Psy concerts investigated over Covid claims
South Korean authorities are investigating claims that Psy’s water-spraying concerts could be contributing to the spread of Covid-19.
The Gangnam Style singer’s Summer Swag tour came under fire earlier this summer for allegedly wasting water during a nationwide drought.
First held in 2011, the popular shows involve audience members being drenched in water as they sing along to the music, but attracted criticism after it was revealed that each gig uses around 300 tons of water.
“We use the performance venue’s water supplies as well as sprinkler trucks,” Psy told talk show Radio Star.
“We have launched an investigation to see what kind of actions are taking place during the event that could be risk factors in transmitting the virus”
Now, with Korea in the midst of a Covid spike, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters says it has received reports from people claiming they have contracted coronavirus after attending the shows.
“We have launched an investigation to see what kind of actions are taking place during the event that could be risk factors in transmitting the virus,” a spokesperson tells Korea JoongAng Daily.
Music promoters are being urged not to spray water during events while the claims are looked into.
In response to the concerns, Psy’s label P Nation says it will hand waterproof masks to each concert-goer at his upcoming Korean tour dates in Yeosu (6 August), Daegu (13-14 August) and Busan (20 August).
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Video screen falls on dancers at Hong Kong concert
A dancer for Cantopop boy band Mirror is in intensive care after a giant video screen fell on him during a concert in Hong Kong.
Mo Lee Kai-yin, 27, is in a critical condition with injuries to his cervical vertebrae, head and lungs following the incident at Hong Kong Coliseum last night (28 July), reports the South China Morning Post.
A second injured dancer, 29-year-old Chang Tsz-fung, was also taken to hospital but has since been discharged.
“From initial observation, a wire fractured and led to the fall of the screen and caused the dancers to be injured,” says Hong Kong’s culture secretary Kevin Yeung, as per CNN.
“We will embark on a very detailed investigation”
“We will embark on a very detailed investigation with support of relevant departments and some professionals to make sure we delve deep into the cause of the incident. It is our responsibility and determination to ensure a similar incident will not happen again.”
Mirror’s management MakerVille and show organiser Music Nation say they are working with authorities and the contractor and subcontractors behind the stage structures to establish what went wrong.
In a Facebook statement, MakerVille apologises for “unease to viewers or others affected” and confirm refunds will be given to ticket-holders.
The performance was part of a scheduled 12-concert run by the 12-member band, who formed in 2018. The remaining shows in the series have been cancelled.
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The LGBTIQ+ List 2022: Georgie Lanfranchi, Only Helix
The LGBTIQ+ List 2022 – IQ Magazine’s second annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the Pride edition (issue 112) this month.
The July 2022 issue, which is available to read now, was made possible thanks to support from Ticketmaster.
To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each individual on their challenges, triumphs, advice and more.
Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on the previous interview with David Jones (he/him/his), chief information officer at AEG in the UK.
The series continues with Georgie Lanfranchi (she/her/hers), tour manager/production coordinator at Only Helix in the UK.
Tell us about a personal triumph in your career
I have had the privilege of looking after so many outstanding performers and crew but my journey with Years & Years, growing from being their production coordinator to their tour manger, has been by far the most rewarding of my career. Being queer and working for one of the biggest gay icons of our time is a true honour, especially when it’s someone as talented, authentic, and kind as Olly [Alexander, Years & Years]. He is a truly special individual and that trickles down to make a wonderfully remarkable touring family. Working their set on Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2019 was a real top 10 highlight of my life.
What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
Try your best not to hide who you are. This can often be instinctive for queer people but the industry is changing, opinions are changing and the best way to help drive that forward is to be visible. The more diversity we push forward, the more that follows. The main advice I give to anyone, in general, is to be kind, be a team player and take a moment every day to take in how amazing our jobs really are.
“I actually feel that being a woman is more of a hindrance [than being queer] in this industry”
What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
Without sounding too corny, every mistake I have made is the best mistake, it’s the best way to learn how to do things right. Those cringy, stomach-dropping, mortifying moments that stick with you when you realise you’ve messed up stick with you for a reason. You don’t make those mistakes again! I’ve made a lot of them, and I will make more in the future, and I will be a better learner and teacher for it.
