Amnesia Rockfest Becomes "Organizational Shit Show"

Amnesia Rockfest Becomes "Organizational Shit Show"
Photo: Tracey Lindeman
In our review of this weekend's Amnesia Rockfest, Exclaim! contributor Tracey Lindeman described the event as an "organizational shit show." She's not alone in her complaints, since the punk/hard rock-oriented festival has attracted a wave of criticism from concertgoers and local residents alike.

So what exactly went wrong? Well, evidently more than 100,000 people attended the event in the small town of Montebello, QC, and critics are saying that the organizers weren't equipped to deal with the volume of people who showed up to watch bands like Rise Against, the Offspring, Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, Social Distortion, Deftones, Rancid, Lamb of God and Anthrax, among others.

The problems noted by Exclaim!'s reviewer included: an understaffed box office with a three-hour wait at the front entrance; overflowing portable toilets that weren't cleaned up; no announcement that bands like Bad Brains and Cro-Mags had been cancelled; garbage that wasn't tidied; not allowing outside water and then running out of water on-site; an inefficient shuttle system to parking lots and campsites that were several kilometres off-site; band delays; and overfilled campsites that resulted in folks with reservations being turned away.

Nicole Laflamme, a member of the local municipal council told the Ottawa Citizen, "Right now, our town looks more like a garbage can."

She went on to describe the toilet situation as "an ocean of pee on the ground."

The bands evidently weren't any happier, since Mighty Mighty Bosstones bassist Joe Gittleman said this after the band's main stage slot was bumped: "We essentially just found our own slot on the side stage. We went over there and talked to the guy who was running that stage. When we realized our set time was going to come and go, we kind of just took it upon ourselves to figure it out." Making matters worse, the band wasn't given a dressing room.

Gittleman did add, however, "What we experienced was a bunch of really nice people who I think had the best of intentions to put on a festival. I think the festival is bigger than they were ultimately maybe ready to handle."

Montebello's mayor, Pierre Bertrand, also told the newspaper, "Overall, I think it's a very good event."

As disastrous as the event seems to have been, it may still go ahead in 2014, since organizer Alex Martel's contract for use of the grounds continues through next year.

A petition calling on organizers to improve the festival has gathered more than 400 signatures on website Avaaz.org as of press time.