FKP Scorpio MD: ‘We’re proud about our comeback’
FKP Scorpio MD Stephan Thanscheidt has given his verdict on this year’s festival season following the sell-out success of Germany’s Southside and Hurricane events.
Held from 17-19 June, the twin events were topped by Kings of Leon, Rise Against, Seeed, Martin Garrix, The Killers, Deichkind, Twenty One Pilots and KIZ.
The events return to Neuhausen ob Eck (Southside) and the Eichenring motorcycle speedway in Scheessel (Hurricane) from 16-18 June 2023.
In addition, FKP joined forces with DreamHaus and Loft Concerts to launch brand new open-air festival Tempelhof Sounds in Berlin earlier this month on the grounds of Tempelhof Airport – where the Berlin Festival once took place, and the German Lollapalooza Festival launched in 2015. Tempelhof Sounds was headlined by Florence + The Machine, Muse and The Strokes.
As FKP’s head of festival booking, Hamburg-based Thanscheidt is responsible for a programme of over 25 festivals across Europe. The company’s festival repertoire also includes Highfield, M’era Luna, Rolling Stone Beach, Metal Hammer Paradise, A Summer’s Tale, Plage Noire and Deichbrand.
On the international side, FKP Scorpio hosts Provinssi (FI), Sideways (FI), Greenfield (CH), Gården (SWE), Indian Summer (NL), Best Kept Secret (NL), Tuckerville (NL) and Aairport (DK), among others.
Here, in a quickfire Q&A with IQ, he reflects on the 2022 season so far and shares his hopes and fears for the wider market…
“We are facing the same challenges as everyone else, most notably a shortage of qualified personnel and a significant increase of expenses”
How pleased were you with the response to this year’s Southside and Hurricane festivals?
“We’re more than pleased with this year’s instalments of our flagship festivals. Both were sold out and all 150,000 attendees had a great time. That’s not taken for granted given the difficult circumstances our industry still finds itself in. The presale for both events has already started and is shaping up to be very dynamic. It’s also worth noting that we were very successful with a festival premiere this year: Tempelhof Sounds took place in Berlin the weekend before Hurricane and Southside and sold well over 40,000 tickets, surpassing even our expectations.”
What were the biggest challenges in the run-up to the events?
“We were facing the same challenges as everyone else, most notably a shortage of qualified personnel and a significant increase of expenses. A lot of people, for example in lighting, sound, planning or other areas, aren’t working in the sector anymore – with corona naturally being the main cause for this. The high inflation caused by the pandemic and the horrible war in Ukraine are additionally contributing to the issues we’re facing in production of live events today. It really shows in the light of recent developments that our big network of skilled labour in the value chain is a tremendous asset to have.”
How is the rest of your year shaping up?
“We’re proud about our comeback from the pandemic. In addition to the aforementioned, our European festivals, Deichbrand, M’era Luna and Highfield are just around the corner. Apart from the festival sector we’re promoting shows of the likes of The Rolling Stones and Ed Sheeran or new concepts like The Masked Singer. It’s not a given to not only get back into business after two years of break, but also bringing new ideas to the market.”
“Although we’re managing quite well, the live sector does not yet stand firmly on its own feet like it used to”
How is this year’s festival’s season going in Germany overall?
“The before-mentioned problems have caused some festivals to cancel – luckily not for us. One festival had to be stopped on its second day recently due to a lack of security personnel. Additionally, a lot of festivals had to cancel because the ticket sales did not go so well. Combined with the rising costs of producing live events, the risk of failure is bigger than ever.”
What are your biggest hopes and expectations for the market now moving forward?
“I would simply hope for more stability for the whole industry. Although we’re managing quite well, the live sector does not yet stand firmly on its own feet like it used to. At the same time, I’m positive that this will gradually change once the bulk of postponed events finally took place and the economic situation is more stable. What we’re still sure about is this: People love to experience live music, maybe more than ever – no amount of uncertainty will ever change this.”
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Storm Henri disrupts US concert comeback
We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert, the star-studded show held in New York’s Central Park on Saturday 21 August, became the biggest victim of Hurricane Henri, the tropical storm which battered New England and the north-eastern United States over the weekend.
