Fans of Southern rock band the Black Crowes were left crowing their disappointment on Wednesday night after the band's concert at Ryan Creek Meadows was abruptly canceled, more than an hour after its scheduled start time.
The band, which had scheduled the outdoor concert east of Missoula as part of its ongoing farewell tour, was unable to perform after a driving rain "fried" both the main mixing console and power amplifiers at the concert - leaving the venue scrambling to explain the situation to the more than 1,000 people in attendance, said Ryan Creek Meadows co-owner Keli Hansen.
"Right after they uncovered the (mixing) console, there was a heavy downpour that blew in really fast, that blew out the console and the amps," said Hansen, noting that the lack of a functioning public address system left her and others involved with the concert unable to even explain the situation to the crowd. "You know how it is here in Montana - sometimes you get a rain that's coming at you from three directions - and this one just blew in really fast and I guess it managed to affect the equipment, even though it was all covered up.
"It's just one of those unfortunate things that you do your best to avoid, but Mother Nature ultimately has the final say."
Those who purchased tickets to the concert will receive a full refund, with the method of reimbursement depending on where the tickets were bought.
Those who bought their tickets online through TicketFly.com will receive an automatic refund to the credit card on which the tickets were purchased, said Hansen.
Anyone who purchased tickets at Rockin Rudy's should return them to the store for a refund.
And those who bought tickets at the gate but did not receive a refund upon leaving the venue Wednesday night can e-mail Kristine Simoni, marketing director for Boise, Idaho-based concert promoter Land of Rock, at firstname.lastname@example.org, to arrange for a refund.
On Thursday, Simoni explained that her company pulled the plug on the concert after it became evident that the equipment failure, along with wet conditions on stage, had created a situation that was potentially dangerous for the musicians, crew and audience.
"The problem was the wind blowing rain onto the stage, which got some equipment wet," said Simoni, who noted that in the course of producing scores of outdoor concerts over 15 years, her company's owner, Creston Thornton, had never before had to cancel a one outright.
"With everything so wet, even if the equipment could have been gotten back up and running, it would have been unsafe for everyone," said Simoni. "And the second bout of rain and lightning at 9 p.m. would have been right in the middle of the Black Crowes' set, so we would have had to shut down at that point anyway. It was disappointing."
Simoni said the delay in announcing the cancellation of the concert was due in part to a last-ditch effort to reschedule the concert. Utlimately, though, the band was unable to do so.
On Wednesday night and Thursday, many concertgoers took to Facebook and Twitter to voice their disappointment with the cancellation, and particularly with how it was handled.
Many cast blame on the venue itself.
"You guys definitely shouldn't ever say ‘rain or shine,' especially when folks drive to podunk to get there," Missoula concertgoer Lesley Lotto posted to Ryan Creek Meadows' Facebook fan page on Thursday. "Bad form on your part."
Concertgoer Ivy Irvine of Missoula said communication about the situation at the venue was as big a frustration as the weather and subsequent cancellation.
"Once it started raining, people were fairly anxious about the show not starting," said Irvine, who was waiting in the venue's camping area before the concert started. "Around 7:45 p.m., I called some friends of mine who were inside the show already to hear if they knew anything, and she conveyed to me that after talking to a sound guy that the show might be canceled. Fortunately for me, they made the cancellation announcement right as I was on the phone with my friend, so I knew the show was going to be canceled. But up at the camping area, no one knew."
Some concertgoers also questioned whether the band had balked at the quality of the facilities and on-site infrastructure offered by Ryan Creek Meadows, which is essentially a bare hay field 30 miles east of Missoula along Interstate 90 where a handful of concerts and events have taken place since last summer.
But venue co-owner Hansen said that the band's management and the concert promoter were aware of the on-site facilities long before this week, and had contracted with Rocky Mountain Rigging for the stage and technical infrastructure that was provided at the concert.
Hansen said she nevertheless understands the frustration of those who were left not knowing what was happening, or how to go about getting a refund of the venue's $5 parking fee and optional $20 camping fee.
"This was definitely a learning experience for us," said Hansen. "By the time the show was canceled, we had already sent out a bank drop of the parking fees, so the cash literally wasn't there anymore to make those refunds. We obviously won't be doing things that way again in the future. That's a stinker of a thing and we're trying to compensate for that as best we can."
Hansen said that anyone who paid for parking on Wednesday is invited to attend this weekend's mud-bog races at Ryan Creek Meadows for free. Those who wish to take advantage of that offer should bring a photocopy of their ticket to the events, which take place Saturday and Sunday, starting at noon.
Concertgoers can also receive a voucher for free parking at any concert next summer by mailing a photocopy of their Black Crowes concert ticket to RCM, 425 S. Orange St., Missoula, MT 59801.
People who paid for camping at Ryan Creek Meadows can receive a full refund, whether they camped at the site Wednesday or not, by mailing their camping permit to the same address.
Given the situation, Hansen said that's the best she can figure to do for disappointed concert fans.
"There is no way to financially compensate somebody for a lost experience," said Hansen. "I was so excited to talk to people who were traveling a long distance for this concert, and there's no way to compensate them for that. No words will make them feel better about what happened on their mini-vacation. Especially in this economy, you only have so many opportunities for an experience like this. So I completely understand. It's a bummer."