Colombian events are a step closer to the gas chamber

Alex de Borba

Alex de Borba

It shall seem an awkward statement, yet in truth, Colombian events are not at their highest prime. Even though the strain to render professional events worthy of recognition appears to be yielding, with an increasing yet quite insignificant amount of quality events that indeed, may assure the audiences both their safety and economical comfort. The media press also sees their freedom to collect and publish relevant information regarding these events chuckled while doing searches throughout social channels instead of receiving a detailed press release on hand.

Regardless of the economic stagnation that still overpowers the will to attain proper solutions for affordable estimates while respecting show admissions, not to mention a solid attendance from professionals that may contribute to the exposure of afore-mentioned events while treated in a respectful manner, the need to generate a competitive business between promoters clearly leaves much to desire, this if we dare to compare the prices practised by Colombian promoters to those practised in Europe, or even in the United States.

Pricing continues to be debatable, however throughout the audience that purchases the tickets rather than the promoters that lack the ability to negotiate with the touring managers a more accessible rate that could benefit both parties involved. There is a self-made urban myth that encircles the promoters leading them to justify the pretentious high rates outstanding the distance, localization or even the area in which an event will take place. It is, however, a false pretext to overcharge tickets and comfortably present to the local audience a quality act while obtaining a lower number of attendees often gathered at a theatre lacking security measures, or bearing a higher amount of people surpassing the venue capacity. By no means, the prices practised assure the proper security measures to those willing to attend the shows.

It is questionable, in fact, why prices in Colombia are often higher than nearby countries in South America. And the answer is quite simple: failure to negotiate. As a professional in the field and European, I reached out to acts prior to my contact regarding such matters, had performed before in Colombia. During our negotiations, I often came across outrageous fees and demands coming from their managers and questioned why they were attempting to overcharge so much while elsewhere they wouldn’t. It came as no surprise that often the answer was “our budget is the same we presented in the past to a local promoter and was accepted without any further negotiations.”

Sadly, it is a common practice for acts to have a pre-established budget specifically designed for Colombia due to their previous experiences with local promoters, fees that in most cases are ten times higher than anywhere else. Again, and as a European, I made use of my citizenship to renegotiate the fees and charges while successfully cutting it way in half with just a mere exchange of emails. The benefits of negotiation are visible, as tickets would be less expensive, and the revenue would obtain profit to be used on further events of the genre. The exposure would also benefit from a wider range of attendees and a more professional promotion, as the remaining budget would remain in-house to print posters widely spread throughout the country.

On the other hand, certain venues are predominantly under siege and by this, I am not referring to the metal enthusiasts, but rather to a discriminatory police force that enforces their position even if the contours of the law are bleeding on their knees. It is often threatening when metalheads are subjected to discrimination while the police choose to neglect those that will most likely draw a blade on you on the streets to obtain the profits of your hard labour.

Fierce cancellations and rescheduled events are commonly announced nowadays, either through social networks or media press channels, this in an age that a self-proclaimed righteous society claims to be tolerant when actions speak otherwise. Nevertheless, the incitement toward violence and discrimination empowers and allows argument to fuel those that are there to eventually protect us, too quickly gather their weaponry and discharge on a minority that refuses to remain unconscious to the evident abuse of power.

In which this affects the country is still something open to discussion, as international acts such as the British death metallers Carcass stated some months ago after their performance at Festival Del Diablo, finding a “voice” that can be heard internationally coming from Colombia (with our exception) is like finding a needle in a haste stack. Unfortunately for the Colombian audience that aims to have more international acts playing in the soil, Carcass were one of the first to come out on social networks speaking about the pepper gas spread over the audience in order to “control and restraint” a group of delinquents that forcibly attempted to attend the festival for free. Prior to the Carcass incident which raised nonconformism and discomfort throughout their wide legion of fans worldwide, Kreator show also encountered similar circumstances, in which another group of delinquents successfully managed to attend to the show while the Colombian police, when confronted with their inability to control such situation, forced a local promoter to open the doors to the perpetrators. The result is evident, whence the authorities assure everyone a free ticket to a show, while escorting instead of restraining and impose order, many will soon or later adopt the same strategy at their favour to attend to shows for free, which raises an encompass between those that paid to attend, and those that feel that international acts are not worthy of being respected as they should, neither the organization behind the shows.

In recent events, such as Festival Del Diablo and Kraken anniversary, we witnessed the authorities pepper spraying the audience and causing more chaos than it was actually necessary. It lead the last event to be rescheduled to another occasion, which clearly displays in a more concrete and visible manner that something is indeed, falling apart.

Wherewith do these actions affect the arrival of international acts to Colombia? The promoters’ notoriety in a local metal scene that should not be subject to the strain of the authorities clearly matures affected by a black mantra of defiance, as international acts may in a nearby future, refuse to perform in a country in which they can be target of pepper spraying, this if the authorities do not choose to use other methods of “control” that may cause the death of someone.

It is time in which sobriety should lead promoters to reset and present their audiences a safer environment for enjoyment, change revenues whence those attacked by the authorities are at risk of imminent chaos to their shows, and learn how to negotiate so that everyone can afford to attend the shows, and their favorite acts at a fair rate without ending in a gas chamber.

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