The concert, first announced by the mayor of New York city, Bill de Blasio, in June, was put together by veteran label exec Clive Davis in association with Live Nation and was to have featured performances by Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Paul Simon, the Killers, Jennifer Hudson, Run DMC, Carlos Santana, LL Cool J, Andrea Bocelli and more. However, the 60,000-strong crowd were asked to leave Central Park early – at around 8pm, during Barry Manilow’s set, and before Springsteen, Simon and the Killers could take the stage – as the heavens opened and lightning filled the sky.
While most tickets for the show were given free to New York residents, VIP tickets were available, priced between US$399 and $5,000, according to AP.
De Blasio acknowledged that “while it’s disappointing that tonight’s concert had to end early”, the lightning meant that authorities had no choice but to end the show early: “the safety of everyone in attendance had to come first.”
While it's disappointing that tonight's concert had to end early, the safety of everyone in attendance had to come first.
To everyone who came out tonight: thank you. Thank you for showing the world that New York City is coming back stronger than ever before.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) August 22, 2021
Other events were also called off after the state of New York declared a state of emergency on Saturday morning ahead of Henri (now downgraded to a tropical storm) making landfall.
Eagles’ highly anticipated return to Madison Square Garden, part of the band’s Hotel California tour, on Sunday (22 August) was cancelled by the arena, as was a Jason Mraz show at Mohegan Sun Arena (10,000-cap.) in Uncasville, Connecticut, the same night.
Elsewhere in Connecticut, Kiss’s show at the 30,000-capacity Xfinity Theatre in Hartford will now take place tonight (23 August) after being postponed from Sunday due to the hurricane.
Sporting events such as the PGA Tour golf tournament, which is in New Jersey, also cancelled or postponed scheduled fixtures.
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Rock am Ring/im Park, Hurricane and more called off
Some of Germany’s biggest music festivals, including Eventim Presents/DreamHaus’s Rock am Ring (95,000-cap.) and Rock im Park (75,000-cap.), FKP Scorpio’s Hurricane (78,000-cap.) and Southside (65,000-cap.) and ESK Events’ Deichbrand Festival (60,000-cap.), have been called off for a second year running.
The festivals’s promoters, all part of the Eventim Live network, “were compelled to call off the events due to the ongoing uncertainty about infection rates and mutations”, according to a statement from CTS Eventim.
Also off are dance music festival SonneMondSterne (35,000-cap.) and Swiss event Greenfield, which is also promoted by Hamburg-based FKP Scorpio.
Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, CEO of CTS Eventim, says: “We regret these cancellations very much and share the disappointment of everyone involved. But precedence must, of course, be given to safeguarding and protecting the health of fans, performers, festival teams and partners.
“However, it is also clear that this continuing uncertainty is further exacerbating the dramatic financial situation in which the live music industry finds itself. We are working on many levels to ensure that live culture can return to the stage as quickly and safely as possible.”
“We have had to accept with a heavy heart that festivals of this magnitude are not yet feasible at present”
Other major German festivals, including Melt Festival, Wacken Open Air, Parookaville, Wireless Germany and Superbloom, are still on at the time of writing.
Frithjof Pils, managing director of Eventim Live, says that “2021 was actually meant to be the summer of reunions, and festival organisers have invested a great deal of time and energy in sanitary and infection control concepts to make that possible. But given the persistent epidemiological situation and the associated restrictions in force, we have had to accept with a heavy heart that festivals of this magnitude are not yet feasible at present.”
“We are therefore focusing on the 2022 festival summer,” he adds, “and want to make it unforgettable for all of us.”
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M’era Luna rebooks all 2020 acts for next year
FKP Scorpio has announced that all acts billed to play the 2020 edition of gothic festival M’era Luna will be returning in 2021.
The promoter was forced to call off M’era Luna 2020, along with twin festivals Hurricane and Southside, Highfield, Deichbrand, Elbjazz and Limestone, when the German government imposed a ban on large-scale events until the end of August.
The 25,000-capacity festival will return from 7 to 8 August 2021, headed up by ASP, Gdansk and the Sisters of Mercy.
“We are very happy that we could reward the solidarity and patience of our guests in this manner,” says FKP Scorpio CEO Stephan Thanscheidt, who spoke on the recent IQ Focus Festival Forum panel.
“The rapid reconfirmation of our entire line-up would not have been possible for our visitors without a great effort of our team and our artists. Thanks for all parties, but especially to our guests who have kept us in this difficult time with a lot of support, the loyalty.”
