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Mediterranean signals hope for 2020 festival summer

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, festivalgoers will get their chance to dance in the Mediterranean sunshine this year, with a number of festivals taking place in Greece, Malta, Croatia and on the southern coast of France

The first festival to return, Xlalala Presents-promoted Long Beach Festival 2.0 welcomed 2,000 festivalgoers over two days of performances in the northern city of Pydna from 24 to 25 July.

Although mostly seated, audience members were able to stand and still remain distant from each other at the Terra Republic festival site, which usually welcomes up to 50,000 concertgoers.

Hygiene regulations and temperature checks were in place at the festival, which featured performances from Greek acts including Stelios Dionisiou, Pyx Lax, Villagers of Ioannina City and Planet of Zeus.

Long Beach Festival will return next year with an extended, four-day programme from 4 to 8 August.

Xlalala Presents’ Athens event, Urban Athens, is set to go ahead from 7 to 8 August at Terra Vibe Park with the same line-up.

Also taking place from 7 August is GEM Festival, a four-stage, three-day event on the Greek island of Zakynthos, or Zante, with acts including Andrea Ferlin, Anushka, Paul van Dyk and Romeo Blanco.

The festival has reduced capacity at its 110,000 square-metre site and will not allow camping. Guests will be temperature tested on entry, with those showing signs of a high temperature being tested for Covid-19. Everyone entering the festival’s VIP area will also be tested.

Tickets for the festival are priced at €30 for a one-day pass and €170 for a full ticket, with VIP passes costing €1,250.

Festivals are also making an appearance this summer in France, with the Panda Events- and Allover-promoted Les Croisières Électroniques (Electronic Cruises) taking place in Cannes Bay from 2 to 9 and 23 to 30 August.

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, festivalgoers will get their chance to dance in the Mediterranean sunshine this year

The cataraman-based event will see up to 100 music fans a time board from Cannes Bay and Lerins Island for a day of music, dancing and water sports.

Tickets start from €70, with VIP options also available.

Family Piknik festival, postponed from July, is another event entertaining French music fans, bringing two days of live music to the grounds of Montpellier Airport, with sets from Charlotte de Witte, La Fleur, Rodriguez Jr, Tom Pooks and Mind Against.

With a limited capacity of 5,000, the event is taking place on 12 September. Tickets, €40 regular and €100 for a backstage pass, are available here.

Across the Mediterranean, the island state of Malta is also preparing to welcome back festivalgoers, with BPM Festival Malta (Fatboy Slim, Amelie Lens, Maceo Plex), Escape 2 the Island festival (AJ Tracey, Fredo, Aitch), Rhythm and Waves festival (Chase and Status, Shy FX, Wilkinson) and Mi Casa festival (Gorgon City, Hannah Wants, Sonny Fodera) all open to international revellers at the end of August and throughout September.

A fifth Maltese festival, Back.In the Future, has been called off due to “lower than expected ticket sales”. The event, due to take place at open-air venues Gianpula Village and Uno Malta from 29 to 30 August, was to feature acts including Chase and Status, DJ EZ and Wiley.

Ticketholders will receive an automatic refund and will also be offered complimentary guestlist entry to Escape 2 the Island and/or Rhythm and Waves festivals, as well as a €50 drinks credit.

Croatia, normally a hotspot of summer festival activity, is far quieter this year as authorities introduce stringent social distancing restrictions. Mainstays including Dimensions, Ultra Europe, Outlook, Sonus and Hideout are among those forced to cancel this year’s edition.

Some are still forging ahead, however. BSH Island festival, set to take place at the Noa Beach Club from 7 to 12 July, was forced to scrap its original format just a week prior to the event, downsizing from 5,000 capacity to 900 for an alternative, socially distanced festival.

Trance and progressive festival Awake is also going ahead in a socially distanced manner. With a reduced capacity of 1,000, Awake will host acts including Cosmic Gate, Paul Thomas and Paul van Dyk from 20 to 23 August on Zcre beach.

Tickets for Awake, including hotel, villa and apartment packages, are available here. Day tickets start from €40 and four-day passes priced at €152.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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How we kept our distance at BSH Island

Due to the recent epidemiological measures in Croatia, we were forced to postpone the premiere of BSH Island festival to July 2021. As unfortunate as that was, we decided to react and adapt and save this summer in whatever way we could.

