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Positivus festival reaps rewards from site move

Positivus founder and CEO Girts Majors has spoken to IQ about how the festival was able to afford its most impressive and expensive line-up yet thanks to a change of location.

Established in 2007, Positivus is the largest popular music and arts festival in the Baltics, welcoming up to 30,000 local and international fans each year.

Muse, Nick Cave, Robert Plant, Iggy Pop, Ellie Goulding, The xx, Sigur Rós and Sinéad O’Connor are among the world-class acts that have performed at the festival, which for 13 years has taken place in the small beach town of Salacgriva.

This year, the festival took place in Lucavsala park – a 370-acre island on the Daugava river in the capital city of Riga – in order to become “more accessible to a wider audience”.

“Riga can provide a green island in the middle of the city… there are not many European cities that can provide such a unique location so close to the city centre,” says Majors.

In total, the festival sold 20,000 tickets – the highest number of visitors in years

Most importantly, the new location has resulted in more financial support (from the city of Riga), a bigger site, and several new sponsorship deals.

And so, despite the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival was able to book its most expensive line-up yet, bringing acts such as Megan Thee Stallion, A$AP Rocky and Thundercat to Latvia for the first time ever.

In total, the festival sold 20,000 tickets – the highest number of visitors in years, according to Girts.

And while the festival encountered typical challenges such as rising costs, USD rate and a loss of regular professionals, not a single artist dropped out of the lineup.

Off the back of the most “impressive” edition in the festival’s history, Girts says: “There are no doubts anymore that our current site can give you the best Positivus festival experience”.


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Lizzo, ASAP Rocky to headline first-ever Virgin Fest

The line-up for the inaugural Virgin Fest has been announced, with acts including Lizzo, ASAP Rocky, Anderson .Paak, Major Lazer and Ellie Goulding making up the bill.

Virgin founder Richard Branson first revealed his plans for Virgin Fest in 2018, following the end of the brand’s partnership with the UK’s V Festival. The festival launched following the acquisition of the Kaaboo festival brand by Virgin’s music festival arm – also named Virgin Fest – last year.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the Virgin brand, the festival is taking place on 6 and 7 June 2020 at the Banc of California Stadium (22,000-cap.) and Exposition Park (160-acre) in Los Angeles.

As well as its music programme, which also features Jorja Smith, Kali Uchis, Japanese Breakfast, Clairo and Celeste, Virgin Fest will showcase an interactive fair with new technologies and gaming.

“By combining Virgin’s signature hospitality and ingenuity with a strong sense of purpose, our team built the festival of tomorrow, today,” comments Virgin founder Branson.

“We are proud to bring Virgin Fest to LA and to be on track to become one of the United States’ greenest festivals”

“We are proud to bring Virgin Fest to LA and to be on track to become one of the United States’ greenest festivals.”

Sustainable initiatives such as a single-use plastic ban, solar programme, surplus food donations and a partnership with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will help reduce the event’s carbon footprint.

“Music is an emotional force of transformation – it can change people’s moods, their outlook on life, and sometimes, it can unite the world,” says Jason Felts, CEO and founder of Virgin Fest.

“We are embracing the dream that music can bring to get us to a better place – for our fans, for our people, for our communities and for our planet. We envision a tomorrow where festivals live and breathe the extraordinary – Virgin Fest looks to lead that charge.”

Tickets for Virgin Fest are available here. A two-day pass costs US$229, with VIP options available for $499 and mega VIP tickets for $1999.

Photo: Andy Witchger/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)


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ASAP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar to headline Wireless Germany 2020

Wireless Germany returns for its third year in 2020, following a brief hiatus in 2018, with a line-up featuring Kendrick Lamar, ASAP Rocky, Young Thug and Roddy Ricch.

The German edition of the Live Nation festival franchise is taking place for the second time in the 40,000-capacity Old Rebstockpark in Frankfurt on 10 and 11 July. Last year’s festival saw performances from Travis Scott, James Blake, Rae Sremmurd, J Balvin and Rita Ora.

In addition to headliners Kendrick Lamar and ASAP Rocky, acts including Young Thug, Meek Mill, Roddy Ricch, Apache 207, Tyga, DaBaby, Trettmann, Shindy, Shirin David, Mero and Tierra whack will perform over the two-day event.

