Zagreb Trouble

The Croatian market looks to have collapsed in just the way InMusic Festival promoter Zoran Maric predicted, as poor ticket sales have led to three shows being downgraded in a week.

First casualty was the June 5th Zucchero show at the 7,000-capacity Salata, which was promoted by Vlado Ivankovic of Lupa. It was shifted 180 miles to the coastal city of Zadar and became a free-entry event sponsored by the local council.

The week had begun on the wrong foot when a May 31st Gipsy Kings show promoted by the state-funded Koncertna Direkcija fell short of 4,000 in Zagreb’s 9,000-capacity Dom Sportova.

It got worse as the June 3rd INXS show at Dom Sportova, promoted by Hrvoje Hum of Nota, was switched to the 1,200-capacity Club Boogaloo.

And the June 7th Dream Theater show at the 15,000-capacity open-air site at Jarun, an artificial lake on the edge of the city, was dropped to Dom Sportova’s 4,000-capacity room. That was also promoted by Lupa.

A May 21 show for Vanessa Mae and a May 30th show for Juliette & The Licks were canceled much earlier, but it’s not known if the cancellations were connected to poor ticket sales.

Much as Maric predicted, the market looks to be echoing the disasters of 2004, when the Croatian capital had more international acts than the ticket-buying public could support.

He feels Austrian promoters such as Richard Hoermann and Wolfgang Klinger are largely responsible for overloading the market, pointing out that "Croatian promoters don’t have other markets where they can fix what they’re losing here."

Although neither Hoermann nor Klinger appear to be promoting directly, they’re supplying the acts for Lupa and Nota respectively.

Ivankovic and Hum, the two local company chiefs, both worked for Marijan Crnaric of Viny. Crnaric is a former partner of both Hoermann and Klinger and was in the middle of the 2004 disasters.

That summer, within the space of one month, Lenny Kravitz, Pink and Metallica had their 25,000-capacity shows at Zagreb Gradski Stadium downgraded and later canceled altogether. Live Nation’s Santana show, originally booked for the same venue, switched to Dom Sportova’s 9,000-capacity room.

The year 2007 could easily have turned out worse if ZZ Top hadn’t had to cancel through illness and the city of Zagreb had made a successful bid to get a date on the Rolling Stones’ rescheduled Bigger Bang tour.

As it is, Harry Jenner of MusicNet – another Austrian promoter – will launch his new Radar Festival in Zagreb on June 20 and, a few days later, the northern city of Koprivnica has Drava Rock Festival.

Although ZZ Top was forced to cancel, Drava will go on with The Cult, Il Nino and the Scorpions.

Jenner is quietly confident that early sales show Radar, which has Placebo, Kaiser Chiefs and Queens of The Stone Age, won’t be sucked into the market implosion.

"I’m pretty sure Radar will work," he told Pollstar. "We have a good presale and very strong promotion."

He doesn’t believe people are still "scared to buy tickets" as they were in 2004, when the police had to be called to protect box office staff from Metallica ticket holders trying to get refunds from Crnaric.

Maric said he feels safer moving the InMusic Festival he started last year from early July to the end of August, thereby hoping to avoid the effect of the midsummer logjam.

He’s just announced Iggy & The Stooges, Sonic Youth and New York Dolls, the first of the eight international acts the August 27-28 city centre outdoor hopes to book.

The international acts visiting Croatia in early July include Type O Negative, Korn and Robert Plant.