We came up with an alternative event – Keep the Distance – which hosted guests from around the world and abided by all necessary health-and-safety measures.

The most significant measure we were forced to take was to cap the number of patrons in Noa Beach Club at 900, and a little over 800 people attended in total. In addition to capacity restrictions, the club was reorganised to increase social distance between patrons.

On top of that, we created an entry and exit protocol that was mandatory for all patrons, which included disinfection, the distribution of protective masks to encourage responsible behaviour, and logging temperatures and personal information for track-and-trace purposes.

Having to downsize from 5,000 capacity to just 900 left us with an operational nightmare

The peculiar specifics of the measures – which were introduced just one week before the now-postponed festival – were the biggest challenge we’ve faced so far, as having to downsize from a 4–5,000 capacity to just 900 left us with an operational nightmare.

Nonetheless, we are grateful for Keep the Distance happening and are thankful for everyone that came out.

We are already deep into planning for BSH Island Festival 2021 with numerous international partners, and will be announcing the first release of the line-up, along with the exact dates, soon.

Besides beautiful Noa Beach Club, we will be adding some extras that will make BSH Island unique in many ways. We can’t wait to reveal it all to you.

 


Drago Vukelic is CEO of BSH Events and founder of BSH Island festival.

Malta to host trio of festivals this summer

The southern European island state of Malta is preparing to welcome festivalgoers over the next few months, as it gets set to become one of the only European countries to host large-scale music events this summer.

With one of the lowest rates of Covid-19 in Europe, Malta is lifting lockdown measures – including all international travel restrictions – on 15 July. It is one of 60 countries included in a list of “travel corridors” with the UK, meaning those travelling between the two countries will not need to self-isolate on arrival.

Escape 2 the Island, organised by UK-based promoter Bass Jam, will see artists including Aitch, AJ Tracey, Fredo and Charlie Sloth perform at the Malta Fairs and Convention Centre (MFCC), an indoor and outdoor events venue in the town of Attard, from 28 to 30 August.

The festival is organised in conjunction with the Malta Tourism Authority and Visit Malta. Tickets for the event went on sale on Friday (3 July), priced from €99 for general admission and €129 for VIP.

From 4 to 6 September, Rhythm and Waves festival will take place at outdoor events arena Gianpula Village, with performances from Andy C, Chase and Status, Netsky, Subfocus, Shy FX and Wilkinson.

The southern European island state of Malta is preparing to welcome thousands of festivalgoers over the next few months

Tickets are priced from €119 for general admission and €149 for VIP and can be bought here.

Global dance music brand BPM is holding its inaugural Maltese edition from 11 to 13 September at open-air club Uno Malta.

The line-up for the festival, which has previously taken place in Mexico, Portugal, Israel and Costa Rica, is yet to be announced. Fans can register for pre-sale tickets and further information here.

The fate of events in fellow Mediterranean festival hotspot, Croatia, is hanging in the balance this year, after authorities banned events from taking place on Zrće beach on the island of Pag last week, leading to the cancellation of BSH Events’ BSH Island festival. It had previously been believed that clubs and events on the beach would reopen this week.

Pag is typically home to Hideout, Sonus, Zrce Spring Break Europe and Austria Goes Zrce festivals.

Neighbouring Serbia will host Exit Festival in August, with acts including Amelie Lens, Maceo Plex and Nina Kraviz performing to a 50% capacity crowd at the Petrovaradin fortress in Novi Sad.

 


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Croatian beach festival to go ahead in July

Pag, the Croatian island home to the Hideout and Sonus festivals, will host a new electronic music festival in the second week of July.

Zagred-based promoter BSH Events hopes to attract around 4,000 guests to the debut BSH Island festival, which will take place at the waterfront Noa Beach Club from Thursday 7 to Sunday 12 July. The festival – which has been given the green light by local health authorities – will feature a dance-focused line-up headlined by Richy Ahmed, Paco Osuna, Honey Dijon and Artbat.

According to BSH, which has been organising parties in Croatia since 2013, the festival will comply with all “epidemiological measures necessary”. Both Sonus and Superstruct’s Hideout were cancelled earlier this year as the coronavirus crisis escalated.