ASAP Rocky, who was forced to withdraw from multiple European festivals last year following detention in Sweden, is appearing at Atlas Weekend festival in Ukraine, Hydeout in Singapore and MCD Productions’ Longitude festival, which he is also headlining alongside Kendrick Lamar, as well as Tyler the Creator.

Wireless Germany returns for its third year in 2020, with a line-up featuring Kendrick Lamar, ASAP Rocky, Young Thug and Roddy Ricch

Kendrick Lamar is performing over the summer at British Summer Time Hyde Park in London, Belgium’s Rock Werchter, Lollapalooza Stockholm and Nos Alive in Lisbon.

Tickets for Wireless Germany go on sale on Wednesday 29 January at 10 a.m., with a Magenta Musik Prio pre-sale beginning today (27 January) and a Ticketmaster pre-sale opening tomorrow.

Wireless’ flagship UK event, the country’s biggest urban music festival, is taking place in London’s Finsbury Park from 3 to 5 July 2020. The festival will this year have a 9.30 p.m. final night curfew, following restrictions implemented by the local council.

Three-day passes are available here for £190 plus fees, with a one-day ticket costing £70. Line-up details will be announced closer to the time.


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He’s back: Asap Rocky to play one-off Sweden show

Three months after being handed a suspended sentence for his part in the violent assault of a 19-year-old Stockholm man, Asap Rocky is already plotting his return to Sweden.

The American rapper was given a two-year suspended prison term and US$1,300 fine in August, after having spent almost a month in Swedish custody. Rocky was convicted by a Swedish judge of causing the victim “pain and suffering” in the attack, though his pre-trial detention was roundly condemned by the global hip-hop community, as well as US president Donald Trump.

The artist, real name Rakin Mayers, will perform at the 16,000-cap. Ericsson Globe in Stockholm on 11 December, in a one-off headline show promoted by Live Nation Sweden.

Asap Rocky, Live in Sweden 11 Dec

“After huge support from his Swedish fans, [Asap Rocky] returns to Stockholm for a long-awaited gig for all his supporters,” says the promoter.

Several Swedish artists will support Rocky, who plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from the concert to a local charity, the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups (FARR).


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No prison time for “guilty” Asap Rocky

US rapper Asap Rocky has been found guilty of assault by Stockholm District Court and given a two-year suspended sentence.

The rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, received a ‘guilty’ verdict along with two members of his entourage, Bladimir Corniel and David Rispers.

The assault was not deemed serious enough to constitute a prison sentence, as long as the three defendants commit no further crimes for two years.

The rapper was ordered to pay Kr12,500 (US$1,300) in damages to the victim for “violation of his integrity” and “pain and suffering”, according to the Swedish arm of English-language publication the Local.

Asap Rocky and his two co-defendants spent almost a month in custody in Sweden following the assault. Many objected to the rapper’s pre-trial detention, with artists including Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes and Jada Pinkett Smith urging his release.

Joppe Pihlgren, head of Swedish live music association Svensk Live, told IQ last month that although Rocky being held in a jail cell while awaiting trial “might seem strange in America, where you can bail yourself out if you have enough money… this is not how the Swedish system works.”

Pihlgren said he believed the general public largely supported Rocky’s detention, saying the feeling in Sweden was that “he is accused of committing a crime and he’s being treated like anyone else”.

“We [in Sweden] have a judicial system that treats everyone the same”

“We have a judicial system that treats everyone the same,” explained the Svensk Live head.

Mayers, Corniel and Rispers returned to the United States when the trial concluded on 2 August, where they have been awaiting today’s (14 August) verdict. The return prompted a gleeful Twitter post from president Donald Trump, who had put pressure on the Swedish government to release the rapper.

The rapper made his return to the stage at California’s Real Street festival on Sunday, telling fans “I’m so happy to be here right now.” Rocky also referenced the support he received from fellow artists, stating that “hip hop never looked so strong together, we’re a big, strong community.”

Rappers Tyler the Creator, Schoolboy Q and Lil Yachty announced they would boycott Sweden as a touring destination following Rocky’s arrest.

Rocky was forced to cancel various festival appearances while detained, including headline slots at Sónar in Spain, London’s Wireless festival and Ukraine’s Atlas Weekend.

Lowlands re-announced the rapper’s appearance at the festival this weekend, following confirmation from the artist’s agency, CAA. Rocky is also scheduled to appear in Finland in the next few days, at Live Nation-owned hip-hop festival Blockfest.


