Baltimore Sun

Insubordination Fest pits promoter, fans against Sonar

Insubordination Fest was at Sonar this weekend, and oh my did it stir up some drama. 

The promoter and several patrons of the two-day festival, which featured about 50 bands, are claiming the club denied them free cups of water on Saturday, and would only sell bottles instead -- a charge the owner denies. Bottles of water also varied in price Saturday.

Some of the festival-goers say the bartenders gave them a bottle and told them to refill it in the bathroom. And re-entry was not allowed on Saturday, even though the festival lasted more than 12 hours, according to co-founder Mark Enoch.


"It was hellish," Enoch said.

"I don't think I'll ever get some of the customers back because of the venue, and I don't blame them." ...


I've spoken and e-mailed with both sides of this one, and I'm not taking sides here -- I'm just presenting what I'm hearing. First, let's talk about the water situation.

Sonar owner Dan McIntosh said though the club wanted to sell bottles of water, no one was denying people cups of tap water.

"This is our policy on water: When someone asks you for water, you hand them a bottle of water," McIntosh said. "We are there to sell people things. ... But I know for a fact that none of our bartenders would not give someone a glass of water if they asked for it."

When Jacob Bruce, who lives in Missouri, asked for free water from a bartender, he was denied. He said the bartender told him a manager had instructed all the bartenders not to hand out free waters.

"I asked him what I was supposed to do and he said he could sell me a bottle for three dollars," Bruce wrote in an e-mail. "I said "three dollars!?" and he suggested that I buy a bottle and refill it in the bathroom, which I did all night right up until the of the show. The only time that I couldn't was when the men's room was closed because all the toilets were backing up."

At some bars, bottles of water were $2 on Saturday, and then they went up to $3, according to patrons. This was due to price structuring, McIntosh said.

As for the re-entry? On Friday night, Baltimore police busted a half dozen Insubordination Fest patrons drinking in the parking lot, McIntosh said. He said he pleaded with police not to arrest them, and was told he'd have to shut down the festival if he didn't impose a strict no re-entry policy on Saturday.

So there you have it, folks. Enoch is eying new locations for next year's festival. Meanwhile, McIntosh seemed to be soured on the festival and its clientele.


"Honestly, it's a situation where, if you can't even buy a bottle of water, maybe you shouldn't book an event at a major concert venue where there's bills to pay," McIntosh said.

(AP photo)