Rewind Festival – what really happened?

Rewind Festival was set to be the biggest music event hosted in Wollongong in decades; but as we see this morning, the organisers have made the decision to uproot the festival from its purpose-built site at Bluescope Field, Kembla Grange, and move it to Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion venue (click here for our original news post on the announcement).

Of course, festival organisers have blamed “weather conditions” on the festival’s move. However, this begs the question; is this the REAL reason for moving it from Wollongong? As anyone who has ever been to a camping festival will attest, mud, rain and weather conditions are all part of the deal. If you go to Splendour In The Grass, Meredith Music Festival or the Byron Bay Blues & Roots Festival, you’d feel almost cheated if you didn’t find yourself knee-deep in mud.

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What’s more likely? That ticket sales were poor, that artists had pulled out or been improperly contracted, and that the festival was losing money.

The Illawarra Mercury reports today that “Rewind had been battling to attract corporate sponsorship from Sydney, with some fearing the concept was unproven,” while ticket sales for the event have been rumoured to be well below what was expected by organisers. As well, the festival’s biggest drawcards and headliners – Kool & The Gang, The Human League, Sister Sledge – will not feature on the new “condensed” lineup, which hints that Rewind felt they did not have enough cash to bring these acts to Australia.

Some fans have taken to the Facebook of the UK-based “80s Rewind Festival” (which the Australian version was based on) to express their anger; however, 80s Rewind stated that ” We are not happy about it either; Rewind in Australia is not the same organisation as in England and Scotland.” They also said that “The artists have not pulled out, they have been cancelled by the Australian promoter.”

In another piece of interesting news, the Human League have actually posted a series of updates on Facebook expressing their anger and disappointment at the cancellation of their appearance on Rewind; a cancellation, they say, they were not advised of until hours ago.

“Sorry to say that it is indeed true we will not be playing at the Rewind Festival in Australia as we planned,” the band posted on Facebook.

“However please be assured that this decision was NOTHING to do with us, we were only informed of it ourselves about eighteen hours ago and we’ve just woken up in Hong Kong to find our non appearance has been unilaterally announced without our knowledge or consent.”

The band then went on to say that their work visas – which they say were supposed to be organised by the festival promoters – had not even been applied for yet.

“The promoter of Rewind was supposed to arrange all our Australian work permits and we are now aware that he hasn’t even applied for them yet but it is far too late for us to make alternative arrangements… Please be assured we are every bit as disapointed and angry about this turn of events as you are.”

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Despite much anger from local residents, and from people who had booked non-refundable accommodation in Wollongong, on the Rewind Festival Facebook page, promoters have said that no refunds will be offered except for camping passes.

“We have looked at the refund policys and its quite clear that refunds will only be given in the event of cancellation or postponment, this is not the case the event is going ahead,” they posted this afternoon.

However, with the festival’s three biggest acts dropping out, and the event being scaled-back from a three-day camping festival to a two-day indoor concert, many are saying that refunds should be offered to those who want them.

“People booked for a outdoor festival, and now one clearly doesnt exist, ” one commenter said. “People wont go and deserve money back.”

“The event you are now offering is NOT the event we paid for. How does two days in a dull concert venue equate to a 3 day outdoor festival?” asked another.

Some have brought up the case of the recent Soundwave Revolution festival, which was scaled-back and saw a venue change after several big-name acts pulled out; this was an almost identical situation to Rewind, yet Soundwave gladly and apologetically offered refunds for those who wanted them, and issued new (cheaper) tickets to the new event for those who still wanted to attend.

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Sadly, yet another festival has failed in Wollongong. While we may never know the exact reasons for the move to Sydney, many have cited poor ticket sales, poor promotion and poor organisation (see the Human League work permit example above) as the main factors. Fans are justified in being angry, as the event no longer resembles the one that they paid for; headliners dropping out, change of venue and a complete change of format.

If you have been affected by the Rewind move, please email radar.illawarra@gmail.com with any comments you have. We would like to hear what local residents, and festival ticket-holders, think of this move.

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5 Responses to Rewind Festival – what really happened?

  1. yvonne walker says:

    Good wrap-up…. except sister sledge one of the top 3 acts? hardly. Who they dropped was the least compelling part of ur argument.. human league headliners yes, the others no. however I am enormously disappointed abt the change and feel the organisers are complete scammers. From the fact the ticket prices went up $20 between the first ad and the sale date… I should have realised then…

    • Josh Butler says:

      Kool & The Gang, Human League & Sister Sledge were all at the top of the bill in the original announcements.

  2. Mick Oliver says:

    Dont forget these supposed ligitimate and professional promoters have replied with short emails telling people to wait a bit till the ticket value increases as the venue is now smaller, and scalp your tickets to get money back and even maby get a p[rofit on them.
    Is that even legal, dubious at best…. as today unfolded and tit bits of information is revealed, and we think back over the way this shambles has been poorly run from the getgo, i smell what has turned into a money grabbing scam to save themselves… even when moshtix started giving refunds, these Rewind people were fast onto them to halt that activity, desperate to keep their hands on their ill-gotten money.
    I’d bet my Taylor Swift tickets there wont be any kind of concert at Hordern now either. They’ll try to cut their losses and run

  3. maureen dollin says:

    most definetley dissappointed, we paid for goods that are no longer being delivered, not just the above headline acts, but the themed bars, silent disco’s, kareoke & much more, therefore refunds should most definetley be offered, here’s hoping shane wakes up today with a conscience & does the right thing by the fans, although i fear it is highly unlikely

  4. James Pascoe says:

    Even thought I was really looking forward to the great outdoors and camping I could have reluctantly accepted the move had the original line up remained.
    However once I started seeing the detail come through about the stuff up with Human Leagues visas etc. I started to realise we are dealing with a bunch of cowboys and questioned what sort of event would we be left with.
    Give people the option for a refund, they will still sell tickets to a new audience in Sydney who’s expectations of an outdoor festival didn’t exist.

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