“We are very happy that we could reward the solidarity and patience of our guests in this manner”
Scorpio has also reconfirmed a number of headliners for its Hurricane and Southside festivals, including Seeed, Martin Garrix, the Killers, Kings of Leon and Rise Against.
Thanscheidt references FKP’s ‘three-ticket solution’ programme, which offers all ticket holders three options: transfer tickets to 2021, opt for a credit voucher in accordance with government regulations, or ask for a cash refund.
Several festivals have announced a high rebooking count for 2021. In the UK, metal festival Bloodstock has confirmed 95% of its 2020 acts for next year, says festival director Rachael Greenfield.
Scotland’s Trnsmt has also retained a high proportion of acts for next year, including headliners Courteeners, Liam Gallagher and Lewis Capaldi, whereas From the Fields’ Bluedot Festival announced the rebooking of headliners Bjork, Groove Armada and Metronomy concurrently with the cancellation of its 2020 edition.
Primavera Sound today (27 May) announced its line-up for 2021, reconfirming acts including Iggy Pop, the Strokes, Tyler the Creator and the National.
A recent Festicket survey has indicated that appetite for next year’s festival season is high, with over 75% of 110,000 respondents saying they would book tickets for 2021 events within the next eight weeks.
‘As disappointed as our guests’: Germany cans summer fests
Germany, Europe’s largest live music market, has become the latest European nation to outlaw all large-scale live events until 31 August, forcing the mass cancellation of some of Europe’s best-loved music festivals.
“Since major events play an important role in spreading infection, they remain prohibited until at least 31 August 2020,” reads a news release from the German federal government, which had yesterday (15 April) given the go-ahead for shops and schools to reopen.
Among the affected events are nearly all of Germany’s summer festival fixtures, including MLK’s Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, FKP Scorpio’s Hurricane and Southside, Goodlive’s Melt and Splash! Festivals and Superstruct’s Wacken Open Air and Parookaville – with the likes of Goodlive’s Lollapalooza Berlin and new festival Superbloom (both 5–6 September) spared from the ban by a matter of days.
For FKP Scorpio – which, in addition to its flagship twin open-airs, is also calling off Highfield, Deichbrand, Elbjazz, Limestone and Mera Luna – the decision, although “a clear and important safety measure”, is a source of sadness for the entire company, says founder-CEO Folkert Koopmans.
“All of us are bitterly disappointed”
“It goes without saying that these cancellations, like the entire unprecedented [Covid-19] situation, make us very sad, even if we fully support the political decision to protect the population,” comments Koopmans. “Our whole team has been working with countless partners for a long time in preparation for the summer festival season, and is as disappointed as our guests.”
Thomas Jensen, co-founder of metal festival Wacken Open Air, which sold out its 2020 edition under a day, echoes: “Our whole team has been working intensively on the festival these last months, and all of us are bitterly disappointed that we are not allowed to celebrate a Wacken Open Air together with our visitors and the bands this year.”
Similarly sold out were Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, promoted by CTS Eventim’s Marek Lieberberg Konzeragentur, which would have celebrated 35 and 25 years in 2020, respectively.
“For the organisers, the artists and the 175,000 fans who wanted to celebrate 35 years of Rock am Ring and 25 years of Rock im Park in the first weekend in June, this decision is of course disappointing,” reads a statement from organisers.
“Nevertheless, the producers unreservedly support these inevitable measures in the interests of the safety and health of everyone involved, however sad we are over the cancellation of the festivals.”
Schulenberg urges gov to protect live industry
CTS Eventim CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg has urged the German authorities to put in place targeted measures to support the live music industry through the Covid-19 pandemic, warning that “a wave of bankruptcies will sweep the country” if action is not taken.
As reported in German news outlet Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (via Musikwoche), Schulenberg believes that “a long-term announcement” from authorities regarding the fate music festivals, as well as extensions to the amount of time organisers have to issue refunds for cancelled or postponed events, are vital to maintain the health of the industry.
Although Eventim’s biggest festivals, Rock am Ring/Rock im Park, promoted in conjunction with Live Nation, and FKP Scorpio’s Hurricane and Southside, are insured against communicable disease, the CTS boss states that intervention from the authorities is needed to ensure cover for cancellations.
