UPDATE: Hot Dub Time Machine will play a free make-up show at Wests NEX on April 12. Ticket-holders from Roche Estate's Wine Machine will be emailed details.
The shows will operate on a first in best dressed basis.
INITIAL REPORT: FESTIVAL-goers have described scenes of mayhem at the Wine Machine event on the weekend, as "angry and aggressive security guards" forced thousands to evacuate a Hunter vineyard.
Organisers of the festival, held at Roche Estate, have copped criticism for the way they handled crowds during the lightning storm which hit the Hunter Valley on Saturday night.
The event was forced to cancel headline act, Hot Dub Time Machine, and usher the Presets off stage when the storm swept in. More than 11,000 attendees ran for cover as heavy rain pounded the region and a mass evacuation of the site began.
"Nobody, apart from those at the front of the stage, could hear the cancellation notification," Lucy Nicholson, who attended the festival, said.
"All we had was angry and aggressive security guards trying to get us out from under any shelter we could find and throw us out of the venue into an open carpark and onto the road."
Festival-goer Carla Hopkins said when she was trying to find shelter from the storm she headed towards a covered area that operated as the VIP zone.
"Everyone was trying to push down the barricade into the VIP area," she said.
"Security guards were very rude and rough, pushing the barricade back into many people.
Megan Hammond said many people found themselves stranded on the road, trying desperately to get home.
"We were not provided with any shelter or help, people were running for their lives to find somewhere to shelter out of the storm.
"My friends and I literally hid under a table but were then forced off the grounds by security.
"Once out on the road in the middle of no where, people were frantically trying to find lifts home."
Festival-goers have taken to social media to voice outrage at the way they were abruptly made to leave, finding themselves stranded on a country road in the middle of the storm.
"Security were very aggressive, we were mushed out by horses. We were scared and seeking shelter and instead we were forced into the storm," one person wrote.
Another said "you legitimately shoved thousands of people out on to roads in the middle of an electrical storm, when Roche Estate had perfectly fine shelter that we could have used."
"So dangerous and beyond scary watching people trying to huddle down a pitch black road."
Others reported having to seek shelter in toilet cubicles and earlier issues in the day including long bar queues, poor sound quality and forced card transactions at the cashless event.
Festival organisers have since released a statement in response to the complaints.
"As those in attendance well know, the Hunter Valley last night experienced an extreme weather system that included torrential rain and a high multitude of lightning strikes within close proximity causing an initial show stop and eventual evacuation of the event.
"This sucked for every single person on site!
"The safety of all patrons, artists and staff is of absolute priority. Evacuations of this nature are never pleasant. If you have feedback on the method by which police and or security managed this please email the WM team at email@example.com and we will come back to you personally."
In response to the complaints about long bar lines, organisers blamed severe licensing conditions and staffing issues from bar operators Prime Collective which included two mini-buses carrying 32 staff not arriving at the festival due to an unnamed "incident whilst en route from Sydney".
Organisers have also promised a makeup show for headline act Hot Dub Time Machine "who is hoping to throw a complimentary make-up show for those disappointed he didn't get to play".
The Presets were the final act to play and were forced from the stage as organisers paused the event to assess the rapidly deteriorating weather situation, before the cancellation call was made.
The wild weather also forced Bryan Adams off stage at Bimbadgen during the final minutes of his performance. Cessnock was the worst-hit area during the wild weather, with the SES receiving more than 20 calls for assistance.
UPDATE: Hot Dub Time Machine will play a free make-up show at Wests NEX on April 12. Ticket-holders from Roche Estate's Wine Machine will be emailed details soon on how to register for the show.
Wine machine organisers have since released the following updated statement:
"Over the weekend 11,000 patrons attended the Wine Machine event at Roche Estate in the Hunter Valley. Toward the end of the event, personnel in the event control centre who had been monitoring weather all day were made aware of an extreme storm cell rapidly approaching the event. The decision to evacuate was made in consultation with event medical, safety, police and emergency services officers and evacuation procedures were initiated circa 2130, 90 minutes prior to the scheduled end of the event after The Presets performance but prior to Hot Dub Time Machine's performance.
The extreme weather system included torrential rain and a high multitude of lightning strikes within close proximity. The safety of all patrons, artists, and staff is of absolute priority. Evacuations of this nature in such extreme conditions are never pleasant. If you have feedback on the method by which police and or security managed this please email the WM team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will come back to you personally. We take reports of over aggressive behaviour very seriously and will investigate accordingly.
We must also address bar lines earlier in the day. It must be noted the venue Roche Estate was a dry hire and not responsible for the bars. There were a number of external operators managing the event. Due to the current climate in NSW, severe licensing conditions were placed upon the event limiting drinks to two per person causing unacceptable congestion at the bars. Adding to this were staffing issues from our external bar operators Prime Collective who've issued the following statement:
Whilst licensing restrictions played a significant role in bar congestion at the Wine Machine NSW event, we must unreservedly apologise for our role in this and take full responsibility. Two of our staffing mini-buses carrying 32 staff were reportedly involved in an incident whilst en route from Sydney resulting in bars being under staffed.
We are currently investigating the circumstances of this and following up on the conditions of those staff involved. If you would like further information on this or the licensing restrictions please email us: email@example.com and we will come back to you.
Event medical, police and safety officers have commended the attendees of the event for an otherwise very well behaved crowd with minimal presentations and detections for an event of this size.
Lastly, stay tuned for an announcement from Hot Dub Time Machine who is planning to throw a complimentary make-up show for those disappointed he didn't get to play."
Did you attend the festival? Tell us about your experience by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org