South African music fans are reeling from news that Virgin Mobile South Africa has pulled the plug on the country’s inaugural Virgin Festival.
The announcement was made by CEO of Virgin Mobile South Africa Peter Boyd, via a statement that said the decision had been taken over dissatisfaction with the international line-up available for the event. The festival will be rescheduled for early 2009.
The event was due to be held in Johannesburg Dec. 13 and Cape Town Dec. 16. Promoter Big Concerts was expecting it to draw an audience of 60,000 across both cities.
“Our criteria for a successful Virgin Festival are a great greenfield venue, an impressive and eclectic international line-up, a huge local line-up, the Road to V bringing local unsigned bands into the mix, and some quirky brand activations for the crowd from Virgin. Four out of five of these are on track, but we’re not entirely satisfied with the international line-up,” said the statement from Boyd. “Some of the bands that South Africans kept asking for were simply not available at that time of the year.”
The international line-up had included Snoop Dogg, Sugababes, Eddy Grant, One Republic and Maroon 5, although it is not clear if any of these acts had become unavailable. One Republic and Maroon 5 will perform at three concerts in December that will additionally be used to showcase the South African act that wins the Road To V competition that has been running since early October.
“Changes have been made to Virgin Festival by Virgin Mobile in order to ensure an even hotter line-up, and one that will make South Africans proud,” Boyd said. Organizers wanted a bill that would compare favourably with other Virgin festivals in the U.K., U.S., Canada and Australia.
The scaled down Road To V shows will take place on Dec. 13 in Johannesburg, Dec. 14 in Durban and Dec. 16 in Cape Town. Local acts lined-up for the original Virgin Festival by Virgin Mobile, including The Parlotones and Goldfish, will also perform. The promoter will again be Cape Town-based Big Concerts.
“South Africans have also been hit hard by the economic downswing which may have affected early ticket sales – and what with the rand declining so rapidly over the past week, bringing any big name act into the country is going to be a real challenge,” an industry insider told Billboard.biz.
Ticket-holders can either get a refund, use the ticket for next year’s festival or attend a Road To V show and obtain a partial refund.