The first ever London edition of dance music festival Bloc Weekend was closed early, with reports that the event’s site, the new London Pleasure Gardens complex by the River Thames in East London, was dangerously overcrowded with large queues both the enter the site and for tents on site. At 12.30am a decision was made by organisers seemingly, on the advice of the the Metropolitan Police, to shut down the festival, even though headliner Snoop Dogg was yet to go on stage, and the event was due to run to 6am. It was later announced that the second day of the event was also cancelled. The site was set up to open just in time for the Olympics, with support from both Newham Council and London mayor Boris Johnson, and is organised by the team behind Glastonbury’s Shangri-La area and the site is set to host a wide range of cultural events both this summer and over the next three years, the next of which is the Africa Stage of the pre-Olympics River Of Music event, on 21 and 22 July. Tickets were £99 or £125 for ‘express’ tickets with private bars and toilets and ‘queue jumping’ rights.
In a statement immediately post event, Bloc organisers have said they would welcome input from ticket-buyers as they investigate what happened on Friday. The statement read: “We wanted to reiterate that we have launched an investigation into the events of Friday night. To that end we have opened an email address to which we would like you to submit any information you think may be relevant. We are keen to hear from you so we can build the most accurate picture and report of what happened. As ever, you guys are at the heart of what we do so please drop us a line with any comments on firstname.lastname@example.org“.
CrowdSurge, the direct-to-fan ticketing company that powered ticket sales the Festival issued a statement distancing itself from the problems that occurred at the event. Whilst some web commentators have pointed out the sequential numbering on tickets meant that fans could easily duplicate counterfeit e-tickets, CrowdSurge notes that even if numerous people did arrive at the site with the same barcode, only one ticket-buyer would be able to get past the gates, because the company’s scanners would only authenticate each barcode once. In its statement, CrowdSurge says: “The number of tickets sold for the event on Friday 6 Jul was 15,796 – a figure far short of the 18,000 capacity placed by the festival organisers and the 30,000 posted by London Pleasure Gardens. Throughout the process Baselogic controlled the amount of tickets sold and this was at the discretion of Baselogic, not CrowdSurge”. It continues: “CrowdSurge were advised to ‘shut down’ scanners at 21.27pm on Friday 6 Jul 2012, whilst the queuing barriers were reorganised. At this point 8,000 people had been given access to the site. The entry gates were reopened and scanning and personal searches ceased as per the request of Baselogic and London Pleasure Gardens staff. At no point throughout the scanning process did the scanners cease to operate”. CrowdSurge has confirmed that Baselogic handled all payments directly so customers will need to get refunds from the promoters – but then by Thursday July 12th news broke that Baselogic Productions Ltd had been placed in voluntary administration and Bloc’s website read
“It is with great sadness that we announce Baselogic Productions (who you all know as Bloc) has been placed into administration following the events of Friday evening. The team are working hard with the administrators to investigate the issues that led to the closure of the event and people will be updated as and when we have new information. We ask that you allow the administrators time to conduct a thorough investigation so we can establish the facts. Once again we would like to apologise for all of the frustration and disappointment this situation has caused and thank everyone who has supported the team over the years, your continued support means so much to us”. The appointed administrator is Jamie Playford of Parker Andrews Insolvency Practitioners.
Bloc joins a ever growing list of cancelled events – some because of the weather but an increasing number because of poor ticket sales and other failures. With Bloc, The Last Jubilee and Wowfest all now cancelled, as well as a number of other events. Of particular concern must be festivals where no refunds have been made when events are cancelled and it will be interesting see how the credit card companies treat events in the future, particularly where the credit card operators are first port of call for customers looking for a refund. And we wonder if the UK government will look again at the live events industry with an eye to providing more robust protection for consumers.
For a damning opinion on a summer of some rubbish British festivals, including the Stone Roses Heaton Park shows (which my good friend Alex told me this was truly brilliant show, but otherwise a disorganised pile of total crap including a long walk home back to Manchester at the end) see this blog http://sleeveonline.com/2012/07/07/from-heaton-park-to-bloc-the-trouble-with-the-modern-british-festival/