Tell us about a professional challenge you’ve come across as a queer person in the industry
I’ve had to think quite hard about this. I’m not sure I have ever had any challenges specifically because I am queer, as I actually feel that being a woman is more of a hindrance in this industry, but it can be hard to distinguish I suppose, the two are probably quite entwined. I have been incredibly lucky to work on tours that have been very inclusive and with people who have never made it a problem. Don’t get me wrong, I still get a lot of ignorant questions from people that perhaps don’t (knowingly) have queer people in their life, or even bother to think about the answers before they ask the questions, but I’d say you’d be hard pressed to find a queer person that doesn’t!
One thing the live industry could do to be a more inclusive place
There are a lot of incredible people who are creating the spaces they need to feel included within the industry, so get involved! And if you can’t find the space you need, go and make it! I think it’s so wonderful to see the industry changing to represent marginalised groups as a whole, and people are finally starting to feel seen and heard. I think what we really do need to remember to do is not to isolate ourselves within these spaces. The industry itself will not grow if we pocket ourselves into our groups; we need to make sure everyone is included, and everyone supports everyone else’s cause so that we are integrated into the industry at large. This is not a courtesy we have been given in the past, but to move forward, we have to be better.
“The industry itself will not grow if we pocket ourselves into our groups; we need to make sure everyone is included”
Causes you support
Music Support, CALM, The Trevor Project, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, WWF, Rainforest Alliance.
The queer act you’re itching to see live this year
The list is extensive but I’m normally on the road, so I tend not to torture myself looking up gigs I’ll never be able to go to! That is the joy of festival season though; seeing a plethora of artists you never thought you’d get to see. I’ve still yet to see Tash Sultana after their gig got cancelled due to the pandemic… maybe one day!
Your favourite queer space
It will forever be my first queer outing – Flamingos Nightclub in Bristol – which is sadly no more. The first time I went was with two friends, we all told our parents we were going to each other’s houses and hopped on a train with some IDs from girls a couple of school years above us. ‘Drink the bar dry’ was Flamingos trademark, and for £20 we got in and gave that a good go! I felt a real absence of queer spaces growing up, from the countryside towns I grew up in and even the cities I frequented in my university years. It’s so important to keep these spaces going so queer folk have a safe space to go, and a place to find and express themselves. Support your local queer spaces!
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Afropunk founder cancels new US festival LetsGetFr.ee
LetsGetFr.ee, a new US festival celebrating artists of colour, has been cancelled due to a variety of issues.
Conceived by Afropunk founder Matthew Morgan, the festival has been touted as a “radical movement designed for & by Black, Brown, Asian/Pacific Islander, & LGBTQIA+ fr.ee spirits & creator”.
The two-day ‘conscious carnival’ was scheduled to take place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, New York City, in mid-August with artists including Missy Elliot, Anderson .Paak, Ozuna, Wizkid and Jhene Aiko.
“The reason is complex, yet simple: The combination of the shifting dynamics of our industry”
However, LetsGetFr.ee today (29 June) released a statement explaining that the festival’s debut will be pushed back to August 2023: “The reason is complex, yet simple: The combination of the shifting dynamics of our industry, the inflation we’re all feeling and new safety regulations that were recently put in place would have forced us to greatly alter your experience to a smaller, watered-down, inauthentic version.
“And that simply wouldn’t be doing right by the vision, the ambition, our partners and most importantly, you. LetsGetFr.ee was created to do something very different, a first-of-its-kind for the industry, for Queens and for the many vibrant, beautiful communities within and around us. And that’s exactly what we will do.”
Ticketholders have the option to hold on to their original ticket or request a refund. The festival says refunds are scheduled to be processed on or before 15 September.
Paléo Festival revamp pays off amid ‘epic’ return
Paléo Festival booker Dany Hassenstein has spoken to IQ about the revamped event‘s “epic” return, which marked a major turning point in its history.
