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Wish you were here?

Forty years ago, if you’d showed up to a music festival, the coat you were wearing would also have served as your sleeping bag. And your tent.

But times change and the festival experience has had to change too. Forget about glamping – Eamonn Forde takes a tongue-in-cheek look at ten of the most eye-popping VIP package choices on the market…

Name: Secret Solstice
Location: Iceland
Price: US$1 million (€882,000) for six people
Headliners Radiohead may have pioneered the pay-what-you-want model, but the price here is non-negotiable. For that wallet-trembling price you get all manner of things – starting with “business jet transport from anywhere on Earth” (return, luckily) on a Gulfstream G300 “or similar”, two private concerts, and access to ultra-VIP areas, if mixing with the hoi polloi is too much to bear. There’s also access to shows in a glacier (a glacier!) and a volcano (a volcano!) and helicopter trips. You do get a lot for your money and if you’ve ever tried to buy a round of drinks in Reykjavik, suddenly $1m doesn’t seem that expensive.

Name: Desert Trip
Location: Indio, California, US
Price: $10,000 (€8,820) for two people
The line-up is not what you’d call underwhelming (the Rolling Stones, Dylan, The Who, Paul McCartney, Neil Young and Roger Waters), so at a once-in-a-lifetime festival, you can’t be expected to rough it. For your ten grand, you get to sleep in an exclusive area in a Shikar tent that has actual beds and, incredibly, air conditioning. While waiting for the artists to get out of their bath chairs, you can go to cocktail and craft beer tasting sessions and then slump, content, into outdoor chairs to listen to the songs that defined the counterculture, aimed as they were at the freaks and misfits who railed against pernicious mainstream cooption. Oh…

 


Read the rest of this feature in issue 66 of IQ


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‘Bikini ban’ for concerts in Israel

Israel is to introduce a dress code for performers at some live events following a ‘disrespectful’ performance by singer Hanna Goor at the Hagaugust festival in Ashdod last Friday.

Goor, a former contestant on Israeli singing contest Kokhav Nolad (A Star is Born), was asked to leave the stage after the Ministry of Culture and Sport, which funded the festival, ruled her attire – a bikini top, open shirt and shorts – did not “respect the general public that attended the show”.

In response, the ministry has announced it will issue guidelines to production companies working with it on taxpayer-funded concerts as to how ‘modestly’ performers should dress. “Festivals and events funded by public money will respect the general public, which includes different communities,” it said in a statement.

Although culture ministry officials deny Goor’s performance – which lasted just three songs – was cut short, the singer told Haaretz she was asked, mid-performance, to “get dressed”. When she refused, she says, “they took me down [from the stage]”.

“It wasn’t a provocation but simply a matter of comfort. It’s summer, it’s hot and we were at the beach”

Speaking to local newspaper Ashdodnet, she elaborated: “It wasn’t a provocation but simply a matter of comfort. It’s summer, it’s hot and we were at the beach.”

In an editorial, Haaretz accused culture minister Miri Regez of overstepping her remit in attempting to speak for “the entire public” and called the new dress code “the mirror image of France’s unconstitutional burkini law”, in reference to the attempted ban of the Islamic swimsuit, which covers almost the entire body, in a number of French cities.

Regev’s ministry, however, is keen to highlight a difference between “freedom of expression and freedom of funding”, inferring that no such ban will be extended to events not funded with government money.

Israel is defined in its declaration of independence as a “Jewish state”, though its founding father, David Ben-Gurion, was a atheist and a 2015 Gallup survey found 65% of Israelis described themselves as either “not religious” or “convinced atheists”. However, tensions exist between haredi (‘ultra-orthodox’) Jews – who dress conservatively, practice gender segregation and often even refuse to recognise Israel itself – and secular or non-religious Jews. Haredim, who make up 10% of Israel’s population, exert significant influence on Israeli public life, with their Shas party having been consistently in governing coalitions for over 30 years.

 


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Govt fund ‘to thank’ for strong summer in France

France’s minister for culture, Audrey Azoulay, has praised the “exceptional” ticket sales for the country’s music festivals this summer, the “vast majority” of which, she says, “have seen their attendance rise” in spite of challenges posed by fears of further terror incidents in Europe.

Azoulay (pictured) attributes the strong attendance and lack of cancellations after attacks in Paris and Nice, as well as in Belgium and Germany, to a strong police response and the fund set up by the French government to help festivals with security costs, which Aline Renet of industry association Prodiss tells IQ amounts to “around €7 million”.

Speaking to Radio France, Azoulay said many festivals were considering cancellation but “our response has been […] to help them to survive. We mobilised the public security forces – who I want to thank – and launched a support fund, [which] is still in credit. Many festivals have used this fund.”

“Our response has been to help festivals to survive. We mobilised the security forces and launched a support fund, which is still in credit”

Echoing Live Nation France’s head of festivals, Armel Campagna, who told IQ in July “people don’t mind the [extra] security” and that “people were actually cheering on the police at the [Main Square] site!”, Azoulay said festivalgoers have been largely receptive to the increased police presence, with the Aurillac street theatre festival – where clashes broke out between security forces and festival attendees – being the only event to see any trouble.

