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Barclays suspends fest sponsorships amid protests

Barclays has suspended its sponsorship of Live Nation UK’s remaining 2024 festivals following a raft of artist withdrawals over the bank’s ties to Israel.

Pest Control, Scowl, Speed and Zulu pulled out of this weekend’s Download Festival, with Pillow Queens, CMAT, Mui Zyu and Georgia Ruth dropping out of July’s Latitude 2024 earlier this month and The Waeve cancelling their slot at Isle of Wight Festival.

Barclaycard became headline partner of Isle of Wight and Latitude in 2023 as part of its partnership renewal with Live Nation UK. The five-year extension also included collaborations with events including TGE, Download, Lytham Festival, Camp Bestival and Reading & Leeds.

“Following discussion with artists, we have agreed with Barclays that they will step back from sponsorship of our festivals,” says a Live Nation spokesperson.

Previously, more than 100 speakers and acts pulled out of March’s SXSW, held in Austin, Texas, in protest at the event’s sponsorship by the US Army and its support for Israel during the Gaza war, while a similar number of acts withdrew from the UK’s The Great Escape (TGE) due to the Brighton event’s Barclays sponsorship. Massive Attack, Idles and Brian Eno were among dozens of acts who were not booked to play at