Dio Disciples singer Toby Jepson says he’s sorry for fans after his band travelled 15,000 miles to play the Metal Open Air Festival in Brazil last weekend – only to discover 30 bands had pulled out and even the sound and light companies had gone home.
The three-day event was billed as South America’s answer to the successful Wacken Open Air extravaganza in Germany.
But a stack of big names – including headliners the Rock-N-’Roll Allstars plus Saxon, Anthrax and Blind Guardian – subsequently refused to appear, reporting they hadn’t been paid. Another headliner, Venom, said their South American work visas had been mistakenly sent to Africa! After a handful of acts including first-night headliners Megadeth had performed seven hours late, the plug was finally pulled.
Organisers, who are said to have offered horse stables to act as a campsite and just one bank of portable toilets without lights, at first denied responsibility for the disaster, but later admitted they’d suffered financial difficulties.
Jepson is one of several singers who performs with Dio Disciples, the act set up to preserve the live musical legacy of Ronnie James Dio, and he’s gearing up to front the reactivated Little Angels.
He says: “The signs of impending disaster were there from the moment I arrived. 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 singer adds a personal tribute to the ticketholders he met during his brief stay. “My dad, who made the trip with me, had a ball – hanging out with rock stars and drinking the local brew with some very cool, gentle-natured Brazilian rock fans who just wanted what their ticket said they were due. Brazil is a great country. It’s a visit I’ll remember for that at the very least.”
And he has a final word for event organisers, who have been described as “shysters” in some quarters: “The promoters blamed everyone but themselves. But here’s an idea: if you want to be the boss, the buck stops with you.”