The big night certainly did not go as planned. The first Rock and Reggae Concert arranged by promoters Music Republic was shut down before headliners Third World and Air Supply took to the stage, as the remnants of Tropical Storm Chantal brought wind, heavy rain and lightning to the proceedings. Workers rushed to cover equipment as concertgoers headed for shelter at Camana Bay.
At about 10.45pm it was confirmed that the rest of the event was cancelled.
Later that night the promoters released the following statement: “Tonight’s Rock and Reggae festival was cancelled due to weather causing a safety hazard to the safety of patrons, performing artists and equipment.
“If patrons save their tickets they will receive FREE entry into another Music Republic production in Cayman (date to be announced). *please note, however, tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable, as stated on each ticket.”
Even before the weather became a factor some attendees expressed disappointment with the setup of the site. Some who had purchased VIP tickets at $100 each, promoted as offering reserved seating, arrived to find that there was nowhere for them to sit. One such ticket holder was Mark Williams, who had paid the premium price for a specific reason.
“I bought [VIP tickets] because my wife is three months pregnant,” Williams said, “so I had to guarantee a seat for her. We walked in at about 9 o’clock and there were none available.
“I walked up to one of the people working the event and her words to me were ‘Management have told us if you want a seat, it’s first come, first served’. I ended up going out to the check-in tables at the front to take one for her.”
Others who had bought standard tickets found that they were standing behind a barrier many feet back from the stage to accommodate the VIP section. Concert fan Olwena Griffiths was surprised at the layout.
“I think it’s bizarre the way they laid out the site,” she said. “Being behind those barriers feels weird; like we’re lesser people.”
Supporting artist Chronixx began his set at approximately 10pm, which brought members of the audience to their feet and dancing. The lively up-and-coming Jamaican performer and his band seemed to be hitting their stride when the first drops of rain began to fall. Although a number of people had come prepared with umbrellas and appeared ready to stick it out, as the rain got heavier they began to make their way to the exits to find cover.
Even as tarps blanketed the equipment on stage and a cherry picker made its way onto the scene to assist with covering the exterior speakers, there was still no word as to the status of the event. In the end this reporter asked the stagehands if a decision had been made, and they replied that it “was done”; they were unplugging the equipment. This information was subsequently passed on to the last group of stalwarts waiting under a canopy to see if the concert would resume. Immediately questions about refunds began.
By the next morning attendees were already trying to get refunds at ticket locations such as Reflections, but were informed they would not be receiving any.
“If they cancel the whole thing, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a refund,” said Williams.
When asked if he would use his ticket for the next Music Republic event, he replied “I think it’s extremely unlikely, even though I’m entitled to free entrance with this ticket.”
Griffiths was more disappointed that the night had ended early, and was one of the last concertgoers to leave the venue.
“I just don’t understand why someone couldn’t get on stage, or come and tell us that the remainder of the concert was cancelled,” she said. “It’s a shame.”
Sponsors of the event included What’s Hot magazine, Hurley’s Entertainment, Holiday Inn, Tropicana Tours, Cayman Airways and Camana Bay.