Held from 19-24 July, the 30,000-cap event in Nyon, Switzerland hosted acts such as Kiss, Sting, DJ Snake, Stromae and Rag’n’Bone Man. Tickets for its first edition since 2019 sold out in record time last December.
“It was an epic return after the break of more than 1,000 days,” Hassenstein tells IQ. “We were sold out way in advance and the festival was a success in every aspect – satisfied visitors, artists and volunteers.”
“We have been overwhelmed by the success of our two new stages”
In what was billed as the festival’s biggest makeover in more than 30 years, organisers introduced of a raft of well-received changes for 2022 including new stages, blockchain ticketing and a cashless payment system. The former Arches and Detour stages were replaced by two new spaces: the Vega stage and the electronic music-focused Belleville venue.
“All improvements made full sense, not a single show was cancelled because of Covid and it looks like our guests were very hungry and thirsty,” smiles Hassenstein.
“We will be able to copy paste all new features to the future. In particular, we have been overwhelmed by the success of our two new stages: Véga and Belleville. We have had fantastic feedback from artists on the infrastructure and the general vibe of the 20,000-capacity Véga Stage.”
“Switzerland is having a fantastic summer”
According to Hassenstein, the only real setback of note involved the pandemic-related dropouts of a number of staff members. “The summer wave was at its peak in Switzerland when we opened the gates,” he says.
Hassenstein says Paléo’s successful comeback reflects the fortunes of the resurgent Swiss industry as a whole since returning from the Covid shutdown.
“I believe Switzerland is having a fantastic summer,” he adds. “All festivals I know are doing better than they expected at the beginning of the season.
“I know this mess-up is not over yet – indoor promoters are still facing existential challenges over the next month, but at least we can see now at festivals that the fans are ready to move forward.”
Subscribers can read IQ‘s report on the Swiss live music market here.
All Things Live promotes Norway’s biggest-ever gig
All Things Live has smashed the attendance record for a concert on Norwegian soil, hosting 60,000 fans at a Rammstein show.
The event took place on Sunday 24 June at Bjerke Travbane in Oslo and was the first-ever concert held at the horse racing track.
The previous attendance record was set by All Things Live subsidiary Atomic Soul with Eminem’s 2018 performance at Oslo Sommertid festival.
The rapper drew around 55,000 fans to the capital’s Voldsløkka sports stadium after tickets sold out in just six minutes.
Commenting on the Rammstein show, All Things Live Norway promoter Mark Vaughan says: “Bjerke Travbane was a fantastic venue to present this massive show. It doesn’t come any bigger than Rammstein and both band and crew were extremely happy after the show.”
All Things Live Norway has secured an exclusive agreement with Bjerke Travbane going forward, which will be the largest capacity arena in Norway.
“We have worked and invested a lot to make this venue compatible for the biggest artists in the world, now we have proved it works and we are looking forward to bringing stadium artists to Norway going forwards!” says Peer Osmundsvaag, All Things Live Norway.
“We are looking forward to bringing stadium artists to Norway going forwards”
News of the record-breaking concert comes as All Things Live announces yet another acquisition.
The private-equity-backed live entertainment group has sealed the deal with Stageway, a leading Norwegian live entertainment group that deals in artist management, booking and promoting.
The Bergen-based group’s activities are conducted via three companies: Stageway Talent, Komon Stageway and Stageway Teater.
Stageway Talent provides booking and promotion services across genres for a roster of more than 30 artists; Komon-Stageway delivers turnkey event solutions for large corporate customers and Stageway Teater produces comedy shows and acts as a management service provider for renowned Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis, among others.
Arne Svare, co-founder and CEO of Stageway, says: “We are so pleased to announce that we are joining forces with All Things Live to accelerate our joint business in Norway, the Nordics and beyond in the coming years. We have been part of the bustling live entertainment industry for four decades and known and respected the team behind All Things Live for years. Together, we will strengthen our offering to artists and customers while delivering even greater experiences for the audience.”
