The cancellation of the Bulgarian SONISPHERE festival was a major disappointment for many fans. It is interesting that there are attempts of covering the inadequate behavior and incompetence of promoters behind disinformation aimed at passing along the blame to someone else. These actions culminate in the accusations towards the fans for “lack of festival culture”. Almost one month has passed since the moment when the dreams of many people to see their favorite bands in their own country were shattered. Quite soon everybody began to forgive and put everything aside. But we have not forgotten and do not want the things to remain this way. We want a meaningful explanation and the whole truth!
On the top of that, Mr. Peter Petrov, as a promoter representing Balkan Entertainment Company (BEC), saves this to the Bulgarian fans and tries to blame them for the cancellation of the festival with the insane assumption that the fans are boycotting their favorite bands by not buying tickets! It’s strange that nobody dears to ask him straight what is the reason for the cancellation so all the facts to be exposed and to make everything around this messy situation pretty clear. And if accidentally he is asked some uncomfortable question he says that “he is not allowed to talk about that”?! However, we believe that many people deserve to know the truth so everybody will be able to realize it for their own with references to some facts.
Let’s go back to 2010 when The Big Four with other very commercial and successful bands were in the line up of the festival SOFIA ROCKS – POWERED BY SONISPHERE. We emphasize on the POWERED BY. Mr. Petrov so desperately wanted to make money from the arrival of METALLICA, RAMMSTEIN, MEGADETH, SLAYER, etc. so he signed a contract for the franchise of SONISPHERE. Pretty solid, fatty and tasty bite...
The tickets for the event were sold like hotcakes. “Vasil Levski” stadium was bursting at the seams full with die-hards and ordinary fans. Well, but here it comes the next year and the new package of bands, which unfortunately seems to be the weakest of all the SONISPHERE festivals this year. Mr. Petrov is under contract and the solid, fatty bite is not that tasty anymore. What do we do in this case? Well, we organise SOFIA ROCKS again, advertise it better and count on it. We announce SONISPHERE (because we cannot refuse it) and stay with the minimal package of bands without adding others. We place the festival in the middle of nowhere (where “the wild wind blows”), put the highest price for a metal event so far and hope for some sort of sales. But of course these sells don’t come easy and are even scandalously low. Only the presence of names such as SLIPKNOT and IRON MAIDEN attract some sort of attention. In one moment it becomes clear that it is better to cancel the festival and pay all the forfeits than to make it with these minimal sells and paying the costs for conducting the event and the honorarium. Moreover, the venue – the national hippodrome, which is in a pretty bad state, was supposed to be put in decent shape to meet the requirements for such an event.
SONISPHERE festival is a world-class event and everything for its realization comes with a strict schedule. From the announcement of the festival, through the start of ticket sale and publishing news about the event to the payment of fees to the groups. Can you explain now why SLIPKNOT and ALICE COOPER removed the date for the concert from their sites? Probably after they didn’t receive the appointed honorarium on the appointed date, the arrangement has been dropped. So the bands are released from their obligations to the Bulgarian festival. But fans were still buying tickets and rumours about the possible cancellation of the festival began to circulate through the specialized forums. There is almost no advertisement for the festival, there isn’t news for it, but people have heard that there will be such a thing. Tickets are still in sale, right! Meanwhile, Mr. Petrov answered questions in interviews why this year SOFIA ROCKS and SONISPHERE are two separate events in the following manner: “Because if something happens with SONISPHERE, I don’t want to hurt SOFIA ROCKS!”. Helloooo, what about the official managers if they had heard how you put priorities to the events? More or less even back then it was clear what lies ahead!
The conditions for canceling a SONISPHERE festival is:
1. Illness or injury to any of the artists
2. Natural disaster
3. Non-payment of fees
Circle the correct answer.
The day of truth was approaching (June 9th), when the German media revealed the shocking news about a special headline SLIPKNOT show in Germany on the date scheduled for the Bulgarian festival! But how? Why? What now? The following statement appeared in the official web site of the band: „Unfortunately the Promoters of the Sofia Sonisphere date have decided to cancel the show”. AtthesametimeMr. Petrovclaimed: “We did not cancel anything… We are trying to find out what is happening and will be seeking our rights”. How convenient!
