one of the bands that actually tried to make it to the festival, Hunger, rocked up to the airport but found out that the promoter had forgotten to confirm their air transport and so were unable to travel to the site.
Another headliner, Venom, said their South American work visas had been mistakenly sent to Africa so they weren’t allowed to travel to the country. You really can’t make this stuff up.
One band, Megadeth, did perform on the Friday night – albeit seven hours late – but most of the bands who made it on site simply refused to go on stage. Anthrax backed out due to a lack of sound equipment, and the festival’s entire sound crew reportedly quit because they had not received their payment in time.
Yes, the self-proclaimed “biggest heavy metal festival ever organised in Brazil” may have being getting a little ahead of itself – it doesn’t appear that anyone really organised anything.
The promoters of course denied responsibility for the disaster at first, but later admitted to angry crew, artists, and patrons that they’d suffered financial difficulties from extremely poor ticket sales.
“Due to massive technical and administrative problems, we were forced to cancel tonight’s show,” said Hansi Kürsch from Blind Guardian. “As far as we understand, it seems to be the local management who has not been able to secure a proper festival environment, anymore.”
“Things are pretty out of hand there. We feel very sorry about this totally unsatisfying situation, but the mistakes made by the local promoter makes an even improvised show impossible. I know that we have the most dedicated fans and I count on your understanding. In the future, we will be more careful in confirming such festivals.”
The frontman of Dio Disciples, the act set up to preserve the live musical legacy of Ronnie James Dio singer, agreed with Kürsch. “The signs of impending disaster were there from the moment I arrived,” he said. “Rumours of bands not showing due to not getting paid. Contracts not honoured. Then we heard the sound and light companies were pulling out.”
“The upshot for me and my fellow Disciples, who actually went there and were willing to play right up to the death: 15,000 miles half way round the world, a total of 70 hours travelling there and back, to sit in a hotel in paradise waiting for a festival that never was gonna happen.”
“Great to see the lads – but it’s a long way to go for dinner. The promoters blamed everyone but themselves. But here’s an idea: if you want to be the boss, the buck stops with you.”
Anyone thinking it’s easy to run a festival should take note.
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