Knut Meiner, chairman and senior consultant of Komon-Stageway, adds: “Everyone in our companies have worked hard to build a strong reputation in the Norwegian market. We are absolutely thrilled to become part of a partnership, which is well-respected and shares our aspiration to grow the business based on deep understanding of the local market and a clear focus on bringing great live entertainment and fantastic corporate events to more people.”
“Stageway is a great business with fantastic talent, strong growth prospects and a perfect fit with our existing operations”
The management team and organisation of Stageway will remain unchanged, and existing contracts and customer relationships will not be affected by All Things Live’s acquisition of Stageway Talent, Komon-Stageway and Stageway Teater. In connection with the transaction, the current owners of the three companies become partners and co-owners of All Things Live.
“Stageway is a great business with fantastic talent, strong growth prospects and a perfect fit with our existing operations in All Things Live Norway. We are very pleased to welcome the great people behind Stageway who will contribute greatly to the development of our partnership in Norway and internationally,” says Kim Worsøe, member of the executive board of All Things Live Group.
Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval by the Norwegian Competition Authority. The parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price.
All Things Live has been on an acquisition spree in the past fortnight, this week enhancing its presence in Belgium with the addition of management company Musickness.
Last week, All Things Live signalled its expansion into the Italian market with the acquisition of promoter and agency Radar Concerti and also recently announced the signing of international management firm Then We Take The World.
All Things Live was established in 2018 as “the new independent market leader in Nordic live entertainment” following Waterland Private Equity’s acquisition of six leading Scandinavian promoters and agencies.
French indie promoter targets international acts
French promoter Take Me Out has launched new indie night They’re Gonna Be Big (TGBB), which is dedicated to giving emerging international acts their first show in Paris and securing them a place on the company’s roster.
Take Me Out officially launched in early 2022 as a collaboration between concert organiser Speakeasy and Paris rock club Supersonic, which hosts the recurring theme night.
Run by live music industry veteran Jean-Louis Schell, Speakeasy worked with acts such as The Libertines and Kasabian, while Supersonic has welcomed the likes of Yungblud, The Warlocks, Nick Olivieri and Soccer Mommy.
“The idea behind Take Me out is to build on the strengths of both companies to spot talent early on and book their gigs on French territory,” Schell told IQ earlier this year. “The plan is to take artists way beyond small-sized venues such as the Supersonic.”
“The plans are to organise five to six nights a year”
TGBB hosts five bands over two stages: the 300-cap club and 140-cap Supersonic record store two doors down. Recent acts have included English Teacher, Memes, Courting, Pale Blue Eyes and Honeyglaze.
The club night returns on 24 August with Jaws The Shark, Hallan and The Rills, with more names to be announced.
“The plans are to organise five to six nights a year, depending on the opportunities,” says Schell. “The Supersonic and Take Me Out warmly welcome suggestions.”
ASM partners with AI-based security scanning system
ASM Global has announced a partnership with Evolv Technology, a leader in weapons detection security screening.
The implementation of the “state-of-the-art technology” is said to enhance venue safety and security at ASM venues, as well as improve the customer experience by reducing queues and offering a seamless and swift arrival to the venue.
AO Arena (cap. 21,000), operated by ASM, is the first arena in Europe to use Evolv’s technology as part of a £50m investment into Manchester’s iconic venue.
The venue has been using AI-based threat detection screening system, Evolv Express, to screen guests as they arrive at the arena for events, without the need to stop or remove items from their pockets or policy-compliant bags.
So far, the system has been used for eight shows and welcomed over 54,000 guests with a full roll-out planned for September.
As part of the new partnership, ASM Global has been working closely with Evolv to ensure the technology has been tested to government standards in both the UK and US, as well as collaborating on further improvements and continuous development.
“We are planning a further roll out to other venues in Europe as part of our VenueShield programme”
Evolv Express uses powerful sensor technology with proven artificial intelligence (AI) to provide safer, more accurate threat detection at unprecedented volumes and speed of entry. Venue ingress data provided by Evolv’s analytics also helps venues to transform the way in which they plan their security staff and wider operations.
In an industry first, security professionals can use historical and real-time screening data to gain insights and to make predictions about throughput, with the goal of improving the guest experience while making the space more secure.
