Langford Sweet On Coke Fest

Although last-minute cancellations from U.S. rock acts Bullet For My Valentine and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus hurt ticket sales in the week leading up to Coca-Cola Zero Fest, Big Concerts’ chief ops officer John Langford believes the soft drinks manufacturer is having a positive effect on the South African outdoor market.

Despite the cancellations, which were both announced just days before the events, 25,000 turned up for the Johannesburg leg April 10. The Cape Town leg, three days later at Lourensford Wine Estate, attracted a sold-out crowd of 12,000.

Big Concerts offered refunds to anyone intent on seeing the two U.S. acts, but Langford said very few fans did so.

The twinned festival, now in its fourth year, has been renamed Coke Zero – instead of MyCokeFest – as the sponsorship money is now coming from the sugar-free brand.

Big Concerts chief Attie van Wyk, whose company is in protracted negotiations to become part of Live Nation, was scathing in his criticism of the acts that pulled out.

“Not only have they reneged on their agreements with us, but they have let their South African fans down in the biggest possible manner,” he said in a company statement dated April 8. “And all at the last minute; leaving us in an unfortunate position of not being able to find suitable replacements at such short notice. Although the show must go on, we will certainly not be working with them again.”

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus cited scheduling conflicts for the decision, while Bullet For My Valentine blamed studio commitments.

The bill included Oasis, Snow Patrol and Panic! At The Disco, which all played extended sets, plus local South African bands such as One Day Remains, Foto Na Dans, Dirty Skirts, Cassette, and Zebra And Giraffe.

All equipment was supplied by the local Gearhouse office, which made the whole event a South African production.

Big Concerts is organising entertainment around Indian Premier League cricket, which has been switched from its own country because of political unrest.

Snow Patrol played the Gala Dinner and the grand opening at Newlands Cricket Stadium April 18, which went live to a worldwide TV audience of more than 600 million.

Eddy Grant will perform at the semi-finals and the final at the end of May.

The IPL, which lasts until May 24, is estimated to bring in about 1 billion rand ($109.6 million) to the South African economy.