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Live Nation-owned Secret Sounds unveils new event

Secret Sounds, the promoter behind Australian festivals Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival, has revealed details about its new Adelaide-based event, Summer Sounds.

The Live Nation-owned company has teamed up with Adelaide-based promoters Five Four Entertainment and Groove to deliver a concert series featuring more than 20 shows which kicks off in the late December summer season.

Timmy Trumpet, Lime Cordiale, Hot Dub Time Machine, The Jungle Giants, The Veronicas, Ocean Alley, Human Nature, Bernard Fanning, Mallrat, Spiderbait, Hayden James, Ball Park Music, Dune Rats will perform at Bonython Park/Tulya Wodli between 30 December and 30 January.

Each concert will feature party pods, which have been described as ‘an island oasis for a group of 4 or 6 people’ that is ‘decked out with its own esky of pre-ordered drinks and tasty snacks’. The event has been approved by South Australia health officials.

Each concert will feature party pods, which have been described as ‘an island oasis for a group of 4 or 6 people’

The announcement follows the news that Secret Sounds recently received AU$1.5 million from the federal government’s RISE fund to develop a new festival in 2021 ‘that would keep audiences connected while also reaching new audiences across Australia and overseas’.

Live Nation bought a majority stake in the New South Wales-based company in 2016, acquiring a 51% stake in Splendour in the Grass and Falls, as well as its touring, sponsorship, PR, artist management and agency divisions.

The 2020 Splendour festival was called off in June and will instead now go ahead next year with headliners, Gorillaz.

Meanwhile, though the December/January Falls Festival events were set to move forward with an all-Australian line-up, they were also called off in August.

 


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Live music hit by Australian bushfires

A Day On the Green festival in Victoria is the latest live music event to fall foul of the bushfires raging through Australia.

Australian rock bands Cold Chisel, Birds of Tokyo and Magic Dirt were scheduled to perform today (7 January) at A Day On the Green at the All Saints Estate in Rutherglen, in the south east of Australia.

Michael Newton, co-director of A Day On the Green organiser Roundhouse Entertainment, says the promoter is “extremely disappointed” to cancel the event.

“Our first priority is the safety of patrons, staff and artists and with air quality on the site and in surrounding areas now at a hazardous level, we have no other option but to cancel today’s show,” comments Newton.

The cancellation A Day On the Green, which has hosted the likes of Robbie Williams, Red Hot Chili Peppers, James Morrison and Florence and the Machine since launching in 2001, follows that of the Lorne leg of Falls Festival in December. The festival was set to feature artists including Halsey, Vampire Weekend, Lewis Capaldi, Peking Duk, John Farnham and Disclosure.

“Our first priority is the safety of patrons, staff and artists and with air quality now at a hazardous level, we have no other option but to cancel today’s show”

Multiple benefit concerts have cropped up in the wake of festival cancellations in order to raise money for bushfire relief.

Yesterday, Australian promoter TEG announced Fire Fight Australia, which will take place at Sydney’s 83,500-capacity ANZ Stadium on 16 February.

Singer Tones and I today revealed she will play a charity show at Melbourne’s 1,050-capacity 170 Russell on Tuesday 28 January, supported by Adrian Eagle. All proceeds from the event will be donated to rural fire services and the Australian Red Cross.

Tones and I also appeared at a benefit concert hosted by electronic duo Peking Duk in December, which raised AUD $50,000 (US$34,365) for firefighters tackling the blazes.

US singer Halsey and British rapper Yungblud are among other artists to have hosted impromptu charity shows in Melbourne in place of their Fall Festival appearances.

A Day On the Green ticketholders will receive a full refund via Ticketmaster in due course.

 


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Parklands bids to retain Falls and Splendour

North Byron Parklands – the 650-acre greenfield site which has since 2013 been home to one of Australia’s leading music festivals, Secret Sounds’ Splendour in the Grass – is hoping to be granted permission for a permanent 50,000-cap. festival venue, despite opposition from some councillors and local residents.

Parklands, which is also home to the Byron Bay leg of Falls Festival, submitted its A$42 million (US$33.4m) proposal before Christmas, which, if approved, would allow the site to host Splendour and Falls permanently, along with limited one-day concerts and smaller cultural and community events for up to 20 further days.

The application follows the end of a five-year trial period, which started in 2012, that required a series of trial events to be monitored and reviewed to test the site’s suitability.