The German powerhouse has enjoyed a successful few years, reporting record revenue of €1.44 billion in the 2019 financial year and increasing earnings by 25%. Due to this success, Schulenberg says his company “could hold out for two years”.
However, many smaller industry players do not have the same safety net. “We need the enormous variety of small clubs and organisers, which usually have to cope with little money anyway,” says the Eventim boss.
“We need the enormous variety of small clubs and organisers, which usually have to cope with little money anyway”
In order to mitigate the financial losses incurred by promoters, Schulenberg is appealing to the German government to extend the period of time that organisers have to refund tickets to 30 September 2020. Promoters currently have until 30 June to return money to ticketholders and, even then, only companies with annual sales of less than €2 million.
“High sales at events are offset by a margin of only 5 to 7%,” says Schulenberg. The regulation must apply to the entire industry, otherwise “a wave of bankruptcies will sweep through the country”.
Alternative forms of compensating fans, such as by issuing vouchers for future events, rather than cash refunds, should also considered.
“That costs nothing to the state and is reasonable for the buyer,” says Schulenberg.
Eventim is currently among companies asking fans not to request refunds, following similar calls from German promoters’ association BDKV, Spanish music federation Esmúsica, UK ticketing industry body Star, the Dutch culture minister, DEAG-owned ticketer Myticket, and more.
In the Netherlands, the #idontwantmymoneyback initiative allows fans to indicate that they do not need a refund in a show of solidarity with event organisers.
Festival Fever: how summer 2020 is shaping up
The 2020 festival season, and the long nights, sunny days and happy times that come with it, may seem an age away as winter proper sets in for many across Europe. However, as the festival booking window moves ever earlier and line-up announcements come in thick and fast, there’s no better time to take a look at the top talent gracing the stages of major festivals next year.
Positivity characterised the reports from festival chiefs IQ spoke to at the end of the 2019 season, despite some having expressed concerns around the lack of talent on tour.
Full 2019 festival analysis will appear in the the European Festival Report in the end-of-year issue of IQ Magazine, providing an in-depth look at capacity and attendance, ticketing and pricing, VIP sales, challenges and concerns, new technology and much more.
Right now, however, we turn our focus to the 2020 season. Over the coming weeks, IQ will post regular updates of the line-ups that have already been revealed.
So, without further ado, let’s have a look at what our first round of festival bookers have in store for us over the summer to come…
British Summer Time Hyde Park
When: 3 to 12 July
Where: Hyde Park, London, UK
How many: 70,000
AEG’s British Summer Time (BST) Hyde Park has announced Little Mix as the first of six headline acts. The girl group will play on the opening Saturday (4 July) of the 2020 concert series. Taking place across two weekends, BST last year saw performances from Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Robbie Williams and Barbra Streisand.
BST, this year sponsored by American Express, was founded in 2013, after AEG signed a contract with the Royal Parks, the body that manages Hyde Park.
Elsewhere in London, AEG’s three-year-old All Points East has made its first line-up reveal in the form of Australian psych-pop titans Tame Impala.
Tickets for Little Mix at BST Hyde Park go on sale on Thursday 28 November at 9 a.m. (GMT). Tickets for Tame Impala at All Points East are available here, for £65.
AEG’s BST Hyde Park has announced Little Mix as the first of six headline acts
When: 12 to 14 June
Where: Donington Park, Leicestershire, England
How many: 110,000
Festival Republic’s Download festival is embarking on its 18th year in 2020, with headline acts Kiss, Iron Maiden and System of a Down playing alongside Deftones, Gojira, Korn, the Offspring and Baby Metal.
Download’s popularity in the UK has led to an extension of the brand, with sister events spawning over the years in Australia, Japan, France and Spain. The rock festival has also been praised for its efforts around accessibility, sustainability and inclusivity.
Tickets for Download 2020 are available here. Weekend camping costs £250, with the non-camping option priced at £216.
Download embarks on its 18th year in 2020, with headline acts Kiss, Iron Maiden and System of a Down
When: 19 to 21 June
Where: Eichenring in Scheeßel/Gewerbepark in Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany
How many: 68,000/60,000
FKP Scorpio’s twin festivals, Hurricane and Southside, contributed to the German promoter’s best-ever weekend last year. The 2020 editions of the festivals see recently announced acts the Killers and Rise Against join a bill also featuring Martin Garrix, the Lumineers, Twenty One Pilots, the 1975, Kings of Leon, Seeed and Bring Me the Horizon.