Most clubs on Pag’s Zrce beach will reopen in the first week of July, while Noa opened its doors earlier this month.

The festival will comply with all “epidemiological measures necessary”

Tea Cafuta, speaking on behalf of the Zrce beach clubs, tells Hrturizam.hr the venues “have a detailed plan of compliance” with anti-Covid-19 measures that include limiting the number of people allowed in key ‘zones’ inside the clubs, temperature checking patrons, and installing disinfectants and sanitisers throughout.

At press time, BSH Island had sold more than 1,500 tickets, mostly to locals, although they are also proving popular with Dutch and Belgian tourists, according to BSH Events’ Drago Vukelic. Tickets are priced at HRK 250 (€33) for regular passes and HRK 550 (€73) for VIP tickets.

As of last week, Croatia had closed its borders to a number of its Balkan neighbours to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, though tourists from many countries are being welcomed in a bid to kickstart the country’s tourism-dependent entertainment sector.

 


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Venues open doors as demand for hospital beds grows

As demand for hospital beds increases across the world, arenas, stadia and conference centres shuttered by the coronavirus are being repurposed for temporary medical use.

Venue operators in countries including Spain (which has over 33,000 cases at press time), the UK (5,683 cases), Croatia (315 cases), the US (33,404 cases) and Brazil (1,629 cases) are handing over their properties to health authorities to be turned into field hospitals for patients with Covid-19.

In Madrid, Ifema, the 2.9 million m² (31.2m sqft) conference and exhibition centre, has become the largest ‘hospital’ in Spain, welcoming its first 126 patients yesterday and another 90 today (23 March).

Working alongside Spain’s Military Emergencies Unit (UME), the government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso, president of the Community of Madrid, installed 300 hospital beds in Ifema the space of 48 hours, with another 1,300 beds expected to be operational by Wednesday.

Though the Ifema hospital is meant for patients with mild symptoms, the venue is also equipped with 96 ICU (intensive care unit) posts, reports El Mundo, with the hospital site covering a total of 35,000m² (376,740sqft).

Authorities credit fangcang with a crucial role in bringing the outbreak in Wuhan under control

Ifema’s transformation is modelled on that of venues in Wuhan, China, where the pandemic originally began late last year.

Wuhan’s 16 fangcang, or shelter hospitals, have been operational since early February, and include hotels, conference centres, arenas, sports stadia and other public venues in the city. According to the Wuhan municipal government, the number of beds in the city, which has a population of more than 11m, reached 30,000 later that month.

Over half of the fangcang beds are now empty, with authorities crediting the shelter hospitals with a crucial role in bringing the outbreak in Wuhan under control.

In Croatia, meanwhile, the 22,000-capacity Arena Zagreb is similarly being transformed into a field hospital with beds for coronavirus patients to free up space in local hospitals, as many of Brazil’s top football teams hand over their stadia while the Série A season is suspended.

Current South American champions Flamengo, who play in red and black, are among the teams giving control of their stadium (in Flamengo’s case, the famous 78,838-seat Maracanã) to health authorities.

“Let us help those who need it most”

“In this grim moment, I wanted to invite our great red and black nation to renew hope and work for better days,” club president Rodolfo Landim explains in an email to Flamengo supporters. “Let us take care of our elderly and help those who need it most.”

New York’s 1.8m sqft (170,000m²) Javits Convention Center, one of the biggest event spaces in the US, is also being turned into a 1,000-bed hospital, with construction due to begin this week – as is the ExCeL Centre in east London, with Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) reportedly planning a 4,000-bed field hospital to cope with the peak of the pandemic in the UK.

Elsewhere in the UK, Welsh rugby club Scarlets says its 14,870-seat stadium, Scarlets Park (Parc y Scarlets), will become a 500-bed hospital, with nearby leisure centres also being used by NHS workers.

“Community has always been a huge part of what the Scarlets is about, and in unprecedented times like these communities stick together,” says Scarlets GM Jon Daniels. “The health service and workers are doing an incredible job in challenging circumstances and we are happy to be offering help and support in any way we can.”

