VAT’s Not Too Bad

Marktrock punters in Belgium didn’t appear to be put out by what could be seen as a hike on the ticket price, apparently thinking it’s worth an extra 10 euros to have some freedom at the festival.

Having fallen foul of the country’s VAT regulations and landing itself with a back-dated euro 60,000 bill in the process, the 24-year-old event in Leuven city center had to re-work its admission policy.

Instead of charging euro 15 each time a fan wants to access the main stage area at Oude Market, there’s now a euro 25 charge that includes readmission.

Previously, anyone who wanted to nip off to catch an act on one of the free stages at Vismarkt, M. De Layensplein and Hogeschoolplein had to cough up another euro 15 to get back to the main square, where most of the international acts are scheduled.

Guido Hoeven, a member of the non-profit organization that runs the festival, said the new system is fairer than charging fans each time they go to the main stage – “like charging a toll each time a car crosses the same bridge.” The Oude Markt was crammed to its 10,000 capacity throughout the second day.

The new system created some extra money that will go toward footing the VAT bill, which needs to be paid over a three-year period.

More than 28,000 visited the main stage August 13-15, which means the event was more than 90 percent of full capacity.

According to Hoeven, all the acts performed so well that it would be wrong to single out highlights. But he said Gavin DeGraw is rapidly becoming a big sex symbol among the young female festivalgoers.

“It was very crowded at the front when he was playing and they didn’t seem to be able to take their eyes off him.” DeGraw received similar attention when he played the U.K.’s V Festivals a couple of days later.

Among the other acts competing for attention were Iggy & The Stooges, Pet Shop Boys, Bloodhound Gang, Bjorn Again, Angie Stone, and Sugababes.

– John Gammon