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Another SFX festival bites the dust as Stereosonic cancelled

The one-day, five-city EDM extravaganza will not go ahead in 2016, says promoter (and major SFX Entertainment creditor) Totem OneLove

By Jon Chapple on 07 Apr 2016

Stereosonic 2010, Sydney, MissMelbourne

Crowds at Stereosonic 2010 at Sydney Showgrounds


image © MissMelbourne/Wikimedia Commons

Australia has lost another major music festival as dance music event Stereosonic has confirmed it will not go ahead in 2016.

The festival – promoted by SFX Entertainment-owned Totem OneLove Group, which at last count was owed US$10.7 million by its bankrupt parent company – is the second SFX event canned since its going into administration on 1 February, after US Tomorrowland spin-off TomorrowWorld, which was called off early last month.

However, like TomorrowWorld, Stereosonic has only said it won’t take place this year: In a post on its Facebook page, the festival said Totem OneLove “is currently working on bringing Stereosonic fans the best festival experience possible. As part of this, we are taking a hiatus during 2016. However, we will return in 2017, bigger and better.”

Whether Stereosonic will, in fact, return bigger and better next year will largely depend on Totem OneLove’s financial health.

As one of SFX’s largest creditors the formerly independent promoter is invested in Robert Sillerman’s ailing conglomerate in a big way. However, legal documents filed in America on 4 April and seen by theMusic.com.au reveal while a number of other SFX festivals, including Mysteryland and, surprisingly, TomorrowWorld, have been granted relief to pay artists from SFX’s stringent post-bankruptcy spending restrictions – SFX must seek approval from a US bankruptcy court before spending a cent – no such agreement has been reached for Stereosonic.

While a number of other festivals have been granted relief from SFX’s stringent post-bankruptcy spending restrictions to pay artists, no such agreement has been reached for Stereosonic

According to festival co-founder Richie McNeill, Stereosonic remains profitable: As fellow co-founder Dror Erez and two other directors, James Beatty and Amanda Hough, resigned from Totem OneLove on 2 February, the day after SFX filed for bankruptcy, he said Stereosonic 2015 saw “a profit increase from the previous year, so there’s no problems on this end” and that the SFX situation “doesn’t affect us”.

Some news outlets are reporting that Stereosonic’s reputation for drug-fuelled excess also contributed to its cancellation. After the 2015 event, which saw at least three people die and 120 more need hospital treatment, South Australian senator Nick Xenophon called for an inquiry into the policing of the festivals, which he said were “awash with pills”.

McNeill countered that he’s “sick of seeing festival organisers being blamed for the idiot, stupid behaviour of narrow-minded individuals that are taking poison, that are poisoning themselves with these cheap, shitty drugs”.

A new Totem OneLove trance festival, Atlantis – The City of Titans, went ahead as planned in Sydney and Melbourne in mid-March.

Other recent festival cancellations in Australia include Future Music, which was scrapped indefinitely by Frontier Touring-owned promoter Mushroom Group in April 2015, AJ Maddah’s Soundwave, which was cancelled in December 2015, a month before it was due to kick off, and Big Day Out, which was bought then promptly shut down by Live Nation’s C3 Presents in June 2014.

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