 


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Festival Fever: what to expect from summer 2020

Continuing the series of 2020 line-up announcements, IQ has a look at what Saga Festival, Pitchfork Music Festival and Sea Star Festival have in store, as well as the latest additions to the massive Roskilde and Mad Cool line-ups.

(See the previous edition of Festival Fever here.)

 


Roskilde

When: 27 June to 4 July
Where: Roskilde, Denmark
How many: 85,000

Roskilde Festival has completed the line-up for its mammoth 50th anniversary edition, with Kendrick Lamar, the Strokes, Haim and Charli XCX among those joining the bill.

The Roots, DaBaby, Dave, Brittany Howard and Bicep also form part of the 110-strong group of new additions.

The newly announced artists join Taylor Swift, Pusha T, Faith No More, FKA Twigs and Tyler the Creator for the festival’s half-century celebrations.

“With this year’s line-up, we do what we’ve always done: look ahead,” comments Anders Wahrén, the festival’s head of programming.

“It has been important to us that festival number 50 points to the future, and that is why 2020 will feature the lowest average age ever among the headliners. You don’t have to have 20 years of experience to perform on the main stage. That era is over.”

Tickets for Roskilde Festival 2020 are available here, with a full eight-day festival pass costing DDK2250 (£257).

“2020 will feature the lowest average age ever among the headliners”

Saga Festival

When: 5 to 7 June
Where: Izvor Park, Bucharest, Romania

Saga Festival, a new three-day event promoted by electronic music specialists Alda and Insomniac, is debuting in Bucharest this summer.

Tiësto, Marshmello, Disclosure, Faithless, Meduza and Sigala are among more than 150 acts performing across five stages at the festival, with recently announced artists including Timmy Trumpet, Vini Vici, Laidback Luke, Denis Sulta and Zara Larsson.

The festival has partnered with Romanian waste management charity Reciclad’Or and conservation organisation WWF, as part of its commitment to securing a low ‘festival footprint’ and promoting understanding of the issues facing the planet.

Tickets for Saga Festival are available here, with a three-day pass priced at RON299 (£52) and VIP options costing RON699 (£123).

Tiësto, Marshmello, Disclosure, Faithless, Meduza and Sigala are among more than 150 acts performing at the festival

Pitchfork Music Festival

When: 17 to 19 July
Where: Union Park, Chicago, USA
How many: 20,000

YeahYeahYeahs, Run the Jewels and the National are headlining US magazine Pitchfork’s flagship Chicago festival this year, with other performances coming from Angel Olsen, Danny Brown, Phoebe Bridgers and Badbadnotgood.

2020 marks the 15th year of the Chicago edition of Pitchfork Music Festival. A spin-off event has taken place in Paris since 2011, promoted by Parisian booking and events agency Super!, and a German edition is launching this year in Berlin, featuring Lianne La Havas, Celeste and Modeselektor.

Tickets for Pitchfork Music Festival 2020 are available here, with day tickets costing $75 (£58) and a three-day pass priced at $185 (£144).

2020 marks the 15th year of the Chicago edition of Pitchfork Music Festival

Sea Star Festival

When: 22 to 23 May
Where: Stella Maris lagoon, Umag, Croatia
How many: 20,000

The brainchild of the team behind Serbia’s Exit Festival, Sea Star Festival is preparing for its fourth outing this year in the Croatian seaside town of Umag.

Hip-hop group Cypress Hill are topping the bill, which features acts including Amelie Lens, Meduza, Umek, Dubioza Kolektiv and Farrago. A welcome party and closing party will take place on 21 and 24 May respectively.

Sea Star is part of Exit’s extended festival network, consisting of Serbia’s No Sleep Festival, Romania’s Revolution Festival and Montenegro’s Sea Dance Festival.

Exit Festival will see performances by David Guetta, Tyga, Fatboy Slim and James Arthur for its 20th anniversary edition this year.

Tickets for Sea Star Festival 2020 are available here, priced at €39 (£33) for international fans and €30 (£26) for locals. Ticket prices will increase on 6 March.

The brainchild of the team behind Serbia’s Exit Festival, Sea Star Festival is preparing for its fourth outing this year

Mad Cool

When: 8 to 11 July
Where: Espacio Mad Cool, Madrid Spain
How many: 60,000

Live Nation’s Mad Cool festival has a big year ahead, with an extra day of programming for 2020.

