|Fans kept from peace concert
story by Gina Merlin /
Apr 10 2003
The much-hyped peace concert during Ottawa’s Juno Awards weekend turned into a huge disappointment for hundreds of fans who were refused admittance.
The concert, held at Barrymore’s on Sat, Apr 5, was one of 11 shows at various venues around the city. But fans eager to see a lineup at Barrymore’s that included Ron Sexsmith, Gord Downie, Sam Roberts and Buck 65 ended up standing outside for hours before leaving disappointed and with no apparent way to get their money back.
By 8pm, there was a line that stretched down the block and all the way to O’Connor Street, and the tone of the waiting crowd was notably un-peaceful.
While ticket holders were denied access, media reps were apparently accommodated en masse. The result — Ottawa music fans (and a significant pro-peace faction) were snubbed and left feeling a bit sore about it.
“I know,” says Johnny Vegas, director of entertainment for Barrymore’s. “Normally, we wouldn’t have that situation. Usually when we sell out there is a predictable level of turnover. When two people leave, two more people are admitted. On Saturday, we didn’t have that situation. The bulk of the crowd that got in at 8pm didn’t want to leave.”
Tickets for the sold-out festival were released a week in advance. Ticket holders could exchange them for a wristband that provided access to each of the 11 venues, but capacity issues were anticipated from the beginning.
According to Karen Wood of Ottawa-based Knock on Wood Communications, ticket buyers were informed that they might encounter an overcrowding situation and, in that event, they were advised to move to another venue.
“It’s a shame that the peace concert outgrew the venue,” says Wood. “We didn’t want to overshadow the other performances, but media and public interest in the concert grew organically. Doing festivals at multiple venues like this is a double-edged sword. We didn’t want to compete with the other venues, but that’s exactly what happened.”
Over 200 media requests were placed to attend the show, but despite the appearance that the bar was filled to capacity with reporters, artists‚ managers and entourage, Wood insists that guest lists for the event were kept very tight.
“We reduced the requests to only 30 media personalities admitted. Artists’ guest lists were likewise restricted,but with 17 acts performing and each group including sometimes several musicians, managers and others, we had to be ruthless in who we could and could not admit.”