Stephan Thanscheidt, CEO and head of festival booking at FKP Scorpio, recently lauded the diversity of the Scorpio festival portfolio, which includes “intimate indoor festivals” as well as multi-day open air affairs like Hurricane and Southside.
Tickets for Hurricane/Southside 2020 are available here, priced at €189 (£161) for three days. The price will go up to €199 (£170) at 12 p.m. (CET) on 2 December, when a limited number of €99 (£85) day tickets will be released.
The 2020 editions of the festivals see recently announced acts the Killers and Rise Against
When: 8 to 11 July
Where: Espacio Mad Cool, Madrid, Spain
How many: 60,000
Changes are afoot as Live Nation’s Mad Cool festival enters its fifth year, with a 25% reduction in capacity and extra day of programming. Already confirmed acts for the extended 2020 event include Taylor Swift, the Killers, Kings of Leon, Faith No More, Billie Eilish, Twenty One Pilots, Foals and Anderson Paak.
“Our promise to the music world and the audience is this,” state organisers, “that Mad Cool 2020 will be better quality, more exciting, more spectacular, more memorable, safe, comfortable and sustainable than ever before.”
Tickets for Mad Cool 2020 will be available on 1 December at 12 p.m. (CET). A one-day festival ticket costs €65 (£56), with a four-day pass priced at €159 (£136).
Already confirmed acts for the extended 2020 event include Taylor Swift, the Killers, Kings of Leon and Billie Eilish
When: 25 to 27 June
Where: Törnävänsaari, Seinäjoki, Finland
How many: 32,000
Founded in 1979, Fullsteam Agency’s Provinssi festival counts System of a Down, the Chemical Brothers, Hassisen Kone, Korn, Gojira, Deftones, Charli XCX and Hatari among its 2020 acts.
Provinssi recorded its second-highest attendance in history (76,000) at it 40th anniversary event in 2018, contributing to a record-breaking summer for Fullsteam in 2018, which forms part of the FKP Scorpio group.
Earl bird tickets are now available, with one-day passes costing €89 (£76) and a three-day ticket priced at €149 (£127).
Fullsteam Agency’s Provinssi festival counts System of a Down, the Chemical Brothers and Korn among its 2020 acts
When: 27 June to 4 July
Where: Roskilde, Denmark
How many: 85,000
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, non-profit Roskilde festival has announced a handful of acts so far including Taylor Swift, Thom Yorke Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, Pusha T, Mura Masa and Whitney.
Speaking to IQ following a “fantastic” 2019 edition, Roskilde chief executive Signe Lopdrup stressed the importance of having a future-facing attitude as the anniversary event draws near, stating that, “one of our goals is to show fans something they haven’t seen before.”
Tickets for the full eight-day festival experience plus camping are available here for DDK2250 (£257).
Roskilde festival has announced a handful of acts so far including Taylor Swift, Thom Yorke and Pusha T
When: 10 to 12 July
Where: Glasgow Green, Glasgow, Scotland
How many: 50,000
The fourth edition of DF Concerts’ city-centre festival Trnsmt will see headline performances from Courteeners, Liam Gallagher and Lewis Capaldi.
Ian Brown, Sam Fender, Foals, Keane, Snow Patrol and Rita Ora are also on the bill for the 2020 festival, following a sell-out third year in which the event became “an established part of Glasgow’s cultural calendar”, according to festival director Geoff Ellis.
“The response that we’ve had to Trnsmt since we launched in 2017 is amazing to see,” comments Ellis.
“The fact that it has become such a pillar of the UK festival scene every year is testament to the incredible music fans that we have here in this country.”
Tickets for Trnsmt 2020 go on sale on Friday 30 November at 9 a.m.
Summer’s gone: EU festivals talk the season that was
The rising cost of putting on large-scale live events and difficulties in booking top-tier talent were among the challenges overcome by festival organisers this year, according to a cross-section of Europe’s major music events.
Ahead of this year’s festival season, several festival organisers and associations told IQ that 2019 was shaping up to be a slow year. Across the board, they said, sell-outs were down and sales were lower, and many complained of a lack of top-shelf talent on tour. A typical sentiment was that of Jean-Paul Roland, festival director of French rock festival Eurockéennes, who said “the season seems more subdued than last year”, with organisers facing “more difficulties to reach a point of profitability”.
