Kanye West ditched his Meadows concert on Sunday evening mid-song, telling the crowd the show was over due to a “family emergency,” which the world has since learned was wife Kim Kardashian being robbed at gun point in Paris. West was reportedly about halfway through his set when he abruptly ended the show, leaving many show-goers disappointed and wondering whether a refund will be issued. The answer is no.
West’s set, which was part of a larger festival, called the Meadows Music and Arts Festival, was the closing event of the Sunday line up, which began at 12:30pm with Zella Day and consisted of a number of other acts, including Chance the Rapper. His ongoing Saint Pablo tour concert sets usually run about 2 hours long, and Sunday evening’s set was, according to the official Meadows schedule, slated to run from 8:15 to 10pm. According to a TFL source, West went onstage just after 8:45pm and performed until roughly 9:45pm.
While event organizers commonly issue refunds to would-be show-goers due to weather-related cancellations and other in-advance changes (as is the case with Selena Gomez’s recently cancelled “Revival” European tour, for instance, and Janet Jackson’s recently postponed “Unbreakable” tour, which began on August 31), refunds due to shows-cut-short prove far less straightforward. Refunds are also murky for festivals, as they are typically measured by length/completion of performances as a whole, as opposed to by the individual sets. This can prove problematic for show-goers, as festivals are very commonly host to sets of varied level of interest with the most highly anticipated closing each day’s set and no small number of festival-goers attending primarily for those sets.
Festival representative, Chris Vinyard, confirmed to TFL that The Meadows Music and Arts Festival – as opposed to Front Gate – is the entity making decisions about refunds in connection with this weekend’s event. Accordingly, a statement from The Meadows reads: “Kanye West had to end his performance near the end of his set time to attend to a very frightening and unexpected family emergency. He put on a great show to culminate an incredible weekend of live performances, and we are looking forward to next year’s festival. We will not be issuing any refunds.”
IS THIS COMMON PRACTICE?
Somewhat unsurprisingly, we have seen somewhat – I emphasize somewhat – similar instances in the past. In November 2009, for instance, Morrissey, the former frontman of the Manchester band, The Smiths, walked off stage after he was hit by a plastic bottle thrown from the crowd. The singer stopped his performance halfway through his second song, and refused to return to the stage to finish his set. At the time, a spokeswoman for SMJ, the promoters of the show, issued a statement saying: “This incident is extremely unfortunate but is directly the result of the actions of one individual and cannot reflect on the general safety situation at Liverpool Echo Arena. Each concert presents its own challenges and stewarding and security precautions are tailored to the expected level of demand in individual case. We will be issuing full refunds to those in attendance.”
More recently, in August 2015, when a Tom Jones show in London was cut short due to electrical difficulties, fans were not issued refunds. According to Ticketmaster, an official ticket-seller for the show: “We do understand that the main act started a little later than planned, and the end of the show was abrupt because of the power failure, so we’ve been liaising with Loose Cannon [the concert organizer] about this. However, on this occasion we wouldn’t be in a position to offer a refund for tickets as the majority of the event did go ahead.” The same was true when a 2007 Bonnie Rait concert was cut short after a tree fell on a power line, cutting power to the area in Washington state. According to concert organizers in that instance: “Tickets are non-refundable except in the event of a cancellation, and then tickets are refundable at the original point of purchase only.”
Finally, fans were, in fact, issued refunds when troubled comedian Katt Williams abruptly walked off stage roughly 30-40 minutes into his show in Atlanta in March 2013, citing illness. Oracle Arena, Ticketmaster and Live Nation released statements on the heels of the show saying that they would be issuing refunds to all ticket holders.
In short: The terms of refunds vary quite widely depending on the event organizer and ticket issuing-parties, and in this case, refunds are a no-go for the many disappointed show-goers.