Peter George, CEO, Evolv Technology, says: “We are thrilled to partner with ASM Global to provide an enhanced security posture for AO Arena while making sure the guest experience is truly enhanced. With this partnership, AO Arena joins other iconic venues secured by Evolv, including Lincoln Center and Gillette Stadium in the US. As we continue to expand globally, we look forward to working with ASM to help bring safer venues and better experiences to more people.”
Gary Simpson, director of safety security and risk for ASM Global, adds: “We have been working with Evolv for over two years supporting the testing and development of the Evolv Express system. The detection technology has been used for some time in America but this is the first such deployment at an arena in Europe. Given the positive experience at the AO Arena, Manchester we are planning a further roll out to other venues in Europe as part of our VenueShield programme.”
Evolv operates as part of ASM Global’s VenueShield, the company’s safety and security programme. Evolv marks the first addition to VenueShield since Covid as security and safety turn to new technologies to keep customers safe and to future-proof venues.
Crowd safety: Show stoppages rise post Astroworld
Crowd management specialists have spoken to IQ about the post-Astroworld rise in artists temporarily stopping shows due to fan safety concerns.
Last November’s tragedy in Houston, Texas, in which 10 people were killed following a crowd surge during Travis Scott’s closing set, appears to have prompted an enhanced level of vigilance from performers.
High-profile acts such as Adele, Paul McCartney and Billie Eilish have all briefly halted gigs in the last few weeks after being alerted to apparent medical emergencies in the audience, while Scott paused a New York concert earlier this month when he spotted fans climbing a lighting truss by the stage.
“We don’t know really how much of it was taking place beforehand for certain, but both venues and crowd managers are reporting an increase since Astroworld,” says Gentian Events founder Eric Stuart. “That is not a surprise though; it’s in the minds of the artists, for which we should all be grateful and hope it remains there.”
Crowded space expert Professor Chris Kemp elaborates on the shift in mindset that has occurred.
“It is not a new thing that artists, promoters, production reps, floor and barrier staff work together to keep the crowd safe,” he says. “But it is new that many more artists are understanding that they have a duty of care alongside everyone else for the audience.”
“We are seeing some more extreme behaviours and responses from crowds since we left Covid lockdown, making them more vulnerable”
Stuart, who also chairs the Global Crowd Management Alliance (GCMA), believes a combination of factors is driving the trend.
“Some of them are human heuristic tendencies or biases that make us – and that includes artists – focus on recent, high profile, high impact activity,” he tells IQ. “Astroworld fits all of those criteria. So there are some natural human elements to this for the artists. However, we are also seeing some more extreme behaviours and responses from crowds since we left Covid lockdown, making them more vulnerable.
“As well as some crowds being short tempered and intolerant, there is also an enhanced feeling of euphoria that may – I repeat, may – be leading to more medical events, fainting, etc, so there may be more need for artists to respond as well as more awareness of it.
“I emphasise may, because we don’t really have the empirical evidence, just plenty of anecdotal evidence from experienced people saying it is the case and frankly, we need to trust our instincts and our people on this.”
“We are still fighting with artists who encourage the public to join in mosh pits and don’t consider the risks”
Pascal Viot, safety chief for Switzerland’s Paleo Festival Nyon, urges all performers to treat their audiences with care.
“We are still fighting with artists who encourage the public to join in mosh pits, ‘walls of death’ and pogoing, and don’t consider the risks,” he tells IQ. “That is a real issue with fragile audiences.”
Singling out Billie Eilish for praise, Viot says the festival can collaborate with acts to make sure the crowd movement generated during their performances is under control. He also reveals discussions were held with Yourope Event Safety (YES) Group ahead of the 2022 season to educate artists and work together to provide the safest possible concert conditions.
Paleo sent a festival security rider to artists’ representatives this year, detailing the show stop procedure along with other safety elements.
“Show pauses or stops are complex matters that need very careful management”
Stuart stresses that show stops present additional issues from a crowd management perspective.