The minister’s remarks follow IQ’s earlier analysis of the French festival market, when Renet revealed “all major festivals [so far this summer] have increased their attendances”.

 


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Pill testing at Australian festival ‘this summer’

A harm-reduction advocate has said there will be pill testing at an Australian music festival this summer, despite no government body or police force having given their backing to the scheme.

In an interview with Triple J’s Hack radio programme, Unharm founder Will Tregoning said he believes “we will see drug checking or pill testing in Australia this year”, probably “in the ACT” (Australian Capital Territory, the region that includes capital city Canberra). Tregoning, along with Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation president Alex Wodak and Canberran doctor David Caldicott, previously mooted the introduction of pill testing at a festival in New South Wales (NSW) – where three people died after consuming drugs at Stereosonic festival in November – but were told by NSW police and the state government they risked prosecution for drug supply and manslaughter.

Tregoning (pictured) now says drug testing “won’t happen in NSW” but at a festival in Canberra instead. Asked by Hack if he meant the new Spilt Milk festival in December, Tregoning said he could also be referring to Groovin the Moo, where two teenagers were admitted to hospital after suffering suspected drug overdoses at the last event in April.

“Canberra doesn’t have the biggest festival, but there’s an opportunity to prove this is a viable and effective thing that can really work,” he said. “All these things that people come up with about how we can’t possibly do this in Australia can easily be disproved by showing this can be done.”

“Pill testing is being used in at least 10 countries around the world… we know it’s working”

“Pill testing is being used in at least 10 countries around the world,” he adds. “Absolutely we know it’s working.”

However, the ACT government maintains pill testing is “not a government-endorsed approach” and says possession of drugs remains a criminal offence.

Front-of-house pill testing – in which drugs are tested with the cooperation of police and local authorities to ensure they don’t contain any potentially fatal adulterants – is already in force at events in the UK, Netherlands, Austria, Spain and more. Earlier this month Ground Control Productions managing director Jon Drape, whose clients include the Parklife Weekender, Kendal Calling, Festival №6 and Snowbombing, told IQ allowing such testing at more festivals is a “no-brainer”: “Drugs will get onto the site, so it’s our responsibility to make sure people remain safe,” he said.

 


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Avicii plays “final gig ever” at Ushuaïa [video]

Avicii, the 26-year-old EDM superstar who earlier this year announced his retirement from touring, played his final show on Sunday, bringing to a close an impressive live career that has seen him break attendance records at clubs and festivals across the globe and contributed to an estimated fortune of US$85 million.

The Swedish DJ’s swansong performance was at the Ushuaïa Beach Hotel in Ibiza (5,000-cap.) – voted the eighth-best club in the world earlier this year – on Sunday 28 August, with support from KSHMR, Seeb, Albin Myers and Mambo Brothers. Footage from the historic show can be seen in the user-shot videos below:

https://twitter.com/Bellathorne_73/status/770225092743667712

Following the announcement of his intention to retire from live performance, IQ wrote in March that Avicii – real name Tim Bergling – has been a “key figure in the transformation of plain ol’ dance music to the global, arena-filling mainstream phenomenon that is ‘EDM’ [electronic dance music] and his retirement will surely be keenly felt by dance promoters and venue and festival owners across the world”. Highlights from Bergling’s live career include breaking a number of attendance records (including at XS in Las Vegas and Mawazine Festival in Rabat) and shifting the most-ever tickets for a tour by a solo DJ, on his debut headline tour of Australia.

In an open letter announcing his retirement, the DJ said he will “never let go of music”, opening the door for a continued recording career, but has made it clear the Ushuaïa show was his “final gig ever”.

 


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Rock in Rio’s Lazarini joins LN in South America

Rafael Lazarini, formerly head of business development at Rock in Rio promoter Rock World, has joined Live Nation in the same capacity with responsibility for South America.

Lazarini will be based in Rio de Janeiro and report to John Hopman’s, Live Nation’s executive vice-president of business development, working to build the company’s “profile and scope in this emerging region”, says Live Nation.

“It’s a great honour to join Live Nation and help build the business in these important markets”

“It’s a great honour to join Live Nation and help build the business in these important markets,” he comments. “South Americans have proven to be avid consumers of live entertainment and the market there has been expanding faster than the global average. Ongoing improvements in infrastructure, technology and standards of living have set the stage for rapid growth in media and entertainment and Live Nation’s core event business.”

Prior to working at Rock World, Lazarini served as chief marketing officer and head of business development and Head of Business Development at IMX Sports and Entertainment, where he led a series of acquisitions and developments, including negotiations with IMG, Cirque du Soleil and AEG.

 


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Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa to play CoD fan event

Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa have been announced as joint musical headliners for Call of Duty XP 2016, a fan convention for the Call of Duty (CoD) video-game franchise.