“We feel we have done an outstanding job in managing our environmental impact, which has been reflected through a range of improvements covering traffic, noise and community amenity during the trial,” comments Parklands general manager Mat Morris. “We now hope to be able to operate on a permanent basis so that we can invest in improvements to the site which will further enhance this world-class cultural venue.”

However, the tender process has been criticised by local authorities, which lack jurisdiction over the site, as anti-democratic, with responsibility for approving the proposal falling to New South Wales (NSW)’s Department of Planning and Environment.

“Hundreds of jobs and more than $100 million in economic benefits would leave the region”

“Because the NSW government is currently the consent authority for events held on the North Byron Parklands site, Byron Shire Council has limited input to what occurs aside from compliance issues, including traffic management and noise to minimise disruption to residents,” a Byron Shire Council spokeswoman tells the Sydney Morning Herald.

The paper also quotes Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson as saying he “strenuously oppose[s] the circumvention of local government decision-making”.

Local resident Denise Nessel adds that the festivals further stress the infrastructure of an area “already overrun by tourists”. “Many of us who live near the site are not pleased with the ever-larger numbers of festival goers who use our roads, camp on our streets and beaches and swarm into nearby towns in great numbers, and we are not looking forward to twice as many festival days, as are proposed, and still more in future,” she says.

If the proposal is rejected, Morris suggests Falls and Splendour will be forced to relocate from NSW, north to neighbouring Queensland. “Hundreds of jobs and more than $100 million in economic benefits will leave a region with high youth unemployment and a range of businesses dependant on these events,” he says.

Secret Sounds has since December 2016 been majority owned by Live Nation, with Splendour and Falls becoming its first Australian festivals.

 


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‘No evidence’ of failings in Falls crush, finds Vic govt

WorkSafe Victoria, an agency of the state government of Victoria, Australia, has dropped its investigation into the organisers of Falls Festival, finding there is “insufficient evidence” to pursue a prosecution over the crowd crush last December.

The incident, which left 76 people injured (initially reported as 80), 19 of them seriously, occurred after a performance by DMA’s on Friday 30 December when large crowds attempted to exit the Grand Theatre in Lorne through a small exit, recently narrowed further by the construction of a new bar.

In an interview with The Guardian in January, victim Tim Hunt described the stampede as being “like a riptide”, speaking of his horror at people’s screams and “bones snapping from [the] pressure”. Festival co-producer Jessica Ducrou said the festival was “completely devastated” by the incident and promised to launched its own investigation into the causes.

In addition to a private class-action lawsuit on behalf of injured festivalgoers, organiser Ash Sounds – a division of promoter Secret Sounds – faced an inquiry by WorkSafe Victoria, which was investigating possible offences under the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act.

“All the conditions … such as crowd control, crowd size, and positioning and size of exits, had been met

Announcing the results of the investigation yesterday, WorkSafe says it has determined there is “insufficient evidence” to pursue a prosecution, finding that “all the conditions imposed by various bodies in relation to the event, such as crowd control, crowd size, and positioning and size of exits, had been met” by Ash Sounds.

WorkSafe visited the festival site shortly after the incident and requested changes to its lay-out to prevent future crowd surges, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

“As a result, WorkSafe found there was insufficient evidence to establish any offence under the 2004 OHS Act and no further action will be taken,” concludes WorkSafe’s statement.

The class-action suit, meanwhile, which seeks unspecified damages from Secret Sounds, is still ongoing.

Live Nation acquired a 51% stake in Secret Sounds last December.

 


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Crush victims sue Falls Festival promoter

Sixty-five people involved in a crush at December’s Falls Festival in Lorne, Australia, are suing promoters for alleged negligence.

The incident, which left more than 80 people injured, occurred after a performance by DMA’s on Friday 30 December when large crowds attempted to exit the Grand Theatre venue through a small exit, recently narrowed further by the construction of a new bar.

In an interview with The Guardian in January, victim Tim Hunt described the stampede as being “like a riptide”, speaking of his horror at people’s screams and “bones snapping from [the] pressure”. Festival co-producer Jessica Ducrou said the festival was “completely devastated” by the incident and promised to launched its own investigation into the causes.

“The allegation is that if proper care and attention had been taken to configuring the area where the acts were taking place … this stampede would not have occurred”

Now, as the Herald Sun reports, law firm Maddens is seeking compensation from promoter Secret Sounds – potentially in the millions of dollars – on behalf of a group of festivalgoers caught in the crush.

“The allegation is that if proper care and attention had been taken to configuring the area where the acts were taking place, and the scheduling of the successive acts, this stampede would not have occurred, that this was entirely avoidable,” Maddens lawyer Brendan Pendergast told Triple J radio. “That’s the basis of this action: predominantly in negligence of the organisers.”

