The first ever Houston Open Air Festival ended on a bad note, due to severe weather warnings, lightning strikes in particular. Festival grounds were evacuated numerous times on the first day, however the show went on during the later half of the day.
On the bright side of things, fans did get to see The Word Alive, Chevy Metal, Buckcherry, The Cult, Ministry, Slayer and headliner Alice In Chains on the first day. These bands gave fans a taste of what the rock and roll scene used to be back in the days.
The second day was a completely different story, however, with gates open being delayed for about an hour in which the festival went on for about 2 hours before festival producers decided to evacuate the grounds once again due to continuous lighting warnings from local meteorologists. The festival was eventually called off.
As most of the bands left immediately once the festival was called off, a few bands stuck around to give fans what they deserve by having free shows in various local venues. UK pop-punk band Neck Deep hosted a no-barrier free show at Walter’s Downtown, Starset had theirs at Raven Tower, Avenged Sevenfold announced a last minute, first-come, first-served show at White Oak Music Hall and despite many rumours, Deftones was not able to perform at Warehouse Live. Avatar announced they will be having a free show at Scout Bar on Monday, 26th September.
Despite some lucky fans who were able to enjoy these make-up shows, there were still thousands who were left frustrated and disappointed as what was promised a weekend full of hard rocking music and good food turns out to be a disaster. But the safety of the fans was the priority of Danny Wimmer and under any circumstances he was not willing to risk that, as he clearly explains in his statement:
“The last thing we want to do is cancel a show, but we will not risk people getting hurt. It takes nearly an hour to safely evacuate a site—including consumers, staff, vendors, and artists–so they can get to safety before a major storm hits. So we have to make the evacuation decision more than an hour in advance, even if there is still a chance the storm might not hit.”
He continues, “I read all the comments on our social media, and I understand the frustrations that some people felt, but our job is to protect everyone. I don’t make the decision lightly, but I would make the same decision again. We were seeing signs of storm cells expected to be heavy until 7:00 PM, followed by another storm from the Gulf. We drill for these situations. When the decision was made to evacuate, everyone executed perfectly.
We’ve been through this kind of experience twice before—at Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville 2015 (when a tornado hit near the site) and Monster Energy Carolina Rebellion 2013—and are always committed to keeping people safe.”
“The elements prevented us from giving Houston the rock show it deserves, but with the support of community, we will come back bigger and better. We are committed to and are passionate about the rock community and the city of Houston.”
In which, Danny Wimmer CEO, Danny Hayes adds:
“We spent hundreds of hours planning every aspect of Houston Open Air, but you can’t plan the weather, you can only have a plan to respond to it. I am proud of our team for making the difficult decision and then flawlessly executing our evacuation plan. In these situations, the only report I want to hear is that ‘no one was hurt.’ We’ve all heard about dangerous lightning and wind incidents at other music festivals around the world, and even saw an NFL game delayed due to lightning on Sunday, so it’s clear that weather issues need to be taken seriously.”
Houston Open Air was the rock and metal festival that Houston clearly deserved and has all the right ingredients to be one of the best rock music festivals in the country, yet Mother Nature prevails denying fans the hard-rocking weekend they were promised.