Around 90 minutes after the first date of his “After Hours Til Dawn” stadium tour was postponed in his hometown of Toronto, the Weeknd posted a message to fans on his Instagram story. The concert was postponed shortly after doors were scheduled to open due to an ongoing, day-long outage of one of Canada’s biggest telecom networks, Rogers Wireless.
“I’m crushed & heartbroken,” he wrote. “Been at the venue all day but it’s out of our hands because of the Rogers outage. Operations and safety are compromised and I tried my absolute best. This one hurts the most, and we will make this show happen, but unfortunately not tonight. I know how long you’ve been waiting and how hard a lot of you worked to make it to the show and experience this special moment with me. I can’t wait to see you all.”
He closed with a broken-heart emoji.
A statement from tour promoter Live Nation reads: “The Weeknd was onsite and ready to play but due to the nationwide Rogers network outage The Weeknd show planned for this evening at Rogers Centre will be postponed as the venue’s operations & infrastructure are not possible until full service is back. Please hold on to your ticket. Updates on a new date coming soon.”
Sources tell Variety that the announcement of the postponement came so late because the Weeknd’s team was working up until the last possible minute to find a way to make the technically complex show work under such conditions.
The mood among fans outside the venue after the postponement was announced was more sad and disappointed than angry. The feelings of many of the 25-odd people Variety spoke with — all of whom declined to give their full names (maybe it’s a Canadian thing?) — were summed up by a 23-year-old woman from Newmarket, just north of Toronto. “It’s nobody’s fault so it’s hard to be mad — I’m just disappointed.”
Even two women from Switzerland, also 23, were more sad than angry. “We’ve been looking forward to this for months and we’re going home tomorrow!”
However, some were angry. “They didn’t tell us anything,” an 18-year-old from Toronto said. “We came all the way down here and they didn’t tell us hours before, like they usually do. If they were having technical difficulties they should have said something before.”
Her friend, also 18, added, “I couldn’t get data but I added it to my Apple Wallet and that doesn’t need wifi.”
As the Weeknd notes in his message, the venue — which, ironically, is sponsored by and named after Rogers, the wireless company suffering the outage — is so thoroughly wired that it would have been unsafe to hold the show under these conditions. The Rogers Centre, formerly called the Skydome, is a cashless venue and all transactions — merchandise, food, beverage and the majority of ticketing — rely on WiFi, except for fans who saved their tickets to Apple Wallet or other non-Wifi-reliant apps.
While anyone not in Canada might think the postponement was an overreaction, the outage, which began at around 4:30 a.m. ET and affected the entire country, illuminated just how much modern society has come to rely on cellular coverage: Throughout the country, government and banking systems, parking and countless other businesses were incapable of processing transactions. Restaurants were forced to serve on a cash-only basis. Cafes and any business offering free wifi were packed. The level of disruption is genuinely alarming and is a sobering reminder of what would take place in the event of a cyber-attack.
Just a month before the concert, Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the country’s government was on “high alert” for cyberattacks by Russia and others in the wake of the increasingly hostile international relations caused by the war in Ukraine.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that, in the current geopolitical environment in which we find ourselves, that we are very much on high alert for potential attacks from hostile state actors like Russia,” Mendicino said during an appearance at the country’s House of Commons public safety committee.
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