Wilco have responded to fans’ calls for refunds for tickets to a Mexican festival, which is currently scheduled to take place next week.
Sky Blue Sky 2022 will be held at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in Mexico from January 17-21. Alongside three shows by Wilco, Spoon, Kurt Vile, Thundercat, Stephen Malkmus and Nubya Garcia have been advertised to perform. Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy is also scheduled to perform a solo set.
All-inclusive packages for the sold-out event – including accommodation – began at $1,699 (£1,240) per person.
Fans have called out both Wilco and the festival on social media for pushing ahead with the festival despite the current surge of COVID cases worldwide caused by the Omicron variant.
“While I loved Sky Blue Sky in 2020 and have been looking forward to SBS 2022, I think it’s irresponsible of Wilco and Cloud 9 to continue to move forward with the production,” one fan wrote on Facebook. “At a minimum, those that have purchased tickets should be offered a full refund like Dead & Company is doing for their “Playing in the Sand” event also in Riviera Maya.”
Another added: “Weird to me that Wilco, a very community-oriented band, is still pushing for this, or at least not offering refunds. I badly want to go, but between flight uncertainty and the very real chance of having to stay in Mexico for 10 days to quarantine, it’s not sounding like the fun, easy-going festival I bought into.”
In a statement, a representative for Wilco said: “With respect to the Sky Blue Sky festival, Wilco has been independently contracted to perform at this event and to have their name used to promote sales of tickets, in the same manner as most other live appearances by the group. The festival promoter, Cloud 9, is solely responsible for and determines all ticketing policies, including pricing and availability of refunds or credits.”
Last week, Tweedy spoke about fans’ concerns during an episode of his family’s livestream broadcast show The Tweedy Show. “I 100 per cent understand all the anxiety and anger and confusion that has been surrounding the Sky Blue Sky festival,” he said. “Wilco, we’re in a similar boat to everyone, not the same boat obviously, but a similar boat in that we’re trying to figure it out. We’re a contracted entity for this event.
“We’re hoping there’s some situation that becomes clear and resolves itself in a way that makes everyone happy. I find that to be an unlikely outcome at this point. I don’t think there’s anybody intentionally trying to fuck anybody over. I think there are a lot of rocks and a lot of hard places to be in on this particular topic.”
Promoters Cloud 9 Adventures told Pitchfork that the CDC had required testing when returning to the US from Mexico in place before tickets went on sale or the event was announced.
It added: “Just as event organisers have to make non-refundable commitments to the resort approximately one year in advance, fans who make a reservation to attend the event also acknowledge that their trip is non-refundable. This is made clear at the time of booking.”
It went on to state that travel insurance had been recommended since tickets went on sale and that policies could still be purchased until the event began. If attendees should contract COVID while at the festival, “complimentary extended stays are also offered by the resort and their third-party medical provider for any positive cases that may occur in Mexico until cleared for return travel”.
The statement continued: “As a service to the fans, Cloud 9 has extended and waived all last minute room transfer fees for anyone who has had a change of heart or is unable to attend, up through the day of check-in. A refund, or the ability to hold one’s spot for a rescheduled date, will be available to purchasers if the event were to be postponed. The event is moving forward as planned.”
Mexico’s coronavirus cases have been rapidly increasing in recent days, with 44,678 new cases reported yesterday (January 11). Tourism spots in particular are seeing their highest number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic.
Last week, Dead & Company cancelled their shows that were scheduled to take place in Cancun because of the rise in COVID cases. Prior to that, John Mayer pulled out of the gigs after testing positive for the virus.