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Metrofest promoters hit back at criticism of their first event, including from a headliner

By | Published on Wednesday 11 August 2021

Organisers of a new music festival in London which staged its first edition last weekend have hit back at criticism made about the event by one of its headliners, Blackstreet, who were among a number of acts to bail on the festival at the last minute.

There was a flurry of criticism on social media about the retro hip hop and R&B centric Metrofest as the event took place last weekend. Some complained that the festival opened the gates at its North London site later than advertised and that, as a result, stages were running behind schedule all day. Others criticised general bad organisation and customer communications.

Though a lot of the criticism centred on changes to the line-up, with four of eight advertised headliners not performing. Eve had cancelled her performance at the event earlier in the week, meanwhile – on the day – Blackstreet, Mya and Tony Touch all seemingly failed to turn up. Fatman Scoop, who had been billed as MC for the proceedings, didn’t arrive on stage until 7pm, and a Bobby V set was only ten minutes long.

Responding to one critical ticket-buyer on social media, Fatman Scoop stated: “What you DONT KNOW is how bad it was for the artists. I did not show up at 7pm FOR NO REASON. Trust me, you guys have NO IDEA what happened on the other side of this”.

For Blackstreet and Mya, it seems that there were problems around the COVID tests that were required, both to perform and for the artists to subsequently return to the US. In their own social media posts, Blackstreet reportedly said Metrofest organisers were “terribly disorganised” and had “refused to give us our COVID test results to go back to the States”.

In an official statement overnight, the event’s promoters denied those claims, although did acknowledge the logistical issues on site that led to the festival running behind schedule and the cutting short of Bobby V’s set.

“Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, Blackstreet and Mya, who were scheduled to appear on the main stage, refused to perform at Metrofest for their loyal fans who bought tickets for the event”, the official statement reads. “It is also very disappointing that Blackstreet have since released an eighteen minute video on their social media accounts, containing false accusations in an attempt to shift the blame onto the Metrofest team”.

“Blackstreet and Mya were fully paid for their set at the festival but refused to leave their hotel, citing that their [COVID] test results were unavailable”, it continues. “We can categorically confirm that the documentation was sent to both artists. This is part of the same documentation provided by us for them to gain entry into the UK. We have fulfilled all of our contractual obligations and completely refute the false allegations in the video. We are appalled by this unprofessional behaviour which in turn resulted in a string of hold-ups”.

“To be clear, Metrofest has copies of all of the artist’s test results in compliance with UK government regulations, which were arranged and paid for privately by our team”, the statement adds. “All artists were emailed their results. The Metrofest team worked tirelessly to deliver this festival to the public in 2021, after our initial debut event was postponed by a year due to COVID regulations”.

All these factors, organisers then say, along with “unseasonal weather”, “unforeseen artist travel logistics” and the need to comply with Transport For London regulations around the site, “affected traffic and delayed performers appearing as scheduled for the festival. Metrofest sincerely apologises for the show’s late-running, which led to Bobby V’s set time being cut short”.

Regarding separate criticisms that some ticket-holders couldn’t get onto the festival site, the statement continues: “To address the situation surrounding ticket holders that were refused entry due to late arrival, unfortunately, ticket holders were not allowed entrance after 5pm due to our licence. This was communicated in our T&C’s to ticket holders in advance”.

Nevertheless, because of the various issues, “we obtained authorisation and closed the doors at 6pm, giving everyone an extra hour”.

Concluding, the statement says: “A special thanks to the artists that joined us across all Metrofest stages, and a special thank you to our international artists who travelled to the UK and adhered to the correct protocols: Bobby V, Jon B, Horace Brown, Fatman Scoop and our headliner Fat Joe, who performed in the UK for the very first time. Metrofest wants to thank all fans who attended our first event”.