At least 30 bands have officially canceled their appearances at this weekend’s (April 20-22) Metal Open Air — billed as “the biggest heavy metal festival ever organized in Brazil” — due to organizational and technical problems. The event, which was being headlined by MEGADETH, Rock ‘N’ Roll Allstars and VENOM, was being held at Parque Independência in São Luís, Maranhão (Brazil’s northeast).

According to various Brazilian media reports, the Metal Open Air camping area was set up at nearby horse stables (photos), with no bathrooms, light or water supply available — despite the fact that the event’s official web site promised “indoor and outdoor camping with toilets and showers.”

Third-day headliners VENOM announced their cancelation on Thursday, claiming that their South American visas were mistakenly sent to Africa. SAXON also announced they weren’t making the trip “due to a serious breach of contract by the promoters.” The band explained, “Having waited since March the 15th for the fee to arrive, as of Friday [April 20 at] 2 p.m., no money has arrived.”

First-day headliner MEGADETH managed to perform last night, albeit several hours behind schedule due to a delay in getting the stage ready as well as unspecified “security” issues. A number of other acts refused to play, and after ANTHRAX pulled out of the event due to a lack of sound equipment, the festival’s entire sound crew reportedly quit because they had not received their payment in time.

Commented BLIND GUARDIAN’s Hansi Kürsch: “In 25 years of our career, we have managed to fix all problems to make sure our performance is going to take place. No matter what the circumstances were, we intended to play. We have been extremely successful in the avoidance of canceled shows, so far. This, unfortunately, comes to a very sad end here in São Luís. Due to massive technical and administrative problems, we were forced to cancel tonight’s show. As far as we understand, it seems to be the local management who has not been able to secure a proper festival environment, anymore. Things are pretty out of hand there. We feel very sorry about this totally unsatisfying situation, but the mistakes made by the local promoter makes an even improvised show impossible. I know that we have the most dedicated fans and I count on your understanding. In the future, we will be more careful in confirming such festivals.”

GRAVE DIGGER’s Chris Boltendahl: “The Metal Open Air festival is canceled. Problems between the promoter, the P.A. and light company and many others forced us to cancel our participation at the MOA festival. It’s a sad day. We travelled so far to be part of this festival and we are so sorry for all the fans which attend to this festival. It is out of our hands.”

Rock ‘N’ Roll Allstars, an 11-piece supergroup comprised of Gene Simmons of KISS, three former members of GUNS N’ ROSES, Sebastian Bach and many other big names in rock history, released the following statement regarding their non-participation in Metal Open Air: “Rock ‘N’ Roll Allstars are saddened to annouce the cancellation of our performance at Metal Open Air festival in São Luís, Brazil. We regret not being able to attend. We are in South America and are ready to rock, but the circumstances are beyond our control: We were informed before flying to Brazil today that many other artists have pulled out of the event, as well as local security. We are very concerned for the safety of the fans and artists whom are already at the festival. We are receiving confirmed reports from other bands and friends on the ground that the event is dangerous and a disaster. Please be safe, and we look forward to rocking for you in the future.”

A Portuguese-language Brazilian TV report on the Metal Open Air organizational problems can be seen below.

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