Masters Of Rock Stay Silent

The promoter of the Czech Republic’s biggest outdoor rock festival is staying silent about why it has dropped the country’s leading ticketing agency, but the reason behind the move looks to be that they knew they would never get their hands on most of the box office take.

Pragokoncerts isn’t answering Pollstar questions about why Ticketpro, which has about 70 percent of the local market, isn’t being used as an agent for this year’s Masters of Rock July 13-16. But the fact it owes it about US$150,000 might have something to do with it.

Ticketpro owner Serge Grimaux said he would’ve had no hesitation in seizing what his company’s owed if he had the chance to sell Masters of Rock tickets. He’s convinced that’s why he hasn’t been allocated any.

The money is outstanding from last year’s disastrous Prague pre-premier warmup for Michael Flatley’s new Celtic Tiger show at the smaller (25,000-capacity) of the two Strahov stadiums. The act canceled at the last minute, claiming Pragokoncert and co-promoter JVJ Produkce failed to deliver the tech spec.

Crew members refused to continue loading the overhead trusses when it became obvious they had nowhere near enough load-bearing capacity to carry the production’s giant screens.

One crew member said hanging nearly 30 tons on the structure would have been extremely dangerous, particularly for Flatley and the 45 dancers performing underneath it.

An eye witness said the structure shifted 18 inches and creaked as the riggers tried to hoist a huge backdrop screen.

The upshot was that Pragokoncert chief Jiri Daron and JVJ put out a statement through the national Tiscali Zabava newspaper saying the show had to be canceled for technical reasons and promised a ticket refund when their deposit was returned.

A week later, they changed their story completely and said the cancellation was due to Flatley pulling out “without any well-founded reason.”

As Daron was claiming he’d called in Interpol to investigate the matter, and would himself be taking legal action against Flatley, the country’s leading ticketing companies were faced with almost 8,000 refund demands.

Ticketpro, Ticketstream, Ticketart and Ticketportal had all advanced money to Pragokoncerts-JVJ, although the last two named soon had their cash returned when the show was canceled.

Ticketstream refused to make refunds until the promoters returned the money it had advanced, while Ticketpro – which had sold an estimated 70 percent of the gate – refunded all its customers immediately at a cost of about 3 million Czech koruny (about US$136,000).

“We made a mistake and so we’re going to have to pay for it,” Ticketpro managing director Vera Kunratkova said at the time.

“Trusting the promoters, we paid out ticket takings to them and I believe they may have then been used as a deposit to the artist. Whatever the outcome of the dispute between the promoters and Michael Flatley, Ticketpro has been unable to keep the contract we made with our customers when they gave us the money for the ticket.

“We have a duty to those customers and we’ll be putting the matter right immediately,” she added.

Daron, who said the Interpol investigation would be a “big international issue,” is also ignoring questions about the progress it’s making.

Unicorn Entertainment, Flatley’s management company, said it hasn’t received any notice of action from Pragokoncerts’ lawyers.

This year’s Monsters of Rock, which is on a 20,000-capacity site at Vizovice, has expanded from three to four days and will include performances from Whitesnake, Apocalyptica, The Gathering, Helloween, Within Temptation, Edguy, Kreator, and Gamma Ray.

– John Gammon