IQ’s annual analysis of Europe’s festival market, the European Festival Report, will return for 2019 in the end-of-year issue #87, providing an in-depth look at capacity and attendance, ticketing and pricing, VIP sales, challenges and concerns, new technology and much more.
But the end of 2019 is (thankfully) still some time away. So, with autumn setting in across Europe, and the International Festival Forum (IFF) fast approaching, IQ conducted an informal festival ‘exit poll’ –interviewing one festival apiece in seven key markets to find out how their events panned out, and whether those early-summer doubts were well-founded. Here’s what we learnt…
2019 headliners: Foo Fighters, Mumford and Sons, Die Toten Hosen, the Cure, Tame Impala
Date: 21 to 23 June
FKP Scorpio managing director Stephan Thanscheidt says he is “more than happy” with the performance of twin festivals Hurricane and Southside this year, attributing a “strong” line-up, investment in the festival grounds and “perfect weather” to the success.
The festivals saw a combined attendance of 380,000 over three days, with around 68,000 visiting Hurricane and 60,000 people attending Southside per day. Next year is looking promising, too: FKP Scorpio celebrated its best-ever presale, selling 40,000 tickets in two days for the 2020 editions of Hurricane and Southside.
Thanscheidt states that bad weather and a higher awareness of the threat of terror attacks have led to a “decreased momentum in demand” across the festival sector over the past few years. The present phase of consolidation, with a few major companies snapping up a majority of events, may leave many “new and inexperienced players” behind, according to the FKP boss.
Rising costs “in all areas” are also affecting the festival and touring sector, particularly in relation to artists fees. “Ticket prices cannot and should not be scaled limitlessly,” says Thanscheidt, “so we need to find ways to optimise and allocate these expenses.”
However, things look bright for FKP, which recently acquired Swedish promoter Woah Dad Live, with Thanscheidt confirming that the provisional results of its festival season “indicate a significant upward trend”.
“Ticket prices cannot and should not be scaled limitlessly, so we need to find ways to optimise and allocate expenses”
2019 headliners: Lewis Capaldi, the Cure, Bon Iver, the Smashing Pumpkins
Date: 11 to 13 July
“This year everything has run smoothly and we are happy about it,” Mad Cool festival director Javier Arnáiz tells IQ.
Live Nation’s Mad Cool festival has seen substantial growth since its inauguration in 2016, increasing capacity by 60%, from 45,000 to 75,000. The rapid growth threw up problems for the Mad Cool team in previous editions.
“Our main goal for this year was to improve on all the incidents that happened in the previous edition, as a result of the massive growth,” says Arnáiz. Thanks to the team’s effort and changes made “through our own process of self-criticism”, the customer experience was much improved this year.
Sales for the festival’s fourth year were lower than usual, which Arnáiz puts down to “the lack of headliners” available. “We have all suffered from this in Europe during 2019,” states the Mad Cool director. “It’s been a tough year for all of us.”
Additionally, last year’s line-up, which featured Pearl Jam, Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age and Kasabian, “set the bar high”, ensuring “it was not an easy task” to produce a bill to rival it.
Looking to the future, the Mad Cool team say they’re concentrating on strengthening other aspects of the headliner-focused festival. “We are already working on the 2020 edition and we hope we can deliver what is expected from a festival like Mad Cool,” states Arnáiz.
“We have all suffered from a lack of headliners in Europe during 2019”
2019 headliners: The National, Post Malone, Prophets of Rage, Twenty One Pilots
Date: 15 to 19 August
Pukkelpop promoter and programmer Chokri Mahassine tells IQ that “we can look back with great satisfaction” following a “completely sold out edition”.
Unlike in previous years, says Mahassine, the Pukkelpop team had no problem shifting tickets this year thanks to a “stellar line-up”, with the balance between musical genres, as well as between young and old acts “clearly paying off”.
Two “unique” shows by rock band the National and a “landslide victory” for fast-rising star Billie Eilish were particular highlights of this year’s festival.
Speaking to IQ in 2017, Mahassine revealed that ticket prices for the independently promoted festival had not changed in four years, although the price of food and drinks tokens did rise. Ticket prices for the past two years have seen a slight increase, from €199 for a weekend pass in 2017 to €205 in 2019.
