Weather Evacuation Causes Concert Chaos

Show goes on hours after fans told to leave, can’t get their money back

Scores of concert-goers who went to hear singer Don Henley perform at Northerly Island in June say they were shocked to learn that hours after they were forced to evacuate the venue due to dangerous weather, the concert went on without them.

Among those fans were Mellody and Roger Lewis of Shorewood, who shelled out $200 for tickets on that June night. But just before start time, the skies over Illinois clouded over.

"It started to drizzle a bit, we actually brought ponchos because it says on the ticket rain or shine,” Roger Lewis said.

It wasn’t long before concert-goers heard a grim announcement.

“A voice came came over the PA: we’re evacuating the pavilion now. Everyone must leave,” Mellody Lewis recalled.

“The tone was get out now!” Roger Lewis added.

The drizzle had turned into a downpour, with lightning strikes nearby. The couple said concert-goers were ordered to move out fast.

“There is severe weather approaching. Check social media for rescheduling. So, for us, that meant this concert is being shut down ad it would be rescheduled for another time,” Mellody Lewis said.

The next day, Mellody Lewis went searching for the new date. That’s when she said the story really hit a sour note.

“They had the concert. And Roger said, ‘No, you’re wrong about that. That did not happen!’ And I said, ‘It happened. I’m reading it right here,’” Mellody Lewis told NBC 5 Responds.

At 10:15 p.m., Henley did take the stage, and according to some who stayed, played a dozen songs to a small audience after the majority of the crowed heeded the announcement and left.

“We had spent $200, we were told to leave, and the, you know, the performance went on at a really late hour just for a short period of time,” Mellody Lewis said.

“I was really upset and just couldn't believe it,” Roger Lewis said.

Neither could scores of other fans who lashed out online at both the venue and the concert promoter for terrible communication.

“They handled the aftermath HORRIBLY,” one user wrote.

“We feel cheated,” another user said.

“No announcement from the PA,” one person wrote. “No information other than get out of the venue. And now you’re on stage?”

Roger Lewis had another theory.

“Maybe they did this so they didn’t have to reschedule. They didn’t have to come back. And then it made me even more upset,” he said.

When he reached out to Live Nation Entertainment, Roger Lewis said his complaint went nowhere.

“I got the response the concert actually went on and there will be no refund at this time,” Roger Lewis said.

That’s when the Lewis family decided to ask NBC 5 Responds for help. We asked Live Nation if it was fair to tell concert-goers to get out, but hours later, get on with the show.

A spokesman for Live Nation says the crowd was advised to check social media for updates, and said Henley did play a full performance set. But then, agreed to reimburse the couple their $200.

“I feel that because you went to bat for us, we got something back,” Mellody Lewis said. “That would have never happened without NBC, so thank you.”

Live Nation told NBC 5 Responds concerts do go on — rain or shine — unless there is a safety issue, like lightning. And when that happens, Live Nation said it decides on a case-by-case basis whether comparable tickets will be offered to concert-goers who reach out.

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