For years now, there’s been gossip that an official Brazilian version of the world-famed festival Wacken Open Air would occur in the country. Diverging information always emerged in the “Brazilian Metal Press” (comprised of two Magazines and a web-site to be more succinct, the others are just blogs and whatnot) during the years. But nothing ever happened.
Brazil has a reputation for having some of the most savage metal fans in the world, and I won’t deny that, since I’m one of them. However, we never had anything to do with Europe and its biggest Summer Festivals. Okay, we have Rock in Rio (which could be called POP IN RIO, with artists such as Rihana, Stevie Wonder and Bryan Adams slated on the bill), and we had something near a big festival in 1990’s with some great metal bands in the world but since the international companies retreated from sponsorship, it became history.
Then, out of the blue, a new rumour came this year… that a bigger festival with some of the biggest names of metal would occur in this country, maybe something as big as Wacken itself. Imagine, just imagine a festival with Megadeth, Anthrax , Blind Guardian, Grave Digger, Venom, Saxon, Dio Disciples, Symphony X, U.D.O., Obituary, Exodus, Orphaned Land, Exciter, Destruction, OTEP, Legion of the Damned, Fear Factory, Anvil, Annihilator just to name the international bands, plus bands from all over the country such as Ratos de Porão, Headhunter D.C., Torture Squad, Unearthly, Korzus, Hangar, Almah and Stress (the very first Brazilian heavy metal band), just to cite few names… It was just the BIGGEST Festival that would ever happen in the whole history of Latin America!
Called Metal Open Air (M.O.A. in short) it coveted headbangers from all across the country. It became the mission of every metalhead to go and see this legit Metal Fest!
But as nothing in this world is utterly perfect, the festival was slated to happen in São Luis, the capital of the state of Maranhão and let’s be straightforward, nobody gives two fucks about that place, because it’s far, far away from the big centres.
If you’re not aware here’s a rapid lesson about Brazilian geography: the greatest cultural and industrial centres, where the metal shows happen, are in the South of the country in states like São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul (near Uruguay), Paraná and Santa Catarina. Rarely does an international band go to the North and Northwest of the country, the poorest places in Brazil (Where São Luis is located).
So why the fuck not make this gig in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, where it’d be logistically easier for bands and fans to go? The organisers, the at first unknown Lamparina Produções and Negri Concerts alleged that the fans in North/Northwest are die-hards (which they actually are) and they deserved to have this milestone located in their place since they always got neglected by producers and promoters and having nothing there (which they actually do).
Then, where does Metal as Fuck enter in this history? I wanted so hard to go to this metallic Shangri-la. Being a contributor of MaF I thought, why not put the site there, in a good position, where photos could be taken and interviews could be done? I entered in contact with Scott Adams, and he gave me carte-blanche to pursue a spot for Metal as Fuck in the event. Days after, Scott started to receive e-mails in Portuguese. What kind of festival that intendeds to be one of the greatest in the history would send e-mail in Portuguese to an Australian-based site? What kind of professionalism was that? So the great promoters of metal in the history of Brazil didn’t know how to send a proper e-mail in English? Time passed, and due to personal reasons which prevented me to go, I decided to let it be… Anyway Juliana Negri (from Negri Concerts) sent an e-mail saying our request was a “reject” due to “the greatest amount of requests from press”. (The e-mail dates from 3 April, and the festival would occur on 20, 21 and 22 of the same month).
Time passed and on 19th April, news started to emerge on FB where I have some profiles of members of Brazilian bands, that some of them (more outstandingly, Unearthly) where jumping off the festival. It was the harbinger of the fiasco of the coming weekend.
Curious, I went on to know more about the cancellations and amidst the rumours here and there, I discovered the bands (at least the Brazilian ones) hadn’t even received the airline tickets to travel to São Luis, and Hangar (from São Paulo) was “parked” in a Northeastern State waiting for some reply, without money and saying in the press they hadn’t received the fee to play the festival. Researching I found that it was exactly the case with the other Brazilian bands and maybe with some international acts.
Some promoters/managers in Brazil are well known in the scene for getting the money from bands, and fans and running away with their brazen faces. I know I fell victim of them twice, first at a Watain gig where I paid to see the concert and I didn’t see it (neither the money), and when my band signed up a contract with a “PR” for some gigs that never happened!
So, I knew the chaos was unavoidable. On Friday and Saturday the internet (Facebook) was teeming with confusing information about bands jumping out and then it was that the mainstream media (which never cared about metal) started to report about the festival , saying Venom and Saxon also jumped out.
Still some bands played, such as Anvil and Megadeth. Dave Mustaine said they played only for the fans. Anthrax was in the city and cancelled their performance leaving fans in desperation. A TV news report was broadcast, with a girl saying: “Anthrax won’t play! Blind Guardian is in the city, Blind Guardian won’t play!!! They should at least make an acoustic (performance)
Then everybody else started to jump out, and I, open-mouthed, was seeing (and imagining) through my computer screen the situation… PROCON (the Brazilian counterpart of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and American FTC) jumped in, to investigate what was going on.
Articles started to appear telling stories of fans who were in their so called “camping place” with only ONE BATHROOM, and no infrastructure at all. There was no security in the place. Other fortunate souls booked hotels to stay in.
The sound was even turned off, because of lack of payment and producers alleged “lack of liquidity” to try to justify why they didn’t have money to make a festival that big. Felipe Negri (from Negri Concerts) even diplomatically stated on twitter for people to GO FUCK THEMSELVES. What a great professional!
He tried to escape from the city and a video of him was captured at the airport by fans swearing him. Words like thief, son of a bitch, were the softer things thrown at him.
By Sunday the festival was cancelled and the fiasco was declared. Aquiles Priester (Hangar, ex-Angra) stated in an internet media outlet that “we (Brazilians) have the greatest chances to become a worldwide joke”. My fears about this statement were confirmed when Scott Adams himself sent a message saying: “M.O.A.- a complete fiasco”
By the time, the indignation was nation-wide, since bangers from every corner of Brazil were there in São Luis, with no information about it was going on and bangers that were not there, but were following all from internet, were uttering words of protest demanding the heads of the organisers!
After the fiasco, and accusations changed between the (dis)organizers, Negri productions was even deadpan enough to post that they were doing other events!
Brazil is a well-known country for its impunity towards people who steal, scam and do other illicit activities, so I know nothing will happen to those who deceived thousands of people there in loco, and gave a slap right in the face of credibility of Brazilian Metal in general.
But they revealed the sad reality of a country known for one of the greatest underground scenes in the world in 1980’s turning into a country whose bands beg for attention and some even pay to have their names on the bill…. a country where scammers defraud the good faith of bands that dream of an easy-way to get stardom, and of people who just want to have decent fun with their favourite bands. Brazil is where that saying is more than a truth: HELL IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS, and where, probably, the good ol' Bon Scott inspired himself to sing his famous line: it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n roll.