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Brazilian singer arrested after unlicensed show

A popular Brazilian singer has been arrested after playing an unlicensed, non-socially distanced concert in a school last week.

Samba star Marcelo Pires Vieira, known as Belo (‘Beautiful’), was apprehended by Brazil’s Civil Police yesterday (17 February) following the 12 February show, described by news agency EFE as a “massive concert” at a state school in Parque Uniao, a favela in the north of the city.

According to police, the show took place both without authorisation and without any preventative measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including mask wearing.

All Carnival events, parties and concerts are banned this year to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Rio de Janeiro.

The show “could only have taken place with the authorisation of the head of the gang which controls drug trafficking”

In addition to the obvious breaches of coronavirus restrictions, officers suspect the concert, held on the first night of the Rio Carnival, was organised and financed by drug traffickers operating out of the favela (slum) where it took place.

Footage from the concert, filmed by both attendees and news helicopters, was broadcast on Brazilian television, showing a large crowd at the school.

Gustavo de Mello de Castro, head of the Civil Police’s drug commissariat, ordered the arrest of four people, including Belo. According to a police statement, the show “could only have taken place with the authorisation of the head of the gang which controls drug trafficking in the region,” Luiz Moura Bargosa, who is also subject to an arrest warrant.

A statement from Belo’s publicist says the singer was hired by a production company which had promised to fulfil all health and safety protocols and secure permission to hold the event.

 


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Woman indicted for Taiwanese promoter scam

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office has reportedly charged a woman with fraud and forgery, for posing as a promoter for concerts by K-Pop groups, Mandopop star Andy Lau and Singaporean musician JJ Lin.

According to the Taipei Times, Chao Chung-ling is accused of defrauding six people who invested TWD 4.84 million (US$159,000) in her business after she claimed she was promoting a concert by Lau in Taiwan last year.

The individual in question, reportedly the proprietor of Taipei-based agency FD Model Co, had previously received TWD 4m ($132,000) from separate investors for a concert tour by K-pop band VIXX.

The report also states that Chao sought an investment of TWD 800,000 ($26,000) in January last year, again claiming she was putting on an Andy Lau show in Taiwan.

The Asian live industry has seen its fair share of scams in recent years

Chao was also allegedly sued last year by claimants who said they lost TWD 40m ($1.3m) on a concert she claimed she was promoting for K-pop superstars BTS. In another claim, an investor said he gave Chao TWD 6m ($198,000) for a series of dates by Taiwanese hip-hop band 911.

The Asian live industry has seen its fair share of scams in recent years. Last year, promoters, festivals and venues across Asia were contacted by bogus ‘agents’ claiming to represent artists such as Lady Gaga, Eminem, Rihanna and System of a Down.

More recently, several South Korean industry insiders were accused of defrauding promoters and investors of more than $4m by posing as representatives of BTS’ management company, Big Hit Entertainment.

Similar scams targeted European promoters in 2018, which saw fraudsters pose as representatives of Adele, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé and more.

Photo: Huandy618/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) (cropped)

 


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Fake-ticket holders force entry into Pakistan’s Solis fest

The organisers of Solis festival in Islamabad, Pakistan, brought the event to a close on Saturday (15 February), as “hundreds” of individuals with fake tickets “fought their way” into the venue.

Solis Music and Arts Festival, which has run for three previous editions, was due to feature electronic acts including Dannic, Mike Williams, Julian James and Fdvm at the 1,000-capacity Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA).

However, the event was called off after audience members climbed onto a VIP stage, causing it to collapse. Organisers claimed the culprits were fake-ticket holders, who had stormed the venue after being denied entry.

“We chose the venue and our security based on the number of tickets sold and made arrangements based on this,” stated organisers.

“We warned against fake tickets on numerous occasions. However, we underestimated the sheer volume of thousands of “fake tickets” that were being sold illegally.

“These people were denied entry, but broke our barricades and forced themselves in”

“These people were denied entry, but broke our barricades and forced themselves in, climbing on VIP platforms which couldn’t take the weight and destroyed our stage putting everyone’s safety at risk.”

Many on social media have criticised festival organisers, citing “mismanagement” and a “lack of security”. Some audience members reported incidents of sexual harassment and assault following the stage collapse.

