On Monday I received an early Christmas present in the mail: two passes to the Soundwave music festival in Melbourne. Two golden tickets to a day of rocking out in the January sunshine with Public Enemy, the Prodigy, L7 and Frenzal Rhomb, among 23 other confirmed bands. I was stoked.

On Thursday I got another one: the news that the festival had been cancelled, reportedly due to deep financial difficulties, and my $337 tickets were now worthless. I was not so stoked.

And then came the real moshpit kick-to-the-head: no refunds, probably.

Merry bloody Christmas.

Normally when an event gets cancelled for whatever reason, ticket holders can get an automatic refund from the place of purchase. Actually, they're entitled to - it's the law.

In this case however, both Soundwave's ticket agency Eventopia and the festival's promoter AJ Maddah are denying responsibility for refunds, each pointing the finger at the other.

At the heart of the disagreement appears to be a commercial arrangement gone sour between the two parties. In a post on its Facebook page, Eventopia claims it had a "ticketing sales agreement" with Maddah that makes him personally liable for refunds.

In a post on Twitter, Maddah claims Eventopia are "trying to get out of refunding fans and heaping it on (a) broke promoter via dirt tactics".

To music fans who have been dudded hundreds, even thousands of dollars just days out from Christmas - not to mention the many South Aussies who have already shelled out for flights and accommodation - it all just sounds like a lot of pathetic whining.

Call me old fashioned, but I thought taking someone's money in exchange for a service or product and then not ponying up was called "theft".

The way I see it, Eventopia took my money, so Eventopia are the ones who have to refund me, regardless of whatever agreement they had with Soundwave.

If I order a loaf of bread from the bakery and they fail to deliver it because of a problem with their flour supplier, I shouldn't have to email the flour mill to get my money back.

Not that Soundwave should be totally off the hook here; in the 48 hours since the festival's cancellation much news has come to light about its troubled financial situation over the past few years.

It had long been one of the biggest events on the Australian music calendar, but according to news reports out Thursday night Soundwave had been in financial trouble for some time, with claims it owed up to $2.1 million each to various bands from the 2015 line-up including Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson and Slipknot.

Of all the bands to owe money to you'd think you'd want to steer clear of the ones in spiked horror masks who write lyrics like "I will rip you apart, I'll reach in and take a bite out of that s**t you call a heart", but perhaps that's reflective of just how desperate things were.

Meanwhile, all of this information is hardly helpful to punters like me who bought their tickets in the last few months as Christmas presents.

I mean, thanks to the journalists who finally dug up all those financial documents but to quote Adam Sandler in "The Wedding Singer": this is information that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY. Or last month, when I bought tickets to an event that was apparently never going to happen.

Soundwave is the latest in a recent conga line of Aussie music festivals to kick the bucket, including the Big Day Out and Future Music. Others such as Stereosonic have been plagued with drug and safety issues. Clearly the organisers of these national events need to get their acts together on many fronts.

To borrow a line from Public Enemy, a band I had really hoped to see in five weeks' time: I guess I shouldn't have believed the hype.


First published in The Advertiser, December 19, 2015. CLICK HERE to read the original article.