The rappers will close the event on Sunday 4 September at The Forum arena (17,505-cap.) in Inglewood, California, following in the footsteps of Kanye West, who headlined the last CoD XP in 2011.

“Call of Duty XP is the ultimate Call of Duty fan experience,” says Rob Kostich, executive vice-president and general manager for Call of Duty at publisher Activision. “It’s going to be an amazing time for our fans, even more so now with Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa there to cap this epic, multi-day event.”

“It’s going to be an amazing time for our fans, even more so now with Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa there to cap this epic, multi-day event”

Call of Duty XP 2016 will also feature the Call of Duty World League Championship (first prize: US$2 million) and the world première of the multiplayer mode for new game Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.

According to Statistic Brain, over 252 million Call of Duty games have been sold worldwide since 2003.

Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa are currently co-headlining the Merry Jane/Live Nation-promoted High Road tour, which will stop at the Sunlight Supply Amphitheater (18,000-cap.) in Ridgefield, Washington, tomorrow.

 


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Every Tragically Hip record charts

All 17 albums by The Tragically Hip – including compilations, live album Live Between Us and their 1987 self-titled EP – have charted in Canada following the conclusion on 20 August of the band’s farewell Man Machine Poem tour.

The Hip’s final live performance at the Rogers K-Rock Centre (6,700-cap.) in Kingston, Ontario, was viewed by nearly 12 million Canadians – close to a third of the country – following state broadcaster CBC’s decision to show their emotional three-hour farewell set in full. Prime minister Justin Trudeau was among those in attendance for the show itself, described by one attendee as the “greatest single thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life”.

Unique in a week when new Frank Ocean release Blond has dominated both charts and column inches worldwide, The Tragically Hip’s greatest hits package, Yer Favourites, has unseated the Suicide Squad soundtrack to take the top spot in Canada, with 16 other releases also placing in Billboard’s Top 200 Canadian Albums chart, including most recent album Man Machine Poem at №6.

It is the first time Yer Favourites, which saw a 238% increase in consumption in the past week, has topped the chart.

The 15-date, Live Nation-promoted Man Machine Poem tour, announced in the aftermath of the diagnosis of frontman Gord Downie with terminal brain cancer, ran from 22 July to 20 August.

 


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Schwenkow signals further UK expansion for DEAG

Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG), the parent company of Kilimanjaro Live and classical music promoter Raymond Gubbay Ltd, has signalled its intention to acquire further UK subsidiaries to bolster its presence in a market that remains “highly attractive” despite Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union.

In its financial results for the first half of 2016 (H1), Peter LH Schwenkow, chairman of the German concert/festival promoter and ticket agent, praised “better-than-expected” growth from its British subsidiaries and said, “despite ‘Brexit’, the English market remains highly attractive to DEAG”, adding that he is “examining opportunistic acquisition opportunities” in the UK.

Schwenkow (pictured) says he expects “continued dynamic growth” in the UK in 2017, chiefly from “six major rock tours [currently] in preparation”.

“The English market remains highly attractive to DEAG, which is why the company is examining opportunistic acquisition opportunities there”

The Berlin-based company also revealed that its myticket.de business (which also operates in the UK as myticket.co.uk) will be entering a third European country “in the near future”. DEAG’s ticketing arm was a key driver of growth in Q1 2016, when it returned to profit following a loss of €23 million in 2015, mostly attributable to its investment in a number of new festivals in Germany and Austria.

Despite an H1 loss of €3.8 million (“in line with expectations due to seasonal effects”) DEAG is confident of finishing 2016 on a high, predicting earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of €3–5m from a “very well-filled event pipeline and exceptionally strong fourth quarter”.

 


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Sydney venues celebrate lock-out laws win

Sydney venues are to be exempt from New South Wales’s controversial ‘lock-out laws’, the Australian state’s supreme court has ruled.

Lock-out laws were introduced by the New South Wales (NSW) government in 2014 and require that music venues, nightclubs, bars and hotels lock their doors at 1.30am and not serve drinks past 3.00 in a bid to curb alcohol-related violence. The legislation has been attacked by a number of prominent Australians as illogical and damaging to the music industry, with Freelancer.com founder Matt Barrie, one of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs, blaming the state government for “the total and utter destruction of Sydney’s nightlife”.

“Lock-out laws are not a proper exercise of the regulation-making power conferred upon the governor”

Following a legal challenge brought by The Smoking Panda bar (pictured), the Supreme Court of New South Wales found last week the state’s justice department lacked the authority to subject to the city to the 1.30 curfew, reports The Daily Telegraph. While tourist areas and hotels are exempt from the lock-outs, The Smoking Panda’s exemption was cancelled after an investigation found some bar patrons were not hotel guests.

In addition to live music venues, Supreme Court judge Natalie Adams also ruled strip clubs should be exempt, stating the laws are “not a proper exercise of the regulation-making power conferred upon the governor [of New South Wales]”. Lock-out laws continue to apply to other establishments.

 


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