In the days following the 2008 Voodoo Music Experience, the message boards on the festival's Web site have turned from a source of general information to a place for VIP commiseration. Numerous people who paid the extra money for special LOA passes, which sell for three to four times the general admission price, are charging that Rehage Entertainment Inc. failed to provide many of the promised perks. Gambit Weekly spoke to two of these people, and their stories are remarkably similar.
The biggest thing was the grandstand, said David Vanderbrook, a Kenner resident and festival regular who says he spent close to $1,000 for two weekend passes. We paid all this money because we want a better view, or a comfortable view, and they didn't install the grandstand. We saw the pallets outside we had to walk by them every day.
Livia, a legal assistant in New Orleans who did not want to use her real name, is one of the boards' most outspoken posters and another repeat LOA customer. The main reason I do it is for the grandstand seating, she says. Where was it? 'We just decided not to do it this year.'
I haven't done anything yet, but my first course of action is to write a letter to Rehage, a demand letter listing what they promised in writing, what I paid for, and what I got. I want a full refund. (Reached by phone, a Rehage representative declined to comment at this time, but said the company was investigating the matter.)
Along with the nonexistent grandstands, Livia and Vanderbrook cite issues with several other LOA amenities: food and drink specials, gift bags, spa services and private restrooms. There was only one restroom, and it was filthy, Livia says.
They had one trailer bathroom, Vanderbrook confirms. The first day, it wasn't even hooked up; half the day they didn't have water for it. They weren't clean, they weren't stocked.
The first day we drove up we were looking for the LOA parking, he adds. One person told us there was no LOA parking or press parking, they weren't doing that this year. Last year, they gave you three free drinks a day. They're like, 'No, they're not doing that this year.'
Vanderbrook says he eventually found the parking lot, and was later given measured-out, one-ounce beverages by rude bartenders. But a promised Savvy Gourmet menu consisting of roasted lamb pita wraps, crab-avocado gazpacho, cochon de lait po-boys, smoked chicken, shrimp pot stickers, tamales, gumbo and more, according to the Voodoo Web site was reduced to carnitas tacos, fried tofu noodle salad and popsicles, Livia says.
They had four items, and they were the same four every day, says Vanderbrook. He also says that due to a shortage of supplies, VIPs were offered a diminishing line of consolation prizes, from promised signed posters to gift bags of AT&T paraphernalia. When I arrived, they were all gone, says Livia.
Both regulars say they have no plans to return to future Voodoo Music Experiences. We really felt like we were robbed, says Vanderbrook. There was nothing that justified us paying that much money. We talked to a couple from Connecticut, and they were saying the same exact thing.
We're not the richest people. We save up for [Voodoo]. It's one of our big things.
A response from Rehage Entertainment will be posted as soon as Gambit receives comment. In the meantime, please send any of your Voodoo LOA experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org.