Update: Reimbursement information at the bottom of this post
Last week Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers kicked off a six-night stint at the Fonda, giving fans a chance to see the perennial favorite in a much smaller venue than he usually plays.
That is, unless you went on Saturday night, when the fire marshal pulled the plug in the middle of the show. The reason? Overcrowding — and folks were pissed.
In a statement released after the show, Petty's folks insist that the number of tickets sold did not exceed the capacity of the building.
To those fans who attended last night's show at the Fonda Theatre, we are as frustrated as you are!
L.A. Times critic Randall Roberts reported that mid-way through the show, Petty told the crowd he'd been informed that 100 or so people either had to go up to the balcony, or leave the concert. When no one did either, during the song “Melinda,” Petty announced that the show was over.
So, what happened? In the aftermath, many people are pointing the finger at the Fonda. A big problem, they say, is that a number of people bribed their way in.
One concert-goer we spoke with, who asked to remain anonymous, says she bought a ticket ahead of time, but her husband couldn't get one. After getting in the long will-call line (in hopes that extra tickets would be released), the husband asked a woman scanning tickets how long their wait might be. The Fonda staffer then offered him entry without any ticket at all — for $80 cash. He agreed.
In a post on the Fonda's Facebook page, meanwhile, a man named K.C. Douglas says he witnessed hordes of fans get into the sold-out show at the last minute. “I watched as staff sold $80 entrances to a walk-up line that was at least 50+ strong. All of them got into a show where tickets were unavailable online dating back to a few minutes after they were put on sale in March.”
Another attendee, Rebecca Leanne Morgan, says security never checked her ticket as she came in to make sure that she was heading to the right section. “I don't think that the venue was over-sold, I think that security wasn't checking wristbands or tickets,” she tells us.
The Fonda did not return our requests for comment.
Attendees also say that security was lax. One man posted a photograph on Facebook of a security staffer taking a nap.
Another problem? Moving between the balcony and the floor, as Petty implored folks to do just before pulling the plug, isn't so easy. In fact, separate wristbands were required that night for the floor and the balcony.
“The only reason that 100 people extra get on the floor [who] shouldn't be there is by the venue not managing the event properly,” says Mike Williamson, who was in attendance.
The show was cut short about two-thirds of the way through, with six songs left. But the performance had already gone sour for some.
Isaac Garcia, for example, had a wristband for the floor. But after leaving the area to use the restroom, he says his re-entry (along with that of many others) was blocked by security. “It didn't matter that my wife was on the floor,” he tells us via email. “Nor did it matter that security didn't warn any of us who went to the bathroom that we would not be let back onto the floor. People were PISSED. Lots of yelling. Everyone was screaming for a manager.”
The show was the fourth of six shows that Tom Petty is playing at the Fonda. Petty says he'll give fans refunds; tickets started at about $80. [Update: Reimbursement details are below.]
The rocker's Sunday night show at the same venue appeared to go more smoothly, and the final performance is tonight.
In any case, the Fonda appears to be losing the PR battle. In a comment on their Facebook page, an attendee named Rebecca Leanne Morgan says that when she asked a manager about a refund, he said he wasn't interested in helping and threatened to call the cops if she didn't leave.
Others say that as everyone was leaving, a staffer glibly said, “Sorry, hope to see you guys at tomorrow night's show.” That performance was, of course, sold out.
Here is the press release from Petty's PR, which contains reimbursement information.
TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS ANNOUNCE REFUND FOR JUNE 8 FONDA THEATRE SHOW
On the evening of Saturday June 8, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers were unable to complete their concert at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles due to the Fire Marshal's judgment that the floor at the venue was overcrowded.
The interruption of the show occurred 90 minutes into the performance that would likely have continued for approximately another 30 minutes.
The satisfaction of fans is of paramount importance to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and the band shares the frustration of the fans in attendance that evening who deserved to experience the entire performance.
As a result, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and Goldenvoice are pleased to announce that full refunds for the June 8 show are now available at the point of purchase.
We are also pleased to confirm that Ticketmaster has agreed to refund all incurred Ticketmaster fees.
Fans who attended the June 8 show at the Fonda Theatre can request a refund with proof of purchase anytime prior to September 10, 2013.
Original Ticketmaster purchasers can obtain a refund by calling Ticketmaster customer support at 800-653-8000 between 9am-9pm (PDT) or by emailing them here. Orders will be refunded to the credit card originally used for purchase immediately, but please note that it can take about 7-10 business days to post to your account.
Customers who purchased artist released tickets night of show at the venue must bring back their original ticket stub to the Fonda Theatre beginning Wednesday for a full refund. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, from 9:30am to 5pm.