Overview: these acts replaced canceling headliners

Panic in Werchter. Nothing has been officially announced yet, but Metallica’s performance on Friday of Rock Werchter 2022 is in doubt after the band had to cancel a performance in Switzerland due to a covid infection. There is therefore already much speculation about possible scenarios. How did those last-minute headliner replacements play out in the past?

The general tendency is that headliners who cancel so last minute are never really replaced by an act of equal size or something that comes close. That is simply not feasible. In almost all cases, an act that was already on the bill moves on, and another (local) name is added earlier in the day.

The Strokes

Primavera Sound 2022: The Strokes cancel

Result: Caribou moves on / Mogwai joins

To start with a recent and similar example: in June this year, The Strokes had to cancel their performance at Primavera Sound 2022 in Barcelona a day in advance. The act was one of the biggest on the bill, so that hit fans hard. The festival said in a statement that they have really tried everything to find a replacement, but that because of “the” post-pandemic context both plan A, plan B and many plans C failed”.

Primavera Sound therefore had no choice but to move with the acts they already had on the bill at that time. Caribou, which was supposed to be on the second stage, ended up in the headline slot on the main stage. Mogwai was also added a little lower on the bill.

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Photo credit: Ross Halfin

Frauenfeld Rocks 2022: Metallica shows af

Result: Five Finger Death Punch moves on, other acts play longer

The gig it’s all about: Metallica at Frauenfeld Rocks will be canceled on Wednesday, June 29, on the day itself due to a covid infection in the ‘Metallica family’. It’s too last minute to arrange anything, so we simply move on with acts that are already on the poster.

Five Finger Death Punch, which were supposed to perform before Metallica, will be the headliner of the day. The acts play a little longer and the time schedule is adjusted. Ticket holders can choose to request their money back, or decide to come for a discount of 50 euros. A ticket was originally 140 euros.

dave grohldave grohl

Pinkpop and Rock Werchter 2015: Foo Fighters cancels

Pinkpop: Triggerfinger falls in / Pharrell Williams becomes headliner

Frontman Dave Grohl breaks his leg during a performance in Gothenburg, Sweden, two days before the planned performance at Pinkpop 2015. Jan Smeets reacts in an interview with 3FM that really everyone who is on tour has been called, including Paul McCartney. At 3voor12, Smeets also says that he tried to arrange The Prodigy. According to another (internal) source, calls have also been made to Pearl Jam and Lenny Kravitz. In the end, Triggerfinger is roped in. Since the Belgian band also gives a concert in Groningen in the evening, Triggerfinger will be given the afternoon time slot of De Jeugd van Nowadays, which then moves on to Pharrell Williams’ subheadliner spot. And with that Pharrell Pinkpop closes 2015.

Rock Werchter: Royal Blood and Faith No More fall in

Werchter comes up with another solution for canceling Dave Grohl and co. The festival features rock duo Royal Blood twice during the festival. It doesn’t stop there. The festival also books Faith No More. They provide the open headline slot of the festival. Rock Werchter had to struggle a lot to get that done: they had a special private plane fly from Oslo to Werchter to get the band in.

Pinkpop 2009: Depeche Mode cancels

Result: Placebo moves on / Krezip added

On May 28, 2009, the management of Depeche Mode announced that the performance at Pinkpop on May 30 can not take place due to illness of the singer. Jan Smeets says in a radio broadcast that an attempt has been made to secure Oasis and The Prodigy, but to no avail. It almost seems that Live is replacing the band, but due to a passport issue with one of the band members, that last minute is canceled either. Finally, Krezip shows up. Subheadliner Placebo is promoted to headliner.

Pukkelpop 2013: Neil Young cancels

Outcome: Major Lazer new as new

Pukkelpop had eight days in 2013 to find a replacement for Neil Young & Crazy Horse. After an accident, Young has to cancel all performances. Six days later – two days before the performance – Pukkelpop comes with a replacement act: Major Lazer.

david bowiedavid bowie

Rock Werchter 2004: David Bowie cancels

Will be replaced by: 2 Many DJs

Just a week before David Bowie would play at Rock Werchter 2004, he had to cancel all his performances by the doctor’s orders. On Roskilde the man is replaced by Slipknot, a number of other festivals arrange The Cure. After a long search, Rock Werchter has the Belgians of 2 Many DJs flown in. They were actually in Lisbon that day for the final of the European Football Championship. 2 Many DJs create a legendary moment by playing the Bowie-classic ‘Rebel Rebel’ as the first track.

Pinkpop 2007: Amy Winehouse cancels

To be replaced by: Krezip

Amy Winehouse headlined the then John Peel Stage at Pinkpop 2007. She canceled her performance on the day itself. Rumors of an alcohol surplus are quickly circulating. Jacqueline Govaert and co. are summoned to take over her mockery. Krezip eventually headlines the tent on the Saturday of Pinkpop 2007.

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Rock Werchter 2022


Werchter, Belgium

June 30 – July 3, 2022


Completely sold out.