“Show pauses or stops – particularly the restart – are complex matters that need very careful management,” he says. “The awareness is very welcome, but the uneducated, unanticipated and unmanaged show stop is a challenge. Some of these show ‘pauses’ are absolutely essential, but some seem to have been generated by relatively minor, everyday incidents that security and medical teams just get on with.
“Certainly, one incident in a theatre in Vancouver led to a 20-minute show stop for a ‘faint’ which led to impatience and disorder in a crowd and soon afterwards, fighting on the balcony. That led to real risks for those bystanders on and below the balcony, but also for staff who had to intervene.”
Spearheaded by the United Kingdom Crowd Management Association (UKCMA), the Event Safety Alliance (ESA) and Event Safety Alliance Canada (ESAC), the GCMA was launched in December 2021 to “promote reasonable crowd management and crowd safety practices worldwide”.
“Artists have a vital role to play but, if they say the wrong thing, it could make matters far worse”
“If artists want to help, they should speak to the teams charged with crowd safety at the event first-hand. Not through agents or managers, but actually ask what is needed or expected of them in an emergency,” continues Stuart. “They have a vital role to play but, if they say the wrong thing, it could make matters far worse.”
Stuart expresses frustration that the lines of communication between security personnel and artists are often closed off.
“It is remarkably hard for the safety team to speak first hand to an artist protected by so many of their people,” he laments. “I just wish we could break down that wall of them protecting the artist so we could all protect the guests.”
“We do not expect artists to be entirely responsible for crowd safety, but they are part of the team that does that”
He concludes: “If any reader of this article is engaged in band or artist management, or you are ‘with the band’ and you know they are genuinely interested in crowd safety, just get in touch. We know the artist has a job to do and they are under enormous pressure to perform every time. They do that job with lighting effects that often make the crowd invisible and in-ear monitors making them almost deaf to the audience noise.
“We do not expect them to be entirely responsible for crowd safety, but they are part of the team that does that. We just want to give them an idea of what to say or do on the day they notice something amiss, and to know what we will do to rectify that. We want to work with them to keep all of our crowds safe and if we could get to speak to the artists, we think they would agree.”
Springsteen manager defends tour ticket prices
Bruce Springsteen’s manager has responded to the furore over ticket prices for the singer’s 2023 tour.
Many fans reacted with uproar after individual tickets reached more than $5,000 via Ticketmaster’s “dynamic” market-based pricing when the first wave of The E Street Band’s US tour dates went on sale last week.
But The Boss’ manager Jon Landau insists the pricing is in line with shows for acts of a similar stature, while the average ticket price is around $250.
“In pricing tickets for this tour, we looked carefully at what our peers have been doing,” says Landau in a statement to the New York Times. “We chose prices that are lower than some and on par with others.
“Regardless of the commentary about a modest number of tickets costing $1,000 or more, our true average ticket price has been in the mid-$200 range. I believe that in today’s environment, that is a fair price to see someone universally regarded as among the very greatest artists of his generation.”
Ticketmaster says that platinum tickets account for 11.2% of the total sold, stressing that the remainder of the allocation sold at fixed prices ranging from $59.50 to $399.
Data released by the ticketing platform, reported by Variety showed the average price of tickets sold so far as $262, with 56% sold for under $200. Of that 56%, 18% were sold for under $99, 27% fetched between $100 and $150, and 11% cost between $150 and $200. Ticketmaster adds that only 1.3% of total tickets to date have been sold for more than $1,000.
“Prices and formats are consistent with industry standards for top performers”
“Prices and formats are consistent with industry standards for top performers,” said a Ticketmaster statement.
The tour’s opening US arena shows comprise more than 30 performances, starting at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on 1 February and running through to his 14 April homecoming at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
More than 1.2 million tickets were purchased for the European leg prior to UK dates going on sale earlier this month. The European run kicks off at the 60,000-cap Estadi Olímpic in Barcelona on 28 April and winds up on 25 July in Italy at Prato della Gerascia, Autodromo di Monza.
Springsteen’s most recent tour – 2016/17’s The River Tour – was the highest grossing worldwide tour of 2016, earning $268.3m over 76 shows.