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Posting a reply to: Heaven & Hellfest 2014: Mexican City, Official Road Report
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2014-03-15 3:58 PM (#33358)
Heaven & Hellfest 2014: Mexican City, Official Road Report
Location: Baltimore, MD
Well, my babies. I'm afraid this is the road report that wasn't.
The blog is down right now, so I'll post it all here and transpose it later.
The band and road crew were all set to go. Jay Jay went down early to have a little bit of tourism time, but the rest of us were here in the states, passport and plane tickets in hand. I had purchased my ticket awhile back, and in order to prevent some of the issues that happened on my last trip to South America, I made sure that I was on the same flight as the rest of the road crew/band to avoid any transportation glitches. So for me, that meant taking a 3 hour trip to New York via train
(it's actually enjoyable--not too bad
) in order to meet the boys at the airport and help carry equipment.
The Friday before the show, I received a notification that there were some serious problems running amok in Mexico. Sure enough, in spite of months and months of arduous planning, the promoters were told by the federal government of Mexico that the festival was cancelled. Not "we have concerns you need to address" type of message--simply--"we're shutting you down." They cited a variety of safety reasons, ranging from fire code violations, crowd control concerns, evacuation plans lacking and firework permit issues.
(blame that one on KISS
) The concert promoters AND the mayor of the town of Texacoco responded quickly--they testified to what I believe may have been their version of Congress--stating that all permits were in order, all plans were solid, the venue is home to an annual "Festival of the Horse" that brings bands and 200,000 people--this was a case of discrimination and retaliation against the promoters and mayor. The team had met with govt officials at least 8 times previously to ensure that all codes and permits were met. The cancellation announcement was made on the day that local Mexican crews were scheduled to begin building the stage, tents, etc.
The town has some political views that are more progressive and liberal than some of the larger, more conservative governors. It is one of the reasons why the festival was being planned there apparently. Many governors and mayors didn't want anything to do with the festival, describing heavy metal as "Devil's music" and categorized the fans as "gangs" who would gather to commit various acts of violence. Many of our Mexican SMFs were quick to point out that there is plenty of horrific gang violence being sponsored by the very thugs who shut down the festival, and the bands who played the various large festivals
(including the Horse Festival
) often had acts who glorified cartel violence in their lyrics and politics. There were plenty of other rumors and dialogues about the politics between the promoters and local govt--I won't get into that here. But this should set the stage for you. It was all over the associated press--I'm surprised more folks didn't hear about it.
The festival organizers and mayor defiantly announced that the festival will go on--and the 80,000 plus fans who bought tickets, bus packages, camping permits etc. would not be denied. In response, 300 heavily armed federal police in riot gear were dispatched to the location, surrounded the grounds and locked the gates to prevent the local crews from setting up the festival. Students protested in the streets along with many of the Mexican fans who had endured difficult journeys to make their way into the City. The promoters assured the fans
) that a new location would be secured--there were private, secret meetings happening between the promoters and some political figures in nearby towns, who were happy to have throngs of fans eager to spend money in their hotels, restaurants, concessions, etc. But the fear was that if the federal government knew where....the police would come and shut it down. Through social media sites, fans spread the word that a new location was coming, and that once it was announced, fans needed to get there quickly so that if another 300 riot police arrived, they would be no match for a crowd of over 80K and the festival would still go on.
But then...the heartbreak began. Through radio stations--official and underground--and twitter and facebook pages set up specifically for concert announcements--each hour another teaser. They would announce that the new location would be disclosed in 2 hours: only to be told...no. not now. please wait. be patient. A new location had been identified and was being mobilized. This happened hour after hour, day after day. I checked in with my peeps--I was told that all systems were go--be at the airport at the designated time--but that conditions in Mexico were still very unstable and that things could change any minute. The social media sites from Mexico
(I spent hours and hours using google translators and the kind services of S.M.F. April
) from Argentina
) were just heartbreaking. They told tales of fans making their way to town, planning to camp at the site, and being turned into the city with nowhere to go. Fans who had saved money for months for this--some had waited their entire lives to see Twisted Sister, KISS, Guns n' Roses--this was a HUGE event. The Mexican fans are as passionate about metal as their European and South American counterparts--you could truly feel the desperation and heartache. Dee posted several videos via the facebook pages to keep the fans encouraged--saying, Twisted Sister is coming! And he even sang a few bars of "We're Not Gonna Take It" in Spanish.
It was Thursday, March 13th--the day that my train was scheduled to leave for the airport--my marching orders were to stage at a hotel outside of the airport that evening and meet the crew in the wee hours of Friday. I was nervous but ready, my babies. My bag was packed with only the bare essentials. I had read up on Aduana
) protocols and regulations, studied some basic Spanish phrases
(including: I need to speak with the American Embassy now please
), registered my travel with the Dept of State/Mexican Embassy and had my immigration paperwork all in order. And to be honest, I updated my emergency documents a few days prior, so that if something dreadful had transpired, my family had an emergency plan in place to take care of my affairs. I had been following the twitter and facebook sites until the early a.m. hours, and fans were reporting that tour companies who had arranged package deals were canceling and there were dreaded rumors that the federal government was planning to stop any incoming bands and crews at the airport--if they couldn't stop the show on the ground, they would keep the bands from arriving. I never did get this piece confirmed--but it was a rumor that made me very uneasy.
I prepared to leave the house--gave the cats a big hug, my bag was sitting by the front door. Twisted Sister laminate and passport in my pouch tucked safely away against my chest. Just an hour before departing for the train, I get the notification. The entire festival is cancelled. So I scrambled to cancel my hotel, train and air ticket as quickly as possible. The financial sting from the cancellation fees couldn't hold a candle to the pain I felt inside, Not only was it the disappointment of the festival being cancelled, but I felt the pain and anguish of all of these fans who may never get to see any of their bands in their lifetime. While I have the precious luxury of being able to travel, for the SMFs in Mexico, that is not likely the case. And personally, Twisted Sister and the Road Crew are my family. The love I feel for them is deeper than I feel for many people who claim to be my relatives. I get to see my Twisted family, on average, 8 to 10 times a year, and so now...this meant once less time to see my family.
That day, I did the walk of shame into work. While my co-workers normally enjoy teasing me, giving me a hard time--not so on this day. News spread that I was in the office--the concert had fallen through--and I had a stream of folks, trying to console me. Still clinging to some remote possibility, I streamed the press conference live at my office computer, only to hear the words that the festival was cancelled. officially.
These types of things do happen--and have happened before to Twisted Sister--but I have NEVER in all my years seen anything like this. I'm still a bit shocked--my bag hasn't moved--it's still packed, sitting by the door. Crew credentials and passport neatly stacked on top, along with the birthday card I had planned to slip to Dee today. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. today--it was almost as if my body was still in "tour mode" and my brain still believed we were going to have our 6 a.m. lobby call for sound check.
My heart goes out to all of the beautiful, loyal and passionate fans of Mexico who wanted nothing more than two days of glorious heavy metal brotherhood with their favorite bands.
And so my babies, this evening, instead of celebrating the 2014 Tour kickoff and Dee's birthday with my brethren of the band and crew, it will be a quiet one instead. The chocolate bar I now bring with me in order to battle "concert drop" in the airport for the return flight home--shall be my midnight treat tonight. Let us never take for granted the freedoms that many of us enjoy in our respective countries.
See you in May, my babies, when Twisted Sister returns to the Tri-state area for a fantastic night of music at The Starland Ballroom. Until then...
Edited by Armadillo 2014-03-15 4:05 PM
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