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Rapid Lowlands sell-out despite line-up challenges

The Netherlands’ Lowlands festival sold out in the fastest time in years for its 2019 edition and demand for tickets remains high as the event fast approaches.

“Everything is on track,” Eric van Eerdenburg, festival director of A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise – or Lowlands for short – tells IQ, ahead of the event’s 27th edition which kicks off on Friday 16 August.

Ticket sales are “back to where they were before”, states van Eerdenburg, referencing the fall in sales the festival experienced in 2015. “It was just one of those temporary shake-ups.”

After selling all tickets for the 60,000-capacity festival six months before opening, van Eerdenburg says a further 8,000 fans are still trying to get their hands on more via fan-to-fan resale platform TicketSwap.

304 tickets from unused sponsor blocks released to the public on 9 August have also sold out.

The price of Lowlands tickets went up by €10 this year to €210, with glamping options ranging from €72.5 to €660 on top of the festival ticket. The rise is caused by the national VAT rise for cultural event admission and a “steep” increase in artist fees, according to van Eerdenburg.

“We’re very lucky that glamping is really booming, so we can keep the tickets at the cheaper end more affordable”

Ticket prices are rising “too fast” says the Lowlands boss, adding that “we’re very lucky that glamping is really booming here, so we can differentiate the prices and keep the tickets at the cheaper end more affordable.”

However, it has not all been plain sailing for this year’s Lowlands. Speaking to IQ ahead of this year’s festival season, van Eerdenburg described the process of agreeing on a line-up poster as “mission impossible”.

The tragic passing of Prodigy frontman Keith Flint left Lowlands with an empty headline slot which “we couldn’t fill with an equally strong band”. With no international acts of a similar standard available, Lowlands elected for local band De Staat as a replacement.

Fast-growing among Dutch fans, the Lowlands appearance will be De Staat’s first headline show in Holland at a festival of this size. Although reactions to the replacement have been “mixed” and the act is “not as exclusive” as desired – De Staat have a packed Dutch festival schedule – van Eerdenburg is optimistic, saying “we will make it look like a headline show”.

Uncertainty lies around another Lowlands headliner, ASAP Rocky, who was recently detained on assault charges in Sweden.

“ASAP Rocky has now been released but we don’t know if he will be able to perform,” explains van Eerdenburg, saying the rapper’s agency has asked the festival to hold off on replacements for now. The verdict of the trial is announced on Wednesday 14 August, five days before the rapper’s Sunday evening Lowlands performance.

“We couldn’t fill [the Prodigy slot] with an equally strong band”

Elsewhere on the line-up, van Eerdenburg states there is a high level of excitement around Billie Eilish, who has “grown into a headliner in her own right”, since being booked for an early afternoon slot. Eilish has only played once before in Holland, in front of a 2,500-capacity crowd, so “the audience will be very happy to see her.”

Other acts the Lowlands boss is looking forward to include psychedelic rockers Tame Impala, fast-growing Irish rock band Fontaines DC and rapper Anderson Paak.

New for this year, Lowlands is partnering with payment communication specialist CM.com to trial an in-app payment collection service. The alternative to the oft-used RFID cashless system will run on one bar in the festival site, at the food and drinks outlets in the glamping area and in the press/guest area, with the plan to implement festival-wide next year.

Lowlands 2019 takes place from 16 to 18 August in Biddinghuizen, the Netherlands.


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ASAP Rocky awaits Sweden assault trial verdict in US

Rapper ASAP Rocky has returned to the United States after a temporary release from custody in Sweden, where he was being held on suspected assault charges.

The rapper, real name Rakim Mayers, and two of his entourage were detained on 3 July, charged with assaulting a 19-year-old man in Stockholm, Sweden.

All three have pleaded not guilty and claim to have acted in self-defense.

Following the conclusion of the trial on Friday (2 August), Mayers was released from Swedish detention and given permission to leave the country, along with co-defendants Bladimir Corniel (Bladi) and David Rispers (Thoto).

The three men will receive the verdict of the trial on 14 August. The prosecution has asked for the rapper to be jailed for six months.

Mayers was in the country to headline a two-day hip-hop festival, Smash x Stadion, on 2 July.

“This has been a very difficult and humbling experience”

While detained, Mayer had to cancel a host of European tour dates, including headline festival appearances at Ukraine’s Atlas Weekend, Longitude in Ireland, Spain’s Sónar and Wireless festival in London

The rapper is scheduled to play at Blockfest in Finland and the Netherlands’ Lowlands festival later this month.

