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Australian fests rebound to pre-pandemic levels

Australia’s summer festivals have defied expectations by reporting attendance figures on a par with pre-Covid levels.

Despite many promoters expressing fears that the economic climate – as well as the ongoing effects of flooding in several states – would result in softer ticket sales, major events such as Laneway, Falls, Tamworth Country Music Festival (TCMF) and Woodford Folk pulled in bumper crowds.

According to The Music Network, Laneway’s Brisbane (4 February) and Sydney (5 February) editions attracted a combined 46,000 punters to see acts such as Haim, Phoebe Bridgers, Finneas, Fontaines DC and Fred Again. The travelling festival landed in Adelaide today, with additional legs still to come in Melbourne and Perth this weekend. A 30 January stop in Auckland, New Zealand was cancelled due to “biblical” flooding.

“It was awesome to see new festival goers attending for the first time ever and our regular fans returning to support us and the incredible 2023 line-up,” say Laneway co-founders Danny Rogers and Jerome Borazio.

Secret Sounds’ first Falls Festival in three years drew around 20,000 people to each of its Melbourne, Byron Bay and Fremantle editions with a line-up headed by Arctic Monkeys and Lil Nas X, while TCMF averaged 30,000 fans a day over 10 days.

“Huge thanks to our Falls community for their ongoing support and love for the festival”

“Huge thanks to our Falls community for their ongoing support and love for the festival, as well as to everyone that has helped make the return of Falls 2022/2023 such a success,” say festival producers Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco.

Elsewhere, Woodford Folk Festival enticed an estimated 120,000 festival-goers over six days (20,000 a day), Sydney’s Field Day recorded a 27,000 sellout at The Domain, and Victoria’s Meredith Music aggregated 37,500 over three days (12,500 a day).

In less positive news, Queensland’s Jungle Love Festival has cancelled its 2023 edition, which was scheduled for September, citing financial concerns.

“The ongoing inflation is driving supplier costs up to amounts that aren’t financially feasible for us,” says a social media post by organisers. “And with the cost of living going up, we understand many people are struggling to justify the expense of a multi-day festival. We’re just not seeing the ticket sales we need to be assured that we can pay for the expense of creating a mini-city for three days.

“Having had many setbacks since 2020 that could have defeated us, we’ve decided to lay low until better economic times rather than try to fight this uphill battle. We’ll be back when we have the confidence that we can make it a success and make the balance sheet work. As a small independent not-for-profit event, our margins are thin, and we can not afford the risk of operating at another loss.”


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NZ live events cancelled due to “biblical weather”

A number of major concerts and festivals in New Zealand have been cancelled due to flash floods and landslides on the north island, with the death toll rising to four.

Elton John’s concert, scheduled for last Friday (27 January) at Mount Smart stadium in Auckland, was cancelled less than half an hour before he was due to take to the stage.

Thousands were already at the venue when organisers decided to cancel the concert, which is part of John’s farewell tour. Around 40,000 fans were expected to attend.

Chugg Entertainment, AEG Presents and Frontier Touring also cancelled John’s Saturday show at the stadium after Auckland declared a state of emergency.

Laneway Festival was due to kick off today (30 January) at Western Springs stadium in Auckland with acts including Haim, Phoebe Bridgers, Fred Again and Joji.

The festival was cancelled on Saturday (28 January) afternoon, with organisers saying that they had worked “around the clock to do everything they can to salvage the site, but the damage and disruption… meant that it is no longer safe to proceed.”

Laneway Festival was due to kick off today with acts including Haim, Phoebe Bridgers, Fred Again and Joji

After an almost three-year hiatus while Covid restrictions were in place, tickets to the upcoming festival sold out in just 90 minutes, for the first time in the event’s decade-long history, triggering a change of venue and an extra release of tickets.

Elsewhere, Fat Boy Slim’s Saturday night concert at Tremain Park in Napier was called off on the morning of by tour organisers Endeavour Live. The DJ played Christchurch the night prior.

Tauranga’s One Love festival was also called off, for the first time in history according to festival organisers.

“From site flooding to high winds to artists being stuck in Auckland, thunderstorms predicted and heavy rain tomorrow as well, we are unable to safely and logistically deliver One Love.”

