Disclaimer: We are not privy to the arrangements done by 117 Live for this event, we don’t know their conversations with the authorities, nor whether they had things happen that were out of their control. While there were rumours of an accident causing the tailbacks, this wasn’t mentioned in their press release, nor have there been any photographs or videos of said accident despite hundreds of cars being around the biggest gig of the season. Keeping this in consideration, all my points below are based on what I know, saw or experienced. They could be completely wrong, which is why I’m sticking specifically to the facts I witnessed.

Traffic:

Let’s start with the obvious. Yes, the organizers said the doors open at 4. Yes, it was a Friday. But most human beings that work in Dubai and have family here don’t have the luxury of leaving for a concert venue 5 hours before the performance. It is great you have an early door-opening policy, but don’t say something stupid like ‘there were some fans whose travel arrangements didn’t get them to the venue on time’. Just say ‘we’re sorry’. It isn’t that hard, 117. It does not take away anything from you. It humanizes you.

What can be changed: the one thing we all noticed was that it was a 2-3 lane road leading to the venue. You can’t control that since you already have the venue booked. What you can do is provide a clear map of directions and instructions on how to get to the venue via alternative routes. Send this out a few days before and on the day. If you’re really clever, create the various routes on Google Maps, then click ‘share’ and copy paste the URL of the same to your tweet, insta and Facebook pages. It makes it easier for people.

Increase the number of buses. 15 buses is nowhere near enough. RTA provided 200 buses to Atlantis because they were informed in advance there would be almost 100,000 people coming for the NYE bash on December 31, 2013.

Also, Parking Area D was empty when we got there and it was empty when we left. So why on earth were so many cars still trying to get in and being told there was no parking?

Entry:

It’s 2017. QR Codes are dead. In fact, they were never alive. They never took off. It’s only companies desperate to make digital work that are still using it. Stop. Here’s why:

I made it to the queue after all that walking, only to be standing for a further 20 minutes because you decided 5 people were enough to scan the tickets of every attendee. Further more, each person was using an iPhone to scan the QR Code. A phone. I’m going to say this as politely as I can: ARE YOU STUPID OR SOMETHING?

TWO of the phones died. Yes, two of the people whose job it was to scan the tickets had their phones die while they were scanning. Each scan took time. Instead of having a superfast existing medium like a barcode reader, you went the wrong way. I know it may have sounded like a good idea, so I’ll leave it here and just say no. It wasn’t. Please use a barcode reader for further concerts.

You had no proper signage directing people to the appropriate entry points. It’s only once you reached the actual opening in the green wall that you saw the cheaply printed ‘General’ or ‘VIP banner. Also, this wasn’t the ‘entry’. This was the pre-entry, where a security guard’s only job was to not let us enter the area that had A CROWD CONTROL GRID in place.

Again: HOW STUPID ARE YOU?

You have spent money to create a grid of pipes to allow people to queue properly when getting tickets scanned, and instead of allowing them in you decided to create chaos outside the venue with thousands of people amassing at the entrance to the queuing area. It’s simple: if you have a queuing system, use it. Having 50 people get in the queue, while 5000 are waiting outside, that’s what you call stupid.

F&B:

I loved the options. Unlike other concerts I’ve been to, I like that 117 decided to include a variety of outlets, including the cheap but good fast food like Hardee’s. Great idea. Much better than the simple ‘one stop for all types of food’ idiocy that clogs up all other concert F&B areas.

Here’s what grinds my gears:

I queued for at least 30 minutes at the first Token queue which was just inside the entry area, until a woman came to me and said there’s another set of token counters in the area behind us, near the F&B area. Interestingly, there were NO signs telling us this, nor did any employee of the token stand say anything despite the queue of hundreds lined up outside his station. That too, ONE guy, in ONE cabin. I’ll reserve my stupidity comment for the end of this topic.

I walked over to the other token counter. This was much larger, and had 5 people manning the queues. The queues were shorter too, so I got into one of them. After 10 minutes, I got to the front, only to be told it was a cash-only queue and that I would have to move to the credit card queue. Guess what: there was only one credit card queue, the other 4 were only cash. At a concert venue.

With no signs saying this.

Again: ARE YOU STUPID OR SOMETHING?

Audio-visuals:

I’ve been in the events industry for almost a decade, and if there’s one thing I know it’s that a quality sound and light company will ensure instant solutions to problems that occur when an act is live.

It doesn’t seem like you had a quality sound and light company. Why? Because for a whole 30 minutes from the start of the concert, your video feed on the giant LED screens had a delay against the sound. We heard before we saw. This happens. And is rectified within a few minutes. Usually.

Not by YOUR sound and light company, 117. No, you took 30 minutes, for which people paid upwards of 400 dirhams.

PR:

Fire whoever handles your PR and social media. I meant it. Fire them. They have no idea how to handle event crises. You were so desperate to make a mark that you prepared your press release that very night? I received a copy of it just after the concert ended. This means you didn’t even get a change to go out and speak with concert goers, nor did you take the opportunity to see and read what people have to say overnight. Like I said, PR fail. Your social media team simply reposted the same 140 character reply to every complaint about the traffic. You might as well hire a bot, I don’t know why you’re paying someone to just copy and paste stuff.

I’ve been told you started operations just a year ago. If you did, why did you bite off more than you can chew? Get the experience needed.

I’m trying to be nice here, but all the things I mentioned above were STUPID MISTAKES.

These were mistakes that amateurs make. NOT a company that is bringing down the most beloved rock band of the 90s.

Sort your shit out, sort your staff out, sort your planning out, sort your suppliers out, sort your PR out, sort your social media out.

The concert:

Thank God for Guns & Roses. They delivered like the true artists they are. The tension between Axl and Slash was apparent, but they definitely delivered the team performance needed. That, and putting on an additional set of minutes to perform more songs due to the delays shows why they’re one of the greatest.

Thank you Guns & Roses for a wonderful night. The content delivered where the organizers failed.