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Bloodstock director steps back after “uninformed” tweet

The director of one of the UK’s biggest heavy metal festivals has “taken a step back” after coming under fire for an “uninformed” tweet.

Vicky Hungerford of Bloodstock Open Air (cap. 20,000) was criticised for tweeting: “If you are going to start putting pronouns on your emails so I can refer to you as he/him she or her I’m binning your emails.”

The festival booker deleted the comments after a backlash on Twitter, and said: “I would like to be clear that I fully support everyone in the LGBTQI+ community and am happy to learn more about how to be a better ally.

“I am genuinely upset that I have caused upset to these very people today, which was in no way my intention.”

A statement from Bloodstock Festival, which is owned and run by independent promoter Amust4music, says: “We are deeply sorry to everyone affected by these uninformed comments.

“For now, Vicky has taken a step back from Bloodstock effective immediately, and will be taking the time to properly educate herself for a better understanding.”

Hungerford has worked for Bloodstock Open Air since 2001. In 2004, she became a director of the festival and took over the booking of all artists for the main stage, and later on, for the second stage too.

In the wake of the director’s tweet, the festival’s entertainment manager Paul Watling has resigned from his role effective immediately.

In a post on Facebook Watling said: “I’ve left Bloodstock as entertainment manager tonight for obvious reasons. There are hundreds of people who make that festival happen, they’re all amazing, and I’ve been so proud to be a small part of it but this is not an isolated incident. You can not promote a festival of inclusivity without including everyone.”

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M’era Luna rebooks all 2020 acts for next year

FKP Scorpio has announced that all acts billed to play the 2020 edition of gothic festival M’era Luna will be returning in 2021.

The promoter was forced to call off M’era Luna 2020, along with twin festivals Hurricane and Southside, Highfield, Deichbrand, Elbjazz and Limestone, when the German government imposed a ban on large-scale events until the end of August.

The 25,000-capacity festival will return from 7 to 8 August 2021, headed up by ASP, Gdansk and the Sisters of Mercy.

“We are very happy that we could reward the solidarity and patience of our guests in this manner,” says FKP Scorpio CEO Stephan Thanscheidt, who spoke on the recent IQ Focus Festival Forum panel.

“The rapid reconfirmation of our entire line-up would not have been possible for our visitors without a great effort of our team and our artists. Thanks for all parties, but especially to our guests who have kept us in this difficult time with a lot of support, the loyalty.”

“We are very happy that we could reward the solidarity and patience of our guests in this manner”

Scorpio has also reconfirmed a number of headliners for its Hurricane and Southside festivals, including Seeed, Martin Garrix, the Killers, Kings of Leon and Rise Against.

Thanscheidt references FKP’s ‘three-ticket solution’ programme, which offers all ticket holders three options: transfer tickets to 2021, opt for a credit voucher in accordance with government regulations, or ask for a cash refund.

Several festivals have announced a high rebooking count for 2021. In the UK, metal festival Bloodstock has confirmed 95% of its 2020 acts for next year, says festival director Rachael Greenfield.

Scotland’s Trnsmt has also retained a high proportion of acts for next year, including headliners Courteeners, Liam Gallagher and Lewis Capaldi, whereas From the Fields’ Bluedot Festival announced the rebooking of headliners Bjork, Groove Armada and Metronomy concurrently with the cancellation of its 2020 edition.

Primavera Sound today (27 May) announced its line-up for 2021, reconfirming acts including Iggy Pop, the Strokes, Tyler the Creator and the National.

A recent Festicket survey has indicated that appetite for next year’s festival season is high, with over 75% of 110,000 respondents saying they would book tickets for 2021 events within the next eight weeks.


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Wireless cancels as more UK fests call time on 2020

Festival Republic’s Wireless Festival and an open-air the 1975 show are the latest losses to the UK’s 2020 summer calendar, in a week that also saw Oxfordshire’s Cornbury Music Festival and metal event Bloodstock move to 2021.

The UK’s summer festival season is looking increasingly uncertain, as organisers wait for the government to reveal details of its exit plan. The country has been in lockdown since 23 March.

“Wireless Festival will no longer be taking place this year,” reads a statement from organisers. “As you know we’ve been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation, and it’s become clear that cancelling is unavoidable.

“Subject to contract, Wireless Festival will be back next year on 2 to 4 July 2021 and will be worth the wait,” continue organisers, urging fans to “keep your eyes peeled” for news on the virtual edition of the festivals.

The urban music event, which had booked ASAP Rocky, D-Block Europe and Lil Uzi Thug for this year, has encountered licensing restrictions imposed by the local council around its home in Finsbury Park.

The promoter has also announced the cancellation of an eco-friendly show by the 1975 at Finsbury Park, scheduled for 11 July. The show, which was also to feature Charli XCX, Clairo and Pale Waves, was set to be the Manchester band’s biggest show ever.