How do you organise an extra concert? You have to negotiate for months for such an event and the fact that it will takes place on the same date means that the management of the band knew that there was something suspicious. It is not possible to announce a concert for a specific date just like that and to start the ticket sale on the next day. Don’t pretend to be out of clue, Mr. Petrov... Oh yeah, what happened with the “seeking of the rights” procedure?
This led to Tuesday (June 14th), a week before the date of the festival. The fans had been waiting for five days only to be informed that there will be no festival – something that was known from the promoters for months (maybe even on the press conferences for the announcement of the event). How will you explain the fact that people working in BEC admit that there were no resource for doing such a festival even when it was announced?
Some fans organised themselves literally for hours and hit the road on the other day for Athens. Tickets? There were available. It was too late for ordering and shipping. The Greek promoters announced on their web site that tickets will be sold on the festival site “especially for our Bulgarian fans”. Detailed information about the festival have already been published – time schedules for the buses departing from Athens to Terra Vibe, the order of the bands, the starting time of each performance, etc. These things had been known for months. Here we only heard for such things but nothing more was disclosed. Oh yeah, actually parking tickets were released!
Perhaps, as most of the concerts by contract, Mr. Petrov has the right to announce no later than one week before the event that it will not be held. And he made the most of the situation (we mean selling more tickets for the other festival SOFIA ROCKS before the news of the cancellation of SONISPHERE) by announcing the cancellation around noon, exactly one week before the event with a short statement including that DUE TO LOGISTICAL REASONS THE FESTIVAL IS CANCELLED by the general manager. Where were these logistical reasons when you announced the festival? How do you explain the fact that even the official managers are/were surprised by your statement?
Here comes and the even more offensive interview by Mr. Petrov in the studio of Z-Rock (Bulgarian rock radio), where he was speaking about the cancellation of the festival as not a big deal! The mister promoter stated that: “We don’t have to conduct a festival or a concert at any cost”. We don’t argue about that, because everyone is looking for the profit, but at least show some sort of intention and desire to organise the event. The printing of the ugliest concert posters we have ever seen can not convince us about your strong will to bring the bands in our country. The statement to IRON MAIDEN fans was: “You had to buy tickets when was the right time.” Mr. Petrov, we don't think that you are the right guy who can tell us when we are supposed to buy our tickets. Even more, after saying that you understand the difficult financial situation in Bulgaria. The very way you refer to the fans is disgusting and wrong. Treating people like a number equaling the price of the ticket and nothing more than this. In the same interview you gave an example with the concert of LIMP BIZKIT in 2009 in Sofia with audience numbering only 2000 people but you had needed 5000. What does “needed” means? When you need an audience, learn to treat them like human beings, not like 150 leva (The price for the festival ticket this year. It equals on 75 euros) and have the dignity to apologise to them when you are wrong.
After all, the thing that came a bit too much was that the fans had waited for five days to understand that everything was a lie. And after that the troubles with returning the tickets started. 98% of the fans were not able to collect their money back on time, so they could not react and travel to some of the neighboring countries to see their favorite bands alive. That was the real insult to them!
On the day when the event was supposed to take place, dozens of fans from all over the world were in Sofia. They had to spend money not only for concert tickets, but also for flight and hotel reservations, arrangements for absence from work, etc. They were wandering aimlessly around our lovely capital. All of them had read that there were “logistical problems” and wanted to know the whole truth. They imagined that there was some kind of a problem with the festival venue. But now these people will learn the truth. Our fan club will send also an official mail to the management of IRONMAIDEN with all of the stated things above. You are right, Mr. Petrov that IRON MAIDEN probably will come again in our country, but we will make everything possible not to be invited by you.
We, the fans of IRON MAIDEN, insist and expect an apology from you, for everything you have said since the cancellation of the event and for spoiling the opportunity for a lot of us to see IRON MAIDEN even once this year!
For a handful of Bulgarian fans the consolation was the Greek SONISPHERE. The festival took place despite of the high tension in our south neighbor. It was not cancelled due to “logistical problems” or “reasons outside organisers’ control”, but was once again conducted very successfully. It represented everything that was supposed to be the Bulgarian festival, and even more!
FAN CLUB IRON MAIDEN BULGARIA