Royal Blood and Mumford & Sons are the most recent additions to the extensive line-up, joining previously announced acts Taylor Swift, the Killers, Kings of Leon, Faith No More, Billie Eilish, Twenty One Pilots, Foals and Anderson Paak.

Other acts appearing across the three days include Wolf Alice, Placebo, Jamie Cullum, Major Lazer and Khalid.

Tickets for Mad Cool 2020 are available here, with a four-day pass costing €179 (£153).

 


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Controversy as Enrique Iglesias shows cancelled

Upcoming shows by Spanish star Enrique Iglesias in Croatia, Belarus and Latvia have been cancelled, as the artist’s representative, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), declares a lack of compliance on behalf of promoter Art BG.

CAA released a statement on Thursday (14 November) calling off concerts at the Zagreb Arena (16,500-cap.) on 1 December; the Minsk Arena (15,000-cap.) on 3 December; and Arena Riga (10,300-cap.) on 5 December, all part of the artist’s All the Hits Live world tour.

A person close to the situation tells IQ that shows in Greece, under the charge of the same promoter, have also been affected.

Art BG has promoted other shows on the All the Hits Live tour in numerous countries, including Bulgaria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Poland.

However, according to Latvian publication Apollo, no information about the concerts in Zagreb, Minsk and Riga had been published on Iglesias’ official website. The concert dates are still advertised on the Art BG website, but the pages they link to no longer exist.

“Sadly and regrettably, after much careful consideration, and exhausting all possible alternatives, we have been forced to cancel the upcoming shows in Zagreb, Riga, and Minsk,” reads the statement that CAA issued to ticket sellers, and published by Latvian platform Bilesu Serviss.

“Art BG has not complied or fulfilled their contractual obligations with the venues or any of the production elements for these three events”

“Art BG, the concert tour promoter, producer and event organiser, has not complied or fulfilled their contractual obligations with the venues or any of the production elements for these three events. All of this makes it impossible to put on the show that our fans deserve.

“Safety for our fans and crew is paramount and we cannot guarantee this for everyone without the promoter fulfilling their obligations. It is simply too big of a risk.”

The agency adds that it is seeking new dates for the shows “in the near future”.

“Together, with vendors and venues, we are devoted to making the responsible party, Art BG, held responsible for their actions,” concludes the statement.

Ticketing platform Bilesu Serviss has approached the police to obtain a legal assessment of the situation and “possible fraud by Art BG”. Until more information is available, no refunds will be made for tickets purchased on the Bilesu Serviss platform. Details about refunds will appear on the ticketer’s website and sent to all ticket holders in due course.

IQ has contacted Art BG and CAA for comment.

 


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Exit 2.0: back to the future of the Balkans’ biggest festival

Exit Festival, a live music event spawned from the desire for peace and freedom in the Balkans, is turning twenty years old this year, with a brand new set of social aims appearing at the top of its agenda.

Founded by Dusan Kovačević, Ivan Milivojev, Bojan Boskovic and Milos Ignjatovic in 2000, the first edition of Exit Festival took place in University Park in the Serbian city of Novi Sad, with the objective of connecting like-minded Balkan people and encouraging political engagement among the youth.

“Exit was the first mass gathering of young people from former Yugoslavian countries after the Balkans War [which took place from 1991-1999],” Sagor Mešković, the festival’s chief communications officer, explains to IQ. “It started off as a youth activism movement for peace in Serbia and the Balkans.”

“After ten years of war and isolation in the region, the first edition of the festival was characterised by a feeling that normal life was back again,” adds Exit co-founder Kovačević. “Emotions were so high, that most of the artists said that they played the best concert of their tour , or even their whole career, at the event.”

Twenty years on, Exit Festival has just enjoyed its biggest year yet, welcoming 200,000 fans to its permanent site at Novi Sad’s Petrovaradin Fortress for four days of performances from the likes of the Cure, Carl Cox, Amelie Lens, the Chainsmokers and Greta van Fleet.