An inquiry is now underway to determine what happened at the event, with Deputy Commissioner for Islamabad, Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat, stating that the festival organisers “will not be allowed any future event in Islamabad”.

Organisers, on the other hand, state that the incident will not prevent the event from going ahead in Islamabad in the coming years, saying: “We will learn and persevere and keep giving Pakistan an experience they haven’t had before, much like we have done in the past.”

 


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Thirteen convicted over Bucharest nightclub fire

A court in the Romanian capital of Bucharest has today (Monday 16 December) handed prison sentences to 13 people in conjunction with a deadly fire that broke out in the 700-capacity Colectiv nightclub in 2015.

The blaze, which started after fireworks ignited inflammable acoustic foam at a show by metalcore band Goodbye to Gravity on 30 October 2015, killed 64 people, including four of the five band members.

The tragic fire sparked sweeping reforms to both venue regulation and the political system in Romania. However, many criticised a lack of punishment for those who played a role in the tragedy.

Now, over four years since the incident, the first convictions have been made, with 13 individuals deemed responsible for the fire receiving a combined 115 years and six months in prison.

In addition to the prison time, the Bucharest court ordered authorities found guilty of negligence to pay €50 million to the survivors of the fire and the families of those who died. Individual amounts range from €50,000 to €900,000.

Colectiv’s owners Anastasescu George Alin, Mincu Costin and Gancea Paul-Cătălin are each facing prison sentences of eleven years and eight months.

Now, over four years since the incident, the first convictions have been made

Niţă Daniela Ioana, the owner of the company that supplied the fireworks, received a sentence of twelve years and eight months in prison, whereas fellow owner Niţă Cristian Mihai was sentenced to three years and six months.

Zaharia Viorel and Moise Marian, pyrotechnic experts working on the show, received sentences of nine years and eight months and ten years in prison respectively.

The former mayor of Bucharest’s sector 4 municipality was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison for issuing operating permits to Colectiv, with other local politicians receiving sentences of between three and eight years.

Two firemen were each handed sentences of nine years and two months.

All convictions can be challenged in a higher court.

A documentary entitled Colectiv, which follows the aftermath of the fire and ensuing anti-corruption investigations, premiered at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year.

Photo: Eugen Simion/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0

 


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Three wounded in post-concert shooting

Three people were wounded in a shooting following a concert by Los Angeles rap group Shoreline Mafia in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The gunshots were fired as the three victims left multi-room music venue the Complex on Friday evening (22 November). It is believed they had attended the concert, which took place in the Complex’s 2,500-capacity Rockwell venue.

All victims, two adults and one minor, are expected to survive.

According to Salt Lake City police officer Carlos Valencia, the two adult victims had engaged in a verbal confrontation inside the venue, although no connection to the shooting has been confirmed.

Shoreline Mafia’s 2019 tour has seen them play across the United States and Europe, with shows in Germany, Austria, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

The group is now embarking on the Australian leg of the tour, appearing at Brisbane’s Wildlands festival (28,000-cap.), Beyond the Valley (16,000-cap.) in Victoria, Perth’s Origen Fields (15,000-cap.) and Field Day (20,000-cap.) in Sydney.

 


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Shows axed amid South Africa violence

Several artists have cancelled upcoming shows in South Africa, as the looting and violence which has left five foreigners dead continues.

Nigerian musicians Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy and Banky W, as well as comedian Basketmouth, have announced they are boycotting South Africa after a week of rioting that targeted non-South Africans, primarily Nigerians, and foreign-owned businesses.

Burna Boy, who is booked for Afropunk Festival in Johannesburg on new year’s eve, tweeted that he will “not ever go to South Africa again” unless the South African government takes action against the rioters, while Tiwa Savage, who was to perform at Delicious Festival on 21 September, says she won’t “watch the barbaric butchering of my people”.

The Nigerian government has threatened “definitive” action to protect its citizens in South Africa, as tensions rise between Africa’s two largest economies. “The continuing attacks on Nigerian nationals and businesses in South Africa are unacceptable,” it said in a statement, announcing it had also withdrawn its ambassador.

