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White Stripes on hold

Kent Driscoll
Northern News Services
Monday, May 14, 2007

IQALUIT - When rock band the White Stripes announced an Iqaluit show as part of their North American tour, it sent music fans across the North into a fever pitch, while making headlines across the country.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Meg and Jack White of the White Stripes may have to put their June 27 concert in Iqaluit on hold, as organizers scramble to organize tickets and venues. - photo courtesy of Patrick Keeler

Now a waiting game is taking some of the fun out what should be the largest rock show in Nunavut history. The city recreation department is putting a hold on the tickets until safety issues are addressed for the show, which is scheduled to take place June 27 at the Arctic Winter Games arena.

As of press deadline last week, tickets for the concert were not for sale, leaving local businesses answering phone calls from around the world.

"We have received over 150 calls, and I have people from Boston wanting tickets who already booked a flight. They have visited Nunavut before, but didn't spend much time in Iqaluit, heard about the concert, and thought it would be a great time to come back," said Claire Kennedy. Kennedy's business DJ Sensations is the primary ticket outlet for the concert.

Over at Iqaluit radio station CKIQ Raven Rock has also been receiving phone calls.

"We were getting a lot of calls until last weekend, after that, it died off. Friday was nuts; I was turning them away. There is still an interest, but not a buzz," said Glenn Craig, CKIQ program director and general manager.

Craig is concerned about the concert even happening at this point.

"I'm fearful somebody dropped the ball. You want to ride the emotion right until showtime," said Craig.

You won't hear the White Stripes much on Raven Rock. With theme shows in the daytime - oldies, 70s - they only play White Stripes in their regular rotation after 7 p.m.

'We play them when requested. I'm not fussy about them," said Craig.

"We have had tons of phone calls, locally, outside the territory, Maclean's magazine called," said Tracy Leschyshyn, clerk for the City of Iqaluit, and the city's designated point person for all questions regarding White Stripes.

Nunavut has the youngest population in North America, and Iqaluit youth have little to do. The night of the show will be no different if things stand as is.

"It is advertised for 19 plus, but we don't know yet, they will inform us (if they receive a liquor licence),' said Leschyshyn.

An all-ages show would allow more people into the venue, as the fire marshal has it allotted for 800 people when alcohol is not served, according to Leschyshyn.

Leschyshyn was optimistic the tickets would eventually arrive.

"Hopefully we will have the tickets by tomorrow (May 10), they are in the mail," said Leschyshyn.

Nunavut News/North then learned they were printed locally.

When reached, Leschyshyn explained "in the mail" was really a metaphor for "I don't know where they are."

"The impression I was left with was that the tickets were on the way," said Leschyshyn. "When we do get the tickets, we are only going to release a limited amount, because we are unsure about capacity. We want to be responsible."

She said since this is supposed to be a licensed event, the liquor board could overturn the fire marshal's capacity. Whichever group gives the lower capacity will prevail.

City recreation co-ordinator Mike Courtney didn't know the location of the tickets, but said his department has asked the city to delay the sale of tickets.

"To the recreation department, it is a capacity issue. We are holding the tickets until that is resolved," said Courtney.

Since it started slowly sinking into the tundra and was declared unfit for hockey, the Arctic Winter Games arena has been used for concerts and trade shows.

"Since we don't use it as an arena, you have to submit a seating plan through the fire marshal. We haven't received that yet," said Courtney.