In an Instagram post, the rapper “fans, friends and anyone across the globe” who have offered support throughout his detention.

High-profile acts including Tyler, the Creator, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Post Malone and Jada Pinkett Smith, have voiced their backing for the rapper through the online #JusticeForRocky petition.

US government has also supported the rapper, with president Donald Trump celebrating Mayers’ return on Friday.


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Record attendance for Ukraine’s Atlas Weekend

The fifth edition of Kiev-based Atlas Weekend festival saw more visitors than ever before, with 538,000 festivalgoers from 75 different countries attending the six-day festival.

The festival, which took place from 9 to 14 July, featured performances from the Chainsmokers, Black Eyed Peas, the Vaccines, Liam Gallagher and Russian rock group Splean.

“We are really happy with how the 2019 edition went,” Atlas Weekend owner and chief executive Dmytro Sydorenko tells IQ. “It was our best festival yet.”

159,710 people attended the free-to-enter opening day of the festival, breaking the event’s daily attendance record.

“The point of the first day is to showcase Ukrainian music to the widest audience possible,” explains Sydorenko, stating that the number of attendees also marked a new daily attendance record for festival venue Ukrainian Expo Centre, “in all 61 years of its existence”.

“One of our main goals is to develop music tourism in Ukraine and also make the festival more prominent in markets outside of our country,” says Sydorenko. “We work closely with government departments to ease planning for foreign visitors – both artists and fans – and make sure they have the best time possible during their stay in Kiev.”

Over 250 acts from 20 different countries made up the festival’s most international line-up yet, with 30 acts performing in Ukraine for the first time.

“One of our main goals is to make the festival more prominent in markets outside of Ukraine”

Asap Rocky, who was billed to headline Atlas Weekend’s Saturday night, was detained in Sweden for suspected assault shortly before the event, leading to the cancellation of remaining tour dates.

The absence of the headliner was much talked about on social media and in the Ukrainian press, says the Atlas chief executive, admitting that “there was a lot of tension involved”.

“We have never had to deal with a headliner replacement before, especially not one that urgent,” Sydorenko tells IQ, “but we are happy that we managed to find a suitable replacement both for Asap Rocky’s fans and our festivalgoers.”

Fellow Asap Mob member Asap Ferg filled the headline slot, in a performance that “almost didn’t happen due to flight delays”.

A key goal for the 2019 festival was to be “as inclusive and accessible as possible.” Through its Mastercard Vibes initiative, festival sponsor Mastercard provided sign language interpretation at the main stage, as well as setting up a lounge area with visual and tactile installations.

“We believe in inclusivity and take pride in our efforts to make our festival a place for everyone to have a good time and enjoy music,” says Sydorenko.

The festival was held in partnership with Music Conference Ukraine, which was organised by the country’s music export office.


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The show will go on for Rolling Loud 2017

Kendrick Lamar-headlined festival Rolling Loud has avoided cancellation after board members of the Bayfront Park Management Trust voted unanimously to allow it to go ahead as planned next month.

The major hip-hop event, promoted by Dope Entertainment, was facing the prospect of being called off following the revelation that its move to the 32-acre Miami park had only been signed off by one board member. Frank Carollo, the chairman of the trust which manages Bayfront Park, then called a special meeting “to vote on approval/denial of the use agreement for the Rolling Loud festival”, arguing that all uses of the park must be approved by the entire board.

Cue Rolling Loud’s lawyer, Jeffrey Bass, threatening the city with a lawsuit, warning that Dope had already sold close to 40,000 tickets and would suffer damages “well in excess of $30 million” if the event were cancelled.

“I feel like I got acquitted for a crime, and I know I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s crazy”

According to the Miami Herald, yesterday’s vote “went quickly, with little discussion save a few changes to the contract limiting when the festival can conduct sound checks and requiring that the festival increase its investment in off-duty police and firefighters to nearly $800,000”.

“I feel like I got acquitted for a crime, and I know I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s crazy,” said festival co-founder Tariq Cherif after the vote. “We should have never had to go through this.”

Rolling Loud – an “Ultra for hip hop” which took place at Soho Studios and Mana Wynwood in 2015 and 2016, respectively – will this year run from 5 to 7 May. Other performers include Lil Wayne, Young Thug, Future and A$AP Rocky.

Bayfront Park is also home to EDM event Ultra and an outdoor concert venue, Bayfront Park Amphitheater, booked by Live Nation.


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