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Former Soviet sanatorium transformed into venue

Khvylia, a former Soviet sanatorium on the outskirts of Kyiv, has been converted into a live music venue by the team behind the world-renowned Georgian club, Bassiani.

The Bassiani team christened the Ukrainian physiatric hospital by welcoming several thousand attendees last weekend (23–25 July) to a new techno-heavy festival called Ickpa (‘spark’ in Ukrainian).

The festival stages were arranged inside Khyvlia’s main building and across the forest surrounding the sanatorium.

Festivalgoers had the opportunity to camp in the forest or stay in the sanatorium for two nights for UAH 2,700 (€84) – all rooms sold out.

“Ickpa chose to be located in Kyiv because of its connecting location between western Europe and post-Socialist space”

The organisers established the two-day event in the hope that it would become an annual platform for dialogue between the west and the emerging electronic scenes in post-Soviet countries such as Georgia and Ukraine.

“Ickpa chose to be located in Kyiv because of its connecting location between western Europe and post-Socialist space,” say the organisers.

“We believe that the connecting point is not only geographical but, first and foremost, cultural. This proximity involves the potential for the city to become a melting pot, where social and cultural experience accumulated throughout the year is communicated through dance,” said the organisers.

The event brought together more than 40 DJs including Jeff Mills, Nastia and Salome, as well as a charity Futsal tournament and panel discussions “empowering cultural dialogue and communication between post-Socialist dance cultures”.


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‘Satanic’ metal band arrested on terror charges in Georgia

Two members of veteran Greek extreme metal band Rotting Christ were detained on terrorism charges ahead of show in Georgia last Thursday, after authorities accused them of practising satanism, their record label has said.

According to a statement from Season of Mist, frontman Sakis Tolis was detained alongside his brother, drummer Themis, after being arrested on arrival in Tbilisi on Thursday 12 June on charges allegedly relating to their band name.

Sakis explains: “After the regular document check at the border, my brother and I were stopped by the police on our way out from the airport. After some minutes, we were ordered to follow police to another area of the airport under the pretence of further questioning before entering the country. Instead, we had our passports and mobile phones taken away and were led into a prison cell.

“When we demanded to be told the reason for this arrest, we were simply told this information would be ‘confidential’. Our lawyers informed us later that we are on a list of unwanted persons [regarded a threat to] national security that branded us as satanists and therefore suspects of terrorism.”

The incident has echoes of the controversy around heavy metal music in Egypt, where metal acts have found themselves arrested and shows shut down after being branded devil worshippers by conservative Muslims.

Around 84% of Georgians are Orthodox Christians, although the constitution of the former Soviet republic safeguards freedom of belief and religion.

“There is “no jail that can stop our endless lust for metal”

Sakis says the pair were locked in a “small and rather dirty cell, and without being permitted any contact to the outside world or legal representation or our embassy for 12 hours”, before the promoters of the RedRum event, Sweden’s Terror Crew Promotions and Georgia’s Locomotive Promotion, intervened and the band were released without charge.

“Due to the hard work of the local promoter, who involved legal experts, journalists, and activists in Georgia, we were finally released,” he explains. “We are extremely grateful to everybody involved in this process. In the end, we were even able to perform our show and it turned out to be a fantastic night.”

In a follow-up statement, Sakis says there is “no jail that can stop our endless lust for metal, and we promise that we will always be frontline in the battle against any kind of god-fearing regimes, as well as any kind of terrorism, independent of where they come from. Freedom of speech to everyone, brothers.”

Rotting Christ are regarded as pioneers of black metal in Greece and the Balkans, and have released 12 studio albums since their formation in 1987. Their name has previously attracted controversy in the US, when Gary Bauer, a minor Republican presidential candidate in the 2000 elections, accused the band of being “anti-Catholic”, and Malta, where Roman Catholic groups have protested against their shows.

They were also forced to cancel an appearance in Greece in 2005 after Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine – an outspoken born-again Christian – refused to play on the same bill.


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Florida venues open doors as Irma batters state

Sports and entertainment venues were used as shelter for Floridians seeking refuge from Hurricane Irma, which tore through the Caribbean and south-eastern United States over the weekend.

Irma, a category-five hurricane and the most intense observed in the Atlantic in more than a decade, forced the cancellation of shows, festivals and sports matches in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, and is believed to have left nearly 50 people dead, including 11 Americans.

In Florida, more than 6.5 million people were under mandatory evacuation orders, and many rode out the worst of the storm in shelters in Alico Arena (4,500-cap.) in Fort Myers and Germain Arena (concert cap. 8,500+) in Estero, with shelter staff assisted by National Guardsmen, sheriff’s deputies and motorway police. Both venues were reportedly at capacity by Saturday afternoon.