The Pukkelpop promoter admits that rising prices are due in part to the ever-increasing penchant for comfort among festivalgoers and high expectations in terms of food, transport, accommodation and overall experience. Providing this kind of quality proves more and more difficult each year, says Mahassine, “both on a production and financial level”.
The Pukkelpop promoter admits that rising prices are due in part to the ever-increasing penchant for comfort among festivalgoers
2019 headliners: The 1975, Liam Gallagher, Mac Demarco
Date: 11 to 13 July
“We had the best year in history,” Michal Kaščák, founder and chief executive of Pohoda, or Peace in English, tells IQ. The festival – Slovakia’s biggest – sold out for the fifth time in its 23-year history and for the second consecutive year.
A packed music programme, an accompanying arts and science schedule, “smooth production” and “super weather” contributed to the festival’s strong performance.
Among a list of high-profile artists including Skepta, the 1975, Liam Gallagher and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kaščák states that Zohra – Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra – were the stand-out act.
Having the band perform at the festival “gave us a strong opportunity to emphasise the goals of Pohoda,” explains Kaščák. “Their story is the perfect base for speaking about gender equality, the power of art to change things for the better and how important it is to stay united.”
A last-minute cancellation by Swedish singer Lykke Li gave an opportunity to “unknown artist” Sink Your Teeth. “We decided to take a risk and let them play on the main stage in prime time,” says Kaščák. “And it was super decision, they did very well.”
The booking process in general is “much harder” than it used to be, says the Pohoda boss, with rising artist fees, late confirmations and the need to clarify running times early on being major factors.
At the end of the day, says Kaščák, “we are an independent festival in a small country, with all the difficulties and advantages that come with that.”
“We are an independent festival in a small country, with all the difficulties and advantages that come with that”
2019 headliners: Slayer, Kiss, Tool, Anthrax
Date: 21 to 23 June
French metal festival Hellfest had one of its “best editions ever”, according to the festival’s communication and event manager Alexxx Rebecq.
Hellfest did not experience any slowdown at all in terms of sales, selling all three-day tickets in 90 minutes, in what Paul-Henri Wauters, co-president of festival association De Concert!, pointed to as an exception for its member festivals this year.
The festival had around 200 bands on the bill for one of its biggest years to date. Organisers also added an extra day for its 2019 edition, to host Slipknot-fronted Knotfest within its festival site.
“We were really proud to welcome the Knotfest festival to Hellfest last year,” Rebecq tells IQ. “Four days in a row was not easy, and certainly exhausted our whole crew, but we did it and what a day it was.”
It was not all plain sailing for the 2019 edition, however, with booking also proving an issue. The last minute cancellation of headliner Manowar was “really tough to manage” and resulted in “a lot of wasted time, pressure and stress” for the Hellfest team.
“We had the support of our crowd though, because they have known us for a long time and obviously know we are capable of welcoming a band like Manowar,” explains Rebecq.
“Manowar’s last minute cancellation was really tough for us to manage”
2019 headliners: Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Florence and the Machine
Date: 7 to 13 August
Majority Superstruct-owned Sziget festival saw its biggest crowd ever this year, with 60,000 attending Ed Sheeran’s opening-night headline performance.
“Although our overall visitor number throughout the week was a bit less than during the 2018 festival, we still closed our second-most attended festival in the 27-year history of Sziget,” Ákos Remetei Filep, the festival’s sales director, explains.
530,000 people attended the week-long festival, in what was hailed as its most headliner-focused edition yet. Local newspapers reported that organisers spent US$1.7 million more than last year on securing headline acts.
The main stage also became a platform for important topics this year, with talks by the UN Refugee Agency’s Emitithal Mahmoud and former US vice-president and climate-change campaigner Al Gore.
Although attendances have been high in recent years, Filep states that “the biggest challenge is to make [an international audience] aware of the festival and convince them to come”.
“Sziget is a very unique festival experience compared to other events in Europe,” explains Filep, which makes it difficult to sell to international audiences, as “there’s nothing you can really compare it to”.
