Chaos reigned in supermarkets in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo Monday as tens of thousands of fans tried to buy tickets for a concert by Irish rockers U2.
Cashiers’ machines broke down and lines went round city blocks. People who had waited for more than 12 hours under a blazing sun grew frustrated and angry as night fell and they still hadn’t found what they were looking for.
Squads of police were on standby for trouble and although tempers began to fray, no major incidents were reported.
U2 is scheduled to play the Morumbi soccer stadium — home to world club champions Sao Paulo — Feb. 20 as part of its Vertigo tour.
The organizers issued an apology and said an extra show would be added for the following day.
Self-styled champions of the world’s poor and oppressed, U2 had been criticized by fans for the high price of the tickets. Students could buy tickets for half price but the cheapest full price ticket was 200 reais — about $75, or two-thirds of Brazil’s minimum monthly wage.
The organizers marketed the show through a tie-up with the Pao de Acucar supermarket chain, which is owned jointly by Brazil’s wealthy Diniz family and French company Casino Guichard-Perrachon. Tickets went on sale only at 10 supermarkets in Sao Paulo and two in Rio de Janeiro at 10 a.m. Lines formed before midnight Sunday.
At most outlets, only one cashier was handling the sales and machines broke down, leading to chaos.
The demand was unexpected, Pao de Acucar press officer Paulo Pompilio said.
“There were 73,000 tickets. The demand was much, much more,” Pompilio told Reuters outside the Brigadeiro branch where crowds swirled. “We estimate about 100,000 people want tickets and all were buying the 10 ticket limit.”
Ricardo Luiz Nacedo, a 30-year-old welder, had waited since 4:30 a.m., and by 8 p.m. he was no closer to getting a ticket. “This is the worst. When there’s a soccer game at Morumbi, they sell 70,000 tickets quickly without problem. I love them — this would have been my first time to see them.”
Verna Zula, a 29-year-old physical education teacher, had waited unsuccessfully since 3 a.m.
“I wouldn’t have bothered if I had known it would be like this. When I got here there were 150 people in front of me. None of them have got tickets yet,” she said as the evening wore on.
Fans in line shouted out improvised chants against Abilio Diniz, president of Pao de Acucar, saying in future they would shop at the rival Carrefour.
The situation was complicated by the Brazilian custom of allowing senior citizens, invalids and pregnant women to the front of lines, leading to a bottleneck of uncomfortable looking old folk as well as a number of fit-looking young men on crutches at the shop entrance.