One person taking shelter in Germain Arena, Krystal Malpass, told the Fort Myers News-Press she didn’t know what to expect from the shelter but that staff had been “extremely nice”.

In Florida more than 6.5m people were under evacuation orders, and many rode out the storm in arenas

An estimated 800 people also sough refuge at the Sun Dome (10,411-cap.) arena at the University of South Florida in Tampa, while aseball team Detroit Tigers opened their clubhouses in Lakeland, Florida, to evacuees and emergency staff.

While the state’s arenas, including the 20,000-cap. American Airlines Arena in Miami, weathered the worst of the storm relatively unscathed, there have been reports of damage at several open-air venues.

Marlins Park, a 37,442-cap. stadium in Miami, reportedly suffered around 6% damage to its retractable roof, while the Hard Rock Stadium (65,326-cap.) in Miami Gardens is under inspection by structural engineers for potential damage.

At the time of writing, Irma had been downgraded to a tropical storm – although three million people are thought to have been left homeless in the US alone, with many more affected in the Caribbean and other Atlantic islands.


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Liberty eyeing more music in ATL with The Battery

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei has told investors Liberty is “increasingly a company [involved] in live performance”, as he unveiled plans to leverage his company’s stake in Live Nation to bring more live music to Atlanta, Georgia.

In an investors’ meeting yesterday afternoon, Maffei said The Battery – an under-construction entertainment district surrounding the new SunTrust Park (41,149-cap.) stadium, home to the Liberty-owned Atlanta Braves baseball team – said his focus is on “getting the rest of The Battery leased [and] seeing increased events around the whole experience, like more concerts from Live Nation”, with the promoter a “big part of” the company’s future plans.

The Battery has already hosted several live events, with John Mayer, TI, Glass Animals and comedian Dave Chappelle already having placed the 3,000-cap. Coca-Cola Roxy venue and a “strong line-up of concerts” planned for the summer and autumn, Maffei said.

The stadium itself, operated by Liberty’s Atlanta National League Baseball Club Inc. company, has also hosted headline shows by Billy Joel and Metallica.

“The Braves have begun a path to creating an awful lot of experience which is more than just putting a baseball team on the field”

Other major stadia in Atlanta include Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium (55,000-cap.) and GWCCA’s Georgia Dome (80,000-cap.), the latter soon to be replaced by the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“Liberty is increasingly a company which has investment and operations in live performance, whether it’d be live concerts or live sporting,” Maffei told investors. “And I think you’ll see that the Braves have begun a path to create an awful lot of experience which is more than just putting a baseball team on the field. [The] Battery’s a part of that.”

In addition to Live Nation, Liberty’s other investments include motorsports series Formula 1, which it agreed to acquire last September, and satellite radio service Sirius XM, which last month pumped US$480 million into Pandora as the company sold off Ticketfly.

Live Nation rival AEG has of late been investingly heavily in Battery-style mixed-use entertainment districts, including in Tennessee’s Nashville Yards and Puerto Rican capital San Juan.


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Ticketmaster for new Atlanta stadium

Ticketmaster has been named the exclusive ticketing partner of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, set to open in late August.

The multi-year agreement with the stadium’s operator, AMB Sports & Entertainment (AMBS&E), sees Ticketmaster becoming the official ticketer for American football team Atlanta Falcons, football team Atlanta United and other live events, including concerts, at the 71,000-cap.venue.

AMBS&E will also leverage Ticketmaster’s marketing and distribution reach to establish an ticket resale platform on which fans can “buy and sell verified tickets in a safe environment”, reads a statement from the company.

“We selected Ticketmaster because of their longstanding, proven track record in the ticket industry,” says Tim Zulawski, AMBS&E’s chief commercial officer. “They are making significant investments into both their consumer and venue platforms, improving the overall experience as well as enabling the organisation to reach and protect our fans more effectively through a robust secondary marketplace.”

“We are thrilled to be a part of Atlanta’s history in the making”

Key to the securing the deal, says Ticketmaster, was offering AMBS&E access to marketing and performance data via the Ticketmaster platform, including via its Live Analytics data-enhancing service and other “advanced technologies” it says will “help create a more personalised in-venue experienced for fans”.

“Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be one of the most advanced sports and entertainment venues in the world, and is providing a dynamic step forward for major stadiums,” Jared Smith, president of Ticketmaster North America, adds. “We are thrilled to be a part of Atlanta’s history in the making and proud that Ticketmaster’s technology will help the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United better understand and connect with their fans.”

Mercedes-Benz Stadium will open on 26 August, with Atlanta United playing the first league game in the stadium, against FC Dallas, on 10 September. It is intended to replace the George Dome, which is due to be demolished.


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