The case mirrors an ongoing lawsuit by victims against Lopavent, the promoter of the tragic Love Parade 2010 – although the crush at that festival led to 21 deaths.

Live Nation acquired a 51% stake in Secret Sounds last December.

 


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Stampede at Falls Festival injures 80 people

A stampede at Secret Sounds’ Falls Music and Arts Festival in Australia on 30 December  has injured 80 people.

The incident took place after a performance by DMA’s on Friday and was caused by crowds leaving the Grand Theatre.

Falls Festival Co-Producer Jessica Ducrou responded to the incident yesterday, and pointed to “misinformation in the media” that suggested the event didn’t have adequate safety measures in place.

“We are completely devastated by the crowd crush that occurred, and we are beyond shattered that a number of our festival patrons were injured and impacted by this event.”

“With over 20 years of experience running festivals behind us, we are completely devastated by the crowd crush that occurred with patrons exiting The Grand Theatre, and we are beyond shattered that a number of our festival patrons were injured and impacted by this event,” Ducrou said via a Facebook post.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to clear up some of the misinformation that has been appearing in the media.

“Patron safety is paramount to Falls, we spend a lot of time engaging with local authorities, emergency services, on a local and State level, specialist consultants, local and State Council and various other community services to ensure we are offering the safest environment for our patrons.

“Thanks to the level planning and support from those parties, The Falls Festival in Lorne has had an impeccable safety record for the past 24 years.”

Security measures included 15 security guards, the immediate suspension of programming on Friday night, a medical structure on site as well as ambulance, medical, police and fire staff members.

The event has promised to launch an investigation into the various contributing factors and has called for those affected to get in touch via email or on Facebook.

Ducrou added: “To those that were affected, on behalf of The Falls Festival, we would like to apologise and let you know that we are deeply upset by this incident and your experience.

“There will be a full debrief of the incident and an investigation into what the causes were which will update you all on, as soon as we have that outcome.”

 


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Live Nation buys first Australian festivals

Live Nation has bought into the Australian festival market with the acquisition of a majority stake in Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival promoter Secret Sounds.

In addition to adding Splendour in the Grass and Falls to its growing festival business, the acquisition of a 51% stake in Secret Sounds also includes the New South Wales-based company’s touring, sponsorship, PR, artist management and agency divisions.

The live entertainment giant, whose Australian/New Zealand arm is headquartered in Melbourne, most recently added to its portfolio of 80+ festivals with the acquisition of Sweden Rock just under two weeks ago.

“Splendour in the Grass and Falls are the two most iconic festivals in Australia,” says Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino. Jess [Ducrou] and Paul [Piticco] have created events that attract the biggest artists in the world but still feel uniquely Australian. We look forward to partnering with them to find new ways to grow our live event footprint across Australia.”

“We started Secret Sounds with the sole mission of introducing Australians to the best artists, events and music possible, and Live Nation is the perfect partner to help us take this goal to the next level”

Co-CEOs Ducrou and Piticco add: “We started Secret Sounds with the sole mission of introducing Australians to the best artists, events and music possible, and Live Nation is the perfect partner to help us take this goal to the next level. With their support we can continue to curate the line-ups that fans love while also experimenting with new exciting ways for fans to experience live music.”

Around 33,000 people attended Splendour in the Grass 2016 in Byron Bay, which was headlined by The Strokes, The Cure and Flume.

Falls, a multi-city event with festivals in Lorne, Victoria; Marion Bay, Tasmania; Byron Bay in New South Wales; and Fremantle in Western Austria, attracts more than 60,000 festivalgoers per day. Recent headliners include Disclosure, Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon, Childish Gambino and London Grammar.

 


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Festival Focus: Bluesfest, Falls, Boardmasters

Just as the season starts to draw to a close in the northern hemisphere (and IQ wonders whether it might be time to retire Festival Focus for the year), our cousins in Australia have gone and surprised us with not one, but two, major announcements as they gear up for their own summer of festivals.

First up is Secret Sounds’ multi-city Falls Festival, which will take place in Lorne, Victoria; Marion Bay, Tasmania; Byron Bay, New South Wales; and Fremantle, Western Australia on 28–31 December, 29–31 December, 31 December–2 January and 7–8 January, respectively.

Its first full line-up announcement, released yesterday, includes a mix of homegrown and international festival regulars, among them The AvalanchesCatfish and the Bottlemen, Jamie TGrandmaster FlashThe JezabelsLondon GrammarBroods, The DMA’sAlison Wonderland and Grouplove.

