Music festival chaos in Ontario leads to calls for refunds

‘When I created this festival, the vision was to bring everybody together… It was never my intention to scam anyone or take their money and not give them performances’

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Concertgoers are demanding refunds after a chaotic weekend that saw two music festivals in Ontario slammed over changed venues, no-show artists, poor sound quality and inadequate VIP zones.

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The Kingston Music Festival at Downsview Park in Toronto and Kultureland at Ajax Downs have been criticized sharply online by fans who were in attendance.

Criticism of Kingston Fest, a dancehall and reggae music festival aimed at celebrating Jamaican culture, focused on sound quality, security issues and the event’s non-existent VIP section, which some fans had paid hundreds of dollars extra to gain access to.

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A video from the festival posted to social media shows hundreds of people rushing towards what was supposed to be a VIP zone — a large area in front of the stage. The video shows the large crowd toppling the fence and pushing past security. Another video shows security trying to hold up the fence before it falls, allowing people to stampede over it and each other and make a mad dash for the stage.

That video also includes a clip of of people climbing over the tables in what was reportedly supposed to be the “mixed drink bar” in the VIP section while Toronto Police stand nearby.

“Kingston Fest is a joke. If you paid for VIP I feel so sorry for you,” Elysia Moniz wrote on Twitter.

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Festivities at Kultureland were no different for fans. The event was scheduled to take place at the Markham Fairgrounds, but the second day was moved to Ajax Downs just two hours before the scheduled start time. The new venue was located approximately 30 minutes away.

Organizers posted the change to Instagram, blaming “Unforeseen Circumstances.”

Ferell Laditi of Code R.E.D Entertainment, one of Kultureland’s organizers told The Canadian Press on Monday that staffing and security at the original venue “just wasn’t up to par” so he “had to call in a lot of favours” to move the event at the last minute.

“Looking back at it now, maybe I should have just cancelled,” he said.

“But when I created this festival, the vision was to bring everybody together, bring all the cultures, and give something that the city can hold onto. It was never my intention to scam anyone or take their money and not give them performances.”

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Attendees complained they had to scramble to get to the new venue and that some of the acts never showed up, including Stonebwoy, Fireboy DML, Lojay and Kamo Mphela.

Laditi told The Canadian Press that visa problems prevented the African artists from entering Canada.

Grammy-nominated American singer Jhené Aiko, who was scheduled to headline the event, pulled out at the last minute.

A video on social media shows fans chanting “refund” while waiting in vain for acts to appear on stage.

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Tickets ranged from $200 for pre-sale general admission to $400 for VIP ticket packages. Kultureland tweeted an apology on Monday and said that people would receive a refund for the second day.

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Ticket prices for Kingston Fest, a highly anticipated event featuring artist such as Shenseea, Popcaan and Skillibeng, ranged from $80 for general admission to $200 for VIP.

Jamaican artist Popcaan took to the stage towards the end of Kingston Fest to express his concern for fans. He also demanded that promoters issue a refund.

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He noted that the festival production was particularly disappointing, and if it weren’t for the fans who spent their hard-earned money, he would have gone home.

He later reiterated his call for refunds in an Instagram story.

Many attendees complained that they couldn’t hear some of the artists during their performances, including Skillibeng who appeared to perform with no sound from his microphone, according to a video.

Fans accused the organizers of deleting negative comments and only sharing videos on social media of the few performances with good sound quality.

Representatives for Kingston Fest did not respond to the National Post’s request for comment, but they did issue a press release late Monday afternoon.

In the release they blamed the technical difficulties on crowd of general admission attendees who stormed the VIP zone, saying they damaged the sound system in the process. According to the festival, some people even hopped on stage and refused to leave.

The festival announced that the next event they host will be 50 per cent off, but many fans were not satisfied.

“Why would anyone want to go to anything else y’all host??? Please call y’all banks & open up a dispute to get that money back,” one user wrote.



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