Since the end of Apartheid in 1994, xenophobic violence has been a longstanding feature in the ‘new’ South Africa, according to a recent report by the African Center for Migration and Society, reports the New York Times.

According to the Times, South Africa’s black townships have seen previous outbreaks of xenophobic violence that claimed lives in 2008 and 2015.

 


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IMP’s Seth Hurwitz charged with soliciting prostitution

Seth Hurwitz, chairman of US promoter and venue operator IMP, has been charged with soliciting prostitution after he attempted to purchase sex from a masseuse in Montgomery County, Maryland.

According to Montgomery County Department of Police, Hurwitz, 60, is alleged to have solicited sex from an unidentified “licensed massage and physical therapist” at her place of business on the afternoon of Thursday 15 August.

“During the massage session, Hurwitz made sexual comments and inappropriate sexual motions,” reads the police report. “He implied to the victim that her tip would be greater if she performed sexual acts. The victim also noted that Hurwitz had left a roll of cash laying on the floor in plain view in the massage room.

“Twice during the interaction, Hurwitz asked the victim if she would consider coming to his home and providing a massage. The victim declined. The victim ended the massage early due to Hurwitz’s increasing inappropriate sexual behaviour.”

The masseuse reported the alleged solicitation on the 16th.

“The victim also noted that Hurwitz had left a roll of cash laying on the floor in plain view”

“Later that day, Hurwitz texted the victim’s business phone,” the police statement continues. “He texted and called her the next day (August 16), asking if she would come to his home. In a text conversation and a phone call between the victim and Hurwitz, during which vice and intelligence unit detectives were present with the victim, Hurwitz agreed to pay cash in exchange for the victim performing sexual favours.

“In a follow-up text conversation, Hurwitz said that he would come to the business on August 21.”

Hurwitz was arrested as he arrived at the massage parlour yesterday, Wednesday 21 August. After being charged with solicitation for prostitution, he was released on US$5,000 bail.

According to Montgomery County police, statements Hurwitz made “during conversations with the victim about having similar arrangements with other women” lead investigators to believe there may be additional alleged victims.

Hurwitz owns two Washington music venues, the 9:30 Club (1,200-cap.) and the Anthem (6,000-cap.). IMP additionally promotes shows at the Merriweather Post Pavilion (19,319-cap.) in Columbus, Maryland, and the Lincoln Theater (1,225-cap.) in Washington.

 


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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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LA Opera, IFPI investigate ‘Opera King’ sexual misconduct

The Los Angeles Opera and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) have launched separate investigations into opera superstar Plácido Domingo, who has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women.

Multi Grammy award-winning singer and conductor Domingo has served as general director of the LA Opera since 2003 and as IFPI chairman since 2011.

On Tuesday (13 August), the Associated Press reported that nine women in the opera industry had come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Domingo, spanning over three decades. Seven of the nine claim they felt their careers would have been jeopardised if they rejected Domingo’s advances.

A further six individuals told the AP that “suggestive overtures” by the singer had made them feel uncomfortable. Only one of the subjects, retired opera singer Patricia Wulf, allowed her name to be used in the report.

In response to the reports, the LA Opera is hiring a third party counsel to investigate “the concerning allegations”, as the IFPI launches its own “formal inquiry” into the accusations.

The Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera have cancelled upcoming performances by Domingo.

The singer had been invited to appear at the opening gala for the Philadelphia Orchestra on September 18, and was also set to make his 50th anniversary appearance with the San Francisco Opera on October 6.

“I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual”

New York’s Metropolitan Opera is awaiting the results of investigations “before making any final decisions” regarding Domingo, who is to perform in three operatic productions of Macbeth next month.

The opera star will appear at the Salzburg Festival in Austria as planned on 31 August. Festival president Helga Rabl-Stadler said it would be “factually wrong and morally irresponsible to make irreversible judgements at this point.”

Domingo calls the allegations “deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate.”

“Still, it is painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable – no matter how long ago and despite my best intentions. I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual,” continues Domingo in a statement issued to the AP.

“People who know me or who have worked with me know that I am not someone who would intentionally harm, offend, or embarrass anyone. However, I recognise that the rules and standards by which we are – and should be – measured against today are very different than they were in the past.”

The opera singer has upcoming European dates in Hungary, Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland.

 


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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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