Angry fans have accused a festival organiser of “passing the blame” after a lack of bar staff was blamed for heavy queues and bottlenecks.
Fans who went to watch Liam Gallagher play on June 29 and Queens of the Stone Age on June 30, both in Finsbury Park, are complaining in droves on Twitter after the organiser, Festival Republic, posted a statement focusing on the bar issues.
“Here in Finsbury Park on Friday and Saturday there was unprecedented failure of up to 40% of our staff to turn up. As a consequence people had to wait an unnecessarily long time to be served. For this we unreservedly apologise to the audience,” read the statement, which Festival Republic - part of the global promotions company Live Nation - posted on behalf of the Worker’s Beer Company.
“So that it’s clear neither Liam Gallagher nor Queens Of The Stone Age should bear responsibility.
“This is also the case for Festival Republic who have no responsibility for us letting down the audience and we have already apologised to them.”
‘Pathetic to pass the buck’
“True, there was a lack of staff, but the staff that were there were clearly untrained and inexperienced,” wrote one fan on Twitter.
“YOU are the company that hired Workers Beer Co. and YOU are responsible for keeping your customers safe and satisfied.
“Don’t pass the blame and pay us back,” wrote one.
One fan, Sheena Shah, has even started a change.org petition to get a refund from Festival Republic. Over 1,200 people had signed at the time of writing.
Ms Shah wrote that the queues for bars, water points and toilets made people miss bands, and said "the only (very small) exit that you planned to channel all crowds through was clearly not appropriate and this proved true with crowd control issues, trampling, just overall dangerous crowd management".
‘Hoping the furore will die down’
Neill Burns, 33, who was at the Queens of the Stone Age show, told talkRADIO that the problems went beyond the bar queues, and that he hadn’t had any luck getting in touch with Festival Republic.
“I got through to a lady I assume was on reception, and she said if I emailed they’d get back to me within 14 days,” he said.
“Do they think that’s an adequate amount of time to address people’s serious concerns? She said there wouldn’t be any further comment, and said nobody there has said they’re going to look at it until next week.
“It just seems they’re just hoping the furore will die down.”
He added that he thought it was “completely unfair for them to pass it all onto who’s running the bars”.
“I don’t know if it was just that the venue wasn’t big enough or they’d oversold tickets, but it was mad in there,” he said.
“There was no space anywhere. If you look at the map [of the event], two of the bars that were on the map weren’t there, four of the toilets weren’t there, two of the water stations weren’t there.”
‘My bag didn’t even get checked’
Finsbury Park has a capacity of 40,000 people, and both the Liam Gallagher and Queens of the Stone Age shows sold out.
Mr Burns said that fans were having empty bottles confiscated despite Festival Republic’s website saying that empty bottles of 500ml or less were permitted.
“A lot of people had to queue up and buy [water] or people were filling up paper cups you get beer in that were on the floor,” he said.
“Some people must have got bottles in because my bag didn’t even get checked. Every person I saw getting their bag checked for a bottle of water get it taken off them or emptied.”
Queues for the bar and for water refill points overlapped, he said, and also claimed that security staff were allowing fans to jump the queue for money.
Other fans on Twitter claimed there was not enough room to safely exit the event and security staff had to break barriers.
talkRADIO has identified the security firm that staffed the event and contacted them for a comment.
Inquiry into lack of bar staff
The Workers Beer Company, which is a trade union initiative that has union members volunteer as bar staff to earn money for their union, said it’s conducting an internal inquiry to find out why 40% of staff didn’t turn up.
“It was unprecedented, it’s never happened before,” said spokesman Steve Pryle.
“We’ve dealt with huge crowds at Finsbury before, we’ve got 33 years of successfully trading.
“We’re having a stewards inquiry to find out what happened as we genuinely don’t know.
“The organisation is owned by the trade unions and we’ll examine what went wrong. We need to understand it.”
No complaints to council
Some punters also tweeted Haringey Council, but the council told talkRADIO they had not received any direct complaints and added there were “sufficient water points for the number of attendees”.
A spokeswoman said: “Additional measures for leaving the park were put in place for Saturday’s event, which went well. We are satisfied with the measures Festival Republic have put in place for Wireless.”
Wireless festival runs from 6-8 July.
On Sunday, another Festival Republic event, Community Festival, took place in Finsbury Park without issue. Mr Pryle said the Workers Beer Company drafted in extra staff.
talkRADIO has approached Festival Republic for a comment and has not as yet received a response.