The reggae festival was due to be held on Saturday and Sunday in the Tauranga Domain, with local and international acts including UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, L.A.B, J Boog, Fiji, Sons of Zion, Kolohe Kai, Rebel Souljahz, Katchafire, and Sean Kingston.

Festival One in Kaipara was also pulled due to weather of “biblical proportions”, according to an announcement on the festival’s Facebook page.

Festival One said that half their ticket holders were already on site and asked them to stand by for more instructions.


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TEG joins forces with Laneway Festival

Laneway Festival, the much-loved Australasian touring festival, has joined the TEG family.

Laneway, in full St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, was founded in 2005 as a Melbourne street party and has grown into a respected festival of domestic and international music, with events in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore (currently Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Fremantle and Auckland). Past performers include Billie Eilish, Lorde, Haim, Denzel Curry, Run the Jewels, Tame Impala and Flume.

In total, Laneway events deliver more than 85 hours of contemporary live music to over 100,000 fans annually. The company also has a touring arm, Laneway Presents, which has co-promoted the festival, as well as a number of tours, with Michael Chugg’s Chugg Entertainment.

It is believed Sydney-based TEG has acquired a majority in stake in Laneway Festival, with founders Jerome Borazio and Danny Rogers staying on as co-managing directors and “substantial owners”.

“We have enormous respect for Laneway, which has grown from a Melbourne street party into a world-class festival and with a strong touring arm, consistently breaking new local and international artists to the youth market in the region,” says TEG CEO Geoff Jones.

“The festival started in a tiny alley in Melbourne in 2005 and has grown to become an institution in Australia, NZ and Singapore”

“Laneway will continue to operate as it always has, with founders Jerome and Danny and their team working closely with TEG Live managing director Tim McGregor as they continue to innovate and plan for the 2022 Laneway Festival. Watch this space.”

The acquisition is TEG’s second of 2021, following February’s takeover of Australian promoter Handsome Tours.

In a joint statement, Borazio and Rogers say: “Firstly, we would like to thank everyone who has helped to make Laneway what it is today. The festival started in a tiny alley in Melbourne in 2005 and has grown to become an institution in Australia, NZ and Singapore, thanks to the hard work and passion of some of the most genuine and talented music lovers in the country. We are endlessly thankful for and humbled by their contribution.

“To the fans and artists: we are super determined to get Laneway Festival back on the circuit ASAP, delivering you the amazing line-ups and experiences that you’ve grown accustomed to. And, of course, we want to thank Michael Chugg and his incredible teams, past and present. The festival would not exist today without his, and their vision, passion and support.

“Finally, to the current team working on the festival: thank you for your ongoing patience throughout this challenging period for our industry. With our new partnership with TEG we’ll be able to navigate these next few years knowing we have a team who shares the festival’s long-term vision.”


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Laneway introduces harassment hotline

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, the popular touring festival currently making its way across Australia, has introduced a hotline for attendees to report incidents of “disrespectful behaviour” at its events.

The move comes as Australian festivals seek to clamp down on sexual harassment following indecent assaults at several events, including the 2017 editions of Unify Gathering and Falls Festival in Tasmania.

Other recent incidents include a man groping female fans at a show by Tasmania band Luca Brasi and another urinating on people at a Spiderbait gig in Melbourne.

The launch of the hotline (1800 LANEWAY) was inspired by Melbourne band Camp Cope’s It Takes One campaign – described by frontwoman Georgia McDonald as “tak[ing] a stance against the increasing incidences of abuse and assaults that take place at shows” – and has also won the backing of fellow Laneway performers GL and Julia Jacklin.

“Just remember when you come through the gates that Laneway and other festivals and music venues are supposed to be places where people feel safe at, they feel included and they feel like they can have fun without getting touched or pushed around,” says Jacklin. “We come to these places because we want to avoid the bullshit outside, so don’t bring the bullshit inside. Just be a good person.”

Watch the launch video below:

Laneway takes place in five cities in Australia – Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle – as well as Auckland and Singapore, throughout January and February. 2017 performers include Tame Impala, Nick Murphy (Chet Faker), Aurora, Glass Animals and Jagwar Ma.


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