“The biggest challenge is to make [an international audience] aware of the festival and convince them to come”
2019 headliners: Asap Rocky, Tyga, G-eazy
Date: 16 to 17 August
Finland’s largest hip-hop festival, Blockfest, sold out seven weeks prior to the event this year, which saw its largest capacity ever.
“We couldn’t be happier with the turn-out,” Live Nation Finland’s head promoter, Zachris Sundell, tells IQ. “The weather was sunny and all artists – both domestic and international – put on great performances.”
Live Nation took full control of the festival this year, following years of collaboration with the Blockfest team.
Despite concerns regarding the availability of Friday-night headliner Asap Rocky, “everything worked out so he could perform as planned.” The rapper had been forced to cancel multiple festival appearances over the summer, while held on assault charges in Stockholm.
Rocky received the verdict of the trial just days before his Blockfest appearance, avoiding jail time with a two-year suspended sentence.
Taking place in Tampere Stadium in the city of the same name, the “challenges” that go with a city-centre festival are always to be expected, says Sundell. However, all in all, “everything worked out great”.
Concerts cancelled over Hurricane Dorian concerns
A host of concerts in Miami and Orlando were cancelled or postponed this weekend due to concerns over Hurricane Dorian, the storm that has been battering the Bahamas since Sunday (1 September) and is approaching the Florida east coast.
In anticipation of the hurricane, which hit the Bahamas as a category five storm, the Rolling Stones brought their show at Miami’s 65,326-capacity Hard Rock stadium forward one night to Friday evening. The concert had previously been rescheduled from April to account for Mick Jagger’s heart surgery.
Chris Brown was also due to play in Miami, but cancelled his show at the 20,737-capacity BB&T Center on Sunday evening. No replacement date has been announced. An automatic refund will be issued to customers who bought tickets through Ticketmaster online or by phone. Those with physical tickets will need to return to the outlet they purchased from.
Miami-born Pitbull cited unsafe travel conditions as the reason for postponing an appearance at the Los Angeles County Fair on Sunday. Pitbull’s management told fans the rapper could not “safely depart from Miami” due to Dorian’s approach and rescheduled his appearance for 12 September.
Pitbull’s management told fans the rapper could not “safely depart from Miami” due to Dorian’s approach
Sunday ticket holders were still able to enter the fair, with the same passes being eligible for the alternate date. Refunds are also available via the Ticketmaster website.
Mexican musician Marco Antonio Solis rescheduled his two Florida shows over the weekend for 20 October at Orlando’s Amway Center (20,000-cap.) and 26 October at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami (21,000-cap.).
Dutch DJ Afrojack cancelled his Miami appearance at Story Nightclub (1.400-cap.) on Friday.
Hurricane Dorian will move “dangerously close” to Florida’s east coasts and the coasts of Georgia and Carolina over the course of today. “Life-threatening storm surges” are expected in those areas, whereas “devastating winds and storm surges” continue over Grand Bahama.
At the time of writing the category three hurricane was around 105 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida.
One-year hiatus for FKP Scorpio fest A Summer’s Tale
German promoter FKP Scorpio has announced Luhmühlen-based festival A Summer’s Tale will not be returning for 2020, as the festival takes a one-year break.
Taking place from 1 to 4 August, acts including Zaz, Suede and Elbow played at the fifth edition of the woodland festival, which also offers outdoor activities, arts, crafts, readings and theatrical performances.
“A Summer’s Tale is a project close to our hearts,” comments FKP Scorpio chief executive Folkert Koopmans. “We have developed the festival very carefully around the current festival site.”
Although FKP Scorpio wishes to keep the current festival site in Luhmühlen, changes to regulatory requirements may mean the event can no longer take place there in its current capacity.
“A Summer’s Tale is a project close to our hearts”
“The long-term answer to this situation is taking a one-year break,” continues Koopmans. “We will use this time to further develop A Summer’s Tale for the benefit of our guests.”
The FKP Scorpio boss stresses that the festival remains “an integral part” of the festival calendar and confirms that the sixth edition will take place from 22 to 25 July 2021.
Since debuting in 2015, A Summer’s Tale has played host to artists including Franz Ferdinand, Patti Smith, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Amy Macdonald, Damien Rice and PJ Harvey.
FKP Scorpio celebrated a record-breaking weekend earlier this summer, as twin festivals Hurricane/ Southside and two open-air Ed Sheeran shows brought in nearly €50 million from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 June.