London rockers Reef had been booked to play the Prestonpans Music Festival but pulled out the day before the event due to non- payment of their fee.
Festival organisers failed to tell the 2700-strong crowd until just before the band were due on stage, claiming they had delayed the announcement to maintain public safety.
The festival has been described as “a total joke”, after advertised family friendly attractions such as a funfair also failed to appear.
The festival opened its doors two hours late last Saturday and closed two hours early, with Reef frontman Gary Stringer claiming the organisers knew well in advance that his band would not be playing.
Perfection Events, which hosted the one-day East Lothian music festival, has refused to pay out any refunds on tickets – which cost £10, £20 and £60 – but said ticket-holders would be entitled to a discount for the 2013 event.
East Lothian Council Trading Standards officers have now opened an investigation into the event after having been inundated with complaints.
Gill Cowe, from Tranent, who paid £68 to take her children along to see Reef, said: “We bought four tickets for the festival after we promised the kids a fantastic first gig experience. The tickets came to £68, which for us is a lot, but as it was the first day of our holidays we thought it would be a great start.
“We got there just before 8pm as the event had advertised there would be lots of stalls and a funfair. But when we turned up there was nothing like that at all.
“Then just 15 minutes after getting into the venue it was announced that Reef hadn’t turned up. The kids were devastated. We just decided to head home with my daughter in tears.”
Angela Fleming, from Prestonpans added: “The festival just turned into a farce. I’ve been in touch to try and get a refund but so far had no luck. The whole day was total joke.”
Reef singer Gary Stringer said: “We gave the festival [promoters] until 5pm on Friday, July 27 to complete [the contract]. But our agent telephoned me shortly after I’d left home, en route to Prestonpans, and suggested we turn around. So, the festival organisers knew we weren’t coming. I really feel for the fans – it sucks.”
A Perfection Events statement said: “On behalf of the Prestonpans Music Festival 2012 we would like to apologise to those who attended the festival on July 28 for the issues regarding the headline band, Reef.
“All indication from Reef was that they were looking forward to playing the festival. Unfortunately due to contractual issues Reef were unable to take part.
“As soon as we were made aware definitively that Reef would not be attending we closed the box office. As Reef were unable to play it meant that the festival would naturally have to end early.
“We were also advised by police and security advisors not to declare publicly that Reef could not play until all the bands had been on stage, due to security concerns.”
A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: “We have had several complaints from people who attended the Prestonpans Music Festival and we are currently carrying out an investigation. Anyone who has concerns can email us on [email protected]”.