Like around 40,000 other fans of The Weeknd, Christine Turcot was expecting to catch the pop star’s tour opening concert at Rogers Center last Friday. She had bought a business class seat for the journey from Quebec City and reserved a hotel room in downtown Toronto for two nights. The music fanatic, who describes herself as a “hardcore weekend fan,” spent almost $3,000 on two front-row tickets with access to the VIP lounge.
“If I have a band or an artist that I really love, I go all out,” Turcot told The Globe and Mail. Now she wants her ticket money back.
Unfortunately, The Weeknd’s hometown concert – the first of his much-anticipated After Hours Til Dawn tour – was canceled at the last minute due to widespread Rogers network outages that day. The tour is scheduled to open in Philadelphia on Thursday.
“I don’t blame Weeknd for the postponement,” says Turcot. “I blame Rogers.”
Of course she is not alone. The disruption to the telecom giant’s internet and mobile service sparked outrage and chaos among businesses and individuals across the country. At Rogers Center — the domed stadium that bears the company’s name and colors — the network outage impacted the venue’s critical operations, including security, point-of-sale functions and ticket processing.
The promoter of the concert, Live Nation, said it was impossible to even open the doors to the venue.
Since the concert venues have different network infrastructure, other shows could take place that evening as planned. Country musician Keith Urban and rock legend Roger Waters performed at the Budweiser Stage and Scotiabank Arena, respectively. Both concerts were sponsored by Live Nation.
According to a spokesman for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns and operates Scotiabank Arena, Rogers’ network outage primarily impacted fans’ ability to access their mobile tickets. The venue provided free on-site WiFi as a solution, and the performance was rescheduled to accommodate ticket holders who were late through the gates.
The postponed Weeknd concert is another in a long line of troubles that have plagued born artist Abel Tesfaye’s recent touring ambitions. After the release of his album After hours In spring 2020, an arena tour was twice postponed due to restrictions on large gatherings in the early stages of COVID-19.
Then, last fall, the Blinding lights Singer scraps those After hours trip overall in favor of “something bigger”. In March of that year, he announced a stadium tour in support After hours and his new concept album FM dawn.
In May, American rapper-singer Doja Cat said she was unable to open for the North American leg of the tour due to tonsillectomy. Some Doja Cat fans took to social media, demanding ticket refunds because she would no longer be on the bill.
You were unlucky. And while Rogers said this week its customers would be credited with five days of service due to the network outage, it remains to be seen whether ticket holders for the postponed Weeknd concert will be eligible for a refund.
Tickets for the canceled concert are valid after a new date for the make-up show has been announced. No refund procedure has been released, nor have Live Nation or Ticketmaster provided The Globe with details when asked about their refund policies. As a rule, refunds are given for canceled concerts, but not for postponed ones.
David Fleischer of Thornhill, Ontario, does not want his money back. He and his 17-year-old daughter Noa were on their way to the concert when they heard the news on the radio that the show had been postponed. “It was a sinking feeling,” said Fleischer. “But we will not seek a refund just yet.”
Because his daughter has a neuromuscular condition, Fleischer had purchased wheelchair-accessible seating (at $250 per ticket) on the 100th floor of the stadium. “The Weeknd was on her list of concerts to see,” he explained.
Fulfilling that wish was an odyssey of sorts, as the Weeknd haven’t toured since 2018. Father and daughter had tickets to the Weeknd’s canceled Scotiabank Arena concerts and were unsure until the last minute on Friday whether they wanted to attend the Rogers Center show. They were concerned about transportation and, since Noa is susceptible to infection, COVID-19.
They finally decided to leave but 10 minutes from the door they heard the bad news and turned around and headed home. “We’re not upset,” Fleischer said. “In fact, we laughed at the absurdity of it all. It’s like a dark comedy.”
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