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“Negative media reports” blamed as XO Festival axed

Contra Costa Event Park in Antioch, California, has pulled the plug on XO Music Festival, amid doubts over promoters’ ability to stage the festival, allegations of non-payment of performers and a slew of critical media coverage comparing the event to the infamous Fyre Festival in the Bahamas.

The hip hop-focused festival, to have been headlinedby  Ludacris, TI and Mistah FAB, was due to kick off tomorrow, with fans having paid up to US$2,500 for VIP tickets to a festival that promised a star-studded line-up, high-end food and wine and a range of attractions, including seven stages of music, amusement rides and a “color arena” [sic] featuring Holi-style paint throwing.

According to San Francisco broadcaster KQED, as of 10 of July the park was bare, “with no evidence of the three stages with pyrotechnics, a color arena, a foam pit, a bounce house or carnival rides that marketing materials promised”.

Several artists, including Trinere and Lords of Sealand, had already dropped out – citing lack of payment and signed contracts – while comedian Paco Romane tweeted that despite his image appearing on the event’s website (misspelt as Paco Roman), he is on tour elsewhere and was never scheduled to perform.

Another performer, TroyLLF was told by the festival to buy his own ticket, reports KQED. “To me it seems super-sketchy and unprofessional,” says the rapper. “And like a money[-making] scheme.”

In a press release issued yesterday, Contra Costa Event Park says it was left with “no choice but to cancel” XO due to promoter World Class Entertainment, led by Habibullah Said Qadir (aka Sami Habib), failing to fulfil contractual obligations. (According to Amplify, Habib is currently out on bail, charged with operating a fraudulent rental scheme that involved leasing multiple properties under fake names then never paying rent.)

In a statement confirming the cancellation, XO/World Class blame poor ticket sales caused by hostile reporting on the event. “Despite our best efforts to organise a fun event that would be enjoyed by thousands of people, the venue’s cancellation and the many negative media reports targeting the XO Music Festival unfortunately [do] not allow us to proceed with the festival at this time,” it reads.

“For months, our employees and agents have worked extremely hard to book artists, promote the festival, create marketing materials, secure vendors and otherwise do the things that are needed to put on a festival of this magnitude. For that, we are deeply thankful. We know in our hearts that the festival would have been a huge success regardless of this negative media causing lower that anticipated advance ticket sales. Our team was fully prepared but unfortunately the venue would not allow us on the grounds.”

Refunds are being processed by the festival’s ticketing partner, GrowTix, which says all monies were held in escrow in case of cancellation.


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