Playcool Fakes ‘Woodstock’

The festival billed as “the Romanian Woodstock” isn’t going to happen and early reports suggest it was never more than a scam to cheat fans out of their money.

The two-day event was first advertised April 5 and included Aussie rockers AC/DC, arousing the interest of national promoters who had been told the act wouldn’t play the country this year because Bucharest doesn’t have a suitable venue.

The festival organiser was a new company called Playcool SRL, a company set up March 16 with one shareholder and founding capital of 200 Lei (about $63). Playcool has since postponed the event and taken down its Web site,

Guido Janssens of Emag!c, which promotes the three-year-old B’Estfest in Bucharest (July 1-5), was alarmed to check the festival’s Web site and discover it was asking fans to vote for the acts they wanted to see. It printed a list that included Pink Floyd, U2 and AC/DC.

“Most of the acts on the list are either not touring, no longer existing or not playing festivals,” he said in a blog posted on the B’estfest Web site April 15.

Janssens is bemused that the national media never questioned the event, preferring to trumpet Bucharest Rock Arena – which was scheduled for May 30-31 – as “the biggest festival in Romania ever” and claiming that “Romania finally has its own Woodstock.”

“Shouldn’t some journalistic alarm bells started ringing?” Janssens wrote in his B’Estfest blog, questioning Playcool’s boastings.

Janssens, who’d been trying to book AC/DC in Romania for several months, preferred to believe Chris Dalston from CAA – the act’s U.S.-based agent – who had assured him the band couldn’t visit Romania in 2009.

By April 6, journalists started telling Emag!c that U2 will be coming, AC/DC is 100 percent confirmed and Guns N’ Roses could also be on the bill. Dalston continued to confirm AC/DC wouldn’t be coming to Romania and that he knew nothing of Playcool’s festival.

When he returned from spending the Easter break in his native Belgium, Janssens felt compelled to do something, as the festival was on sale and had already shifted tickets worth 1 million lei ($315,000).

He contacted Ticketpoint – which sold most of the tickets – and rival promoter Cristi Busuioc of One Events, who had been appointed to book the local acts that would support the international headliners.

Jannsens also feels Playcool had been cunning to go on sale over Easter, when everybody in the West is on holiday and can’t do much about stopping the scam.

Ticketpoint agreed it shouldn’t advance money to Playcool and Busuioc checked with Dalston before accepting that he had been strung along.

Busuioc released a statement on Realitatea, the Romanian news television network, and said he’s now considering suing his former partners at Playcool. Ticketpoint says all ticket buyers will get their money back.

Playcool released a statement in response claiming the festival is postponed, although it looks unlikely the company would try a similar setup this year.

A note posted on the AC/DC Web site April 14 said: “Promoters in Bucharest, Romania, have been falsely advertising AC/DC as the headliner for their two-day Bucharest Rock Arena festival happening on May 30 and 31, 2009.”

It recommended fans visit’s tickets page for a list of all confirmed concerts.