“We’ve been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation, and it’s become clear that cancelling is unavoidable”

Festival Republic had previously called off the 2020 outings of Download Festival, set to feature Kiss, Iron Maiden and System of a Down, and Latitude, which had a line-up including Liam Gallagher, Haim and the Chemical Brothers.

This week also saw the cancellation of the 20,000-capacity Cornbury Music Festival, which was to feature Dido, Jack Savoretti and the Waterboys, as well as Judas Priest-headlined metal festival Bloodstock. Organisers say the event will be back for a bumper five-day edition in 2021.

Other major UK festivals to cancel due to the coronavirus outbreak include Boomtown (Wu-Tang Clan, Underworld, the Libertines), Bluedot (Bjork, Metronomy, Groove Armada), Black Deer (Wilco, the Waterboys, the Dead South) and Y Not Festival (Royal Blood, Richard Ashcroft, Bombay Bicycle Club), adding to cancellations of AEG Presents’ All Points East and British Summer Time Hyde Park, Live Nation’s Parklife, Lovebox and Isle of Wight Festival, and Glastonbury Festival.

In Scotland, which has limited self-government within the UK, DF Concerts’ Trnsmt (Courteeners, Liam Gallagher, Lewis Capaldi) and Regular Music’s Summer Nights at the Bandstand (Rick Astley, Van Morrison, Primal Scream) cancelled after first minster Nicola Sturgeon suggested public gatherings would be banned for the foreseeable future.

In the neighbouring country of the Republic of Ireland, festivals including Longitude and All Together Now cancelled last month, as the government announced a blanket ban on events over 5,000 people until 31 August, although it recently indicated that smaller events would be permitted from 10 August.


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Black Gold: How metal became a cultural phenomenon

Last year, Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson was bestowed with two very unique honours.

In April, he was made an honorary citizen of Sarajevo in recognition of a concert his solo band Skunkworks played there in 1994, during a prolonged siege of the Bosnian capital. Presenting the award, mayor Abdulah Skaka said: “The arrival of Mr Dickinson in Sarajevo, in 1994, was one of those moments that made us realise that we will survive.”

The other accolade was bestowed upon Dickinson by Dr Cristina Rheims, a Brazilian biologist and metal fan who gave a newly discovered species of spider the name Extraordinarius brucedickonsoni.

If these honours anecdotally demonstrate metal’s soft power, its global reach and the deep devotion of its fans, then the fact that Amon Amarth, a melodic death metal band whose principal lyrical inspiration is Viking folklore, will shake the fields of Wacken Open Air festival with 75,000 roaring fans this summer should be considered testament to metal’s undaunted commercial clout.

“It feels like there’s a cultural movement happening where, if you’re in the metal game and you’re good at what you do, you have a specific brand and you put on a great live show, things are moving,” enthuses Justin Arcangel, president of 5B Artist Management and Touring, who represent Amon Amarth, Babymetal, Slipknot and more.

“All our data – streaming numbers, ticket numbers, merch sales, whatever – are all bigger in 2020 than in 2019. The funny thing is when you speak to some people that don’t work in this genre, they have no idea. Metal is, to this day, outsider music, but let me tell you, it’s a major cultural thing, especially in Europe.”

“What we’ve witnessed across our events is metal is really a community – this outlaw feeling that unites us”

Summer knights
“Some of our hardcore audience think maybe metal is too mainstream now, because in Germany there’s a lot in the charts,” chuckles Thomas Jensen, CEO of International Concert Services and Wacken co-founder, pondering the sea change since he first staged the festival in the German village’s gravel pit in 1990.

Now in its third decade, with all 75,000 tickets for 2020’s edition snapped up in an astonishing 21 hours, Wacken is a major force, with good company in France’s Hellfest (55,000-capacity), Belgium’s Graspop (50,000-cap.), plus the UK’s Bloodstock Open Air (20,000-cap.) and Download, which attracts 110,000 fans over the weekend – a “heavy music summer,” as Jensen calls it. Which is not even to dig into the boom in boutique festivals offering bespoke experiences, such as Italy’s Rock the Castle or the Netherlands’ Roadburn, whose reputation as a tastemaker event means 75% of its 4,000 attendees travel from abroad.

“What we’ve witnessed across Wacken events is that metal is really a community, this outlaw feeling that unites us,” says Jensen. “Our music is a live experience and the whole festival circuit allows bands to survive. For international acts, it’s easier to put a festival run together than it was in the 90s, and you see bands working their way up the bill each year.”

“I’ve only ever seen the metal market over the years grow,” agrees Vicky Hungerford, co-director at Bloodstock, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with headline spots from Polish black metallers Behemoth and the UK’s Judas Priest. As well as fostering new talent with their popular Metal to the Masses series of regional shows, where unsigned bands compete to play the festival, Bloodstock strongly believes in paving the way for tomorrow’s monsters of rock.


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 88, or subscribe to the magazine here.

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