Jezebels, Marcel van Leeuwen

On the same day, the long-running Byron Bay Bluesfest also released its first batch of artists, which includes Patti Smith (performing seminal album Horses), the Grammy award-winning Zac Brown Band, The Lumineers, Buddy Guy, Jethro Tull, Gregory Porter, Laura Mvula, Roy Ayers and more.

The 28th Bluesfest, promoted by Peter Noble, will be held from 13 to 17 April on the Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm in Byron Bay, New South Wales.

“It must be hard to believe – but it is very true – that months, and in a few cases years, of work have gone into this artist announcement,” says Noble. “It has taken over three years to get the very in-demand Patti Smith confirmed, a similar time also for Billy Bragg.”

Brian Wilson, Hoyos del Espino 2012, feiticeirA

With just over a week to go until the debut of new British festival Together the People, promoter One Inch Badge has released a Spotify playlist highlighting some of the acts who’ll be playing, including UK exclusive Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds in full.

Other names on the bill for the Brighton event, which will take place in the 5,000-capacity Preston Park on 3 and 4 September, include Suede, The Horrors, Peter Hook & The Light (performing the hits of Joy Division and New Order), Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and Songhoy Blues(Brian Wilson photo by feiticeirA.)

Listen to the playlist below:

Vision Nine’s music/water sports festival Boardmasters has announced its dates for 2017 following a sell-out 2016 event that attracted 150,000 people to the seaside town of Newquay in Cornwall.

In addition to surfing and waterskiing competitions and music from Chase & Status, Deadmau5 and James Bay, Boardmasters 2016 featured for the first time a ‘wellbeing area’ offering massages, facials, reiki and yoga and a silent disco on the Land of Saints stage.

Next year’s festival will take place from 9 to 13 August.

The Fratellis, Radio 1 Interactive

M People frontwoman Heather Smalls, Glaswegian indie three-piece The Fratellis and ’80s teen idol Paul Young are among the latest acts confirmed for the fifth Gibraltar Music Festival (GMF).

GMF 2016 is set for next weekend at the UK overseas territory’s 5,000-capacity Victoria Stadium. Ne-Yo, Stereophonics, Travis, Jess Glynne and Bryan Ferry will headline. (The Fratellis photo by Radio 1 Interactive.)

Abba, Fernando Pereira/Anefo

And in news that will never happen – partly because some bands involved hate each other, but mainly because many of them are dead – the British public has chosen its dream festival line-up in a survey conducted by Barclaycard.

On the fantasy bill are (in descending order of prominence) are AbbaBob Marley (Wailers optional), The BeatlesMichael JacksonThe Bee GeesElvis PresleyEminemDavid BowieMadness and Rihanna.

So, Abba headlining, The Beatles warming up for Bob Marley and Bowie presumably just about scraping onto the main stage. Got it. (Abba photo by Fernando Pereira/Anefo.)

 


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‘Hardcore festies’ also key to Australian success

Mirroring the trend seen in the UK and US, festival super-fans – dubbed ‘hardcore festies’ – are driving the majority of festival business in Australia, despite making up only 14% of festivalgoers, research by Eventbrite reveals.

The ticketing company’s State of Australian Music Festivals 2016 study found that while Australian hardcore festies represent a smaller proportion of the overall market than in Britain and America (where they comprise 28% and 20% of festivalgoers, respectively), they still “outrank casual fans in VIP purchasing, social influence and virtually every other aspect of spending, attending and engagement”, with an average annual festival ticket spend of over A$600 (US$459 or £348).

Eventbrite also revealed that, despite the recent disappearance of high-profile music festivals such as Stereosonic and Soundwave, demand remains strong, with 65% of respondents going to the same number or more music festivals this year compared to 2015 and 49% planning to attend more festivals next year.

“While people have a growing appetite for festivals, there are also more festivals than ever before… which is why the hardcore festival fan is so critical”

As in Britain and America, headliners are the number one reason (35%) for attending festivals, with the artist line-up as a whole most important overall (46%).

Hardcore festies’ favourite festivals are (in order) Stereosonic, Groovin the Moo, Soundwave, Falls Festival and Splendour in the Grass.

“While people have a growing appetite for festivals, there are also more festivals than ever before,” says the report, “making it harder for festival producers to turn a profit – which is why the hardcore festival fan is critical to the success of your business.”

Read the report in full at Australian Festival Fans Revealed: What Drives the Most Valuable Festival-Goers to Spend and Attend More.

 


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