“After ten years of war and isolation in the region, the first edition of the festival was characterised by a feeling that normal life was back again”

Adding to its flagship event, the Exit team have now developed an extended festival network, providing “the biggest cultural bridge between the countries of the former Yugoslavia” in the form of No Sleep Festival in Serbia, Sea Star in Croatia, Revolution Festival in Romania and Sea Dance Festival in Montenegro.

This unique history and ethos is the driving force behind the desire for Exit to remain independent.

“Exit didn’t start for profit,” states Kovačević. “I respect the investment funds that are taking over festivals – they are still doing great shows and people are having fun – but we have decided to stay independent because we know the festival world needs something like this.”

With so much history behind them, the twentieth anniversary of Exit Festival is “important on so many levels, not just for us, but for the whole region,” says Kovačević.

Exit 2.0, as the anniversary event is dubbed, will look to the future as well as celebrating of the past, a fact reflected in the very programming of the festival. “We are going to bring back some of the acts that marked our history and mix them together with those who are making an impact in this day and age,” states Kovačević.

With over 20 stages and even more genres of music, Exit’s line-ups are broad and diverse, frequently seeing pop stars and leading electronic acts headlining alongside rock, and even metal, bands. A dedicated Latin stage has been present at Exit since day one, which now seems “almost prophetic”, given the global Latin music rise we see today.

“I respect the investment funds that are taking over festivals, but we have decided to stay independent because we know the festival world needs something like this”

Although line-ups are always eclectic, the billing never tends towards the generic due to the team’s habit of booking based on “gut feeling”, in addition to using data, metrics and ticket sales figures. “The irrational part of us is the one that makes a good line-up,” states Mešković. On a more personal level, the team also strive to work with the artists “who have a similar ethos to ours.”

For Exit, it is vital to “be one with the audience”, making sure every decision is guided by the wants and needs of the fan. To this end, the festival aims to keep tickets affordable, especially for the local audience. “We never want to lose our local fans,” says Kovačević, “because if we did, we would lose our soul.”

In addition to its core audience of locals, Exit’s fan base has become more and more international over the years. Fans travel to Serbia from elsewhere in Europe, as well as from Asia, America and Australia to attend the event.

“We are bringing a lot of tourism into the country,” says the Exit co-founder, explaining that the boost the festival has given to the country’s international reputation is often compared to that made by Serbian tennis champion Novak Djokovic.

Together with the tennis player, Exit Festival has now set up a foundation to help build nursery schools in Serbia, one example of the festival’s continuation of its social activist roots.

“We know that through a good party and the love of music, you really can engage people in a meaningful way and make a difference”

Another example is Life Stream, the environmental campaign launched by Exit at Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) in October. “The Life Stream project aims to put the festival industry at the forefront of the fight for life on the planet,” explains Kovačević.

The idea is to inject imagery, text and data relating to environmental issues into live streams from music festivals, to harness the “visibility and influence” they have for the good of the planet.

“We don’t want to show despair only,” says Mešković, “we also want to show there is some hope and to mobilise people to take action – because there is still time.”

The upcoming edition of Exit will serve as a major platform for the project, with both Kovačević and Mešković hoping other festivals will follow suit.

“We know that through a good party and the love of music, you really can engage people in a meaningful way and make a difference.”

Exit 2.0 takes place from 9 to 12 July 2020 in Novi Sad, Serbia.

 


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Fire forces evacuation of Croatian hip-hop fest

Attendees of Fresh Island festival in Croatia were today (16 July) evacuated following the breakout of a fire close to the festival site.

Organisers of the 7,000-capacity hip hop festival transported fans offsite after reports emerged last night (15 July) of a forest fire near to the festival site on Zrce beach, on the Croatian island of Pag.

Emergency services were still working to contain the fire this morning.

Following the evacuation, the Fresh Island team said they were unsure how the fire would affect today’s beach performances. Headliner Tyga was due to play at Papaya nightclub (4,000-cap.), one of the evacuated venues. Other artists scheduled to perform include Tory Lanez, Stefflon Don and Hardy Caprio.

 

“We would like to say a big thank you to all Fresh Islanders who were at the festival for being so patient and supportive of each other and for cooperating with security and emergency services during the fire to stay safe,” read a festival Twitter post.

Organisers have confirmed that no casualties have occurred and “everyone is safe”. Updates will be published through the festival’s social media pages.

Fresh Island festival is scheduled to take place from until Thursday 17 July. Past acts to play the festival include  Wiz Khalifa, Migos, ASAP Rocky, Snoop Dogg, Stormzy and Giggs.

Update: festival organisers announce that, following the clearance of the fire, Fresh Island is “to continue as planned with no further disruptions.”

 


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‘He was a beautiful man’: Croatian promoter Jordan Rodic passes

Croatian concert promoter Jordan Rodić, responsible for bringing international greats including Sting, U2, Depeche Mode, Jamiroquai and Ennio Morricone to his home country, has died aged 43.

Rodić, the CEO of Premium Events and GigArt, and a longstanding ILMC member, took his own life in January after falling into depression following the last-minute cancellation of a planned show at the Roman amphitheatre in Rodić’s hometown, Pula, in August.

Zagreb-based artist manager, booker and promoter Hrvoje Hum, a longtime friend and colleague of Rodić, explains: “They [the artist’s management] sent him the contract one month prior to the show, and he was obliged to pay a percentage – 30–40% – immediately, and the rest a month before the show. As you know, in our business, it is ‘normal’ to be one or two weeks late with payment, we all collect money from the presale and then pay artists. Most of the biggest management [companies] tolerate this, especially if they know that have done many shows with them and you will work with them in the future.

“Unfortunately, management didn’t want to wait, and cancelled the show five days before it was supposed to happen. At that moment, Jordan personally lost at least €80,000…

“After that, he became depressed. He had two shows agreed for winter, and wanted to cancel them. […] I thought he would be fine, because we had some big plans for this and next year, and he was really excited about it. I don’t know why he did it [commited suicide] – a few hours before, we were on the phone and he looked forward to our next projects…”

Perhaps the biggest highlight of Rodić’s four-decade career in the live industry was selling out Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb with U2, where he and two other colleagues sold more than 120,000 tickets over two nights in 2009.

“He was a loving, caring, gentle, kind, beautiful man with a big heart”

He was also the driving force behind Marilyn Manson’s landmark Croatian show in 2005, as well as the local leg of the Bodies Revealed exhibition, which sold more than 800,000 tickets in a few months.

Jadranka Rodić, Jordan’s twin sister, describes her late brother as a “beautiful shining soul”.

“He has done so much for his family, friends, his city and his country,” she says. “He has achieved the unachievable: he worked and brought so many big stars  to Croatia and other countries, as music was his life and passion. He was a visionary man, of no limits, and his creativity and passion was so admirable.

“But, most of all he was a loving, caring, gentle, kind, beautiful man with a big heart. He was loved for who he was, all over the world, and he always will be. People respected him, and his energy was palpable. His heart, energy and vision were out of this world. He has done so much for all of us and the country, and he will be greatly missed.”

Jadranka tells IQ she hopes her brother’s death will raise awareness of the pressures facing all those working in the live industry, and the toll they can take on mental and physical health and wellbeing.

“The stresses, the risks and the pressure had made an impact on his mental health, and contributed to the outcome [his death],” she says. “But his vision was so advanced, and his actions so big, I can be only proud to be his sister. He brought energy, love, passion and new horizons to Croatia, and all of us can only be proud to have had such inspiration.”

“I know this business is ruthless, but the whole system has to change”

While Hum says the music industry is full of good people – Scott Mantell at ICM Partners, for example, was “really helpful” when Rodić, who counted Mantell as a friend, was struggling with mental illness and wanted to postpone two shows by Postmodern Jukebox in Zagreb and Belgrade – he warns that promoters are often seen as “replaceable”, despite their taking the risk on the show.

He says: “We are replaceable – they [agents] will find another promoter, who will pay a fee and [be prepared] to lose everything they have, or even doesn’t have. They don’t care about it. On the other side, I understand that they are responsible to the management, and they have to bring them money – I know this business is ruthless, but I think the whole system has to change.

“The tragic death of Jordan Rodić, and probably more promoters, has to contribute towards this, because all of us risk too much money just to bring culture to our area.”

Despite this ruthlessness, Rodić “loved what he did,” concludes Jadranka. “Music was truly his passion, and he lived it. He gave it his all, as he could see a higher vision and was fearless.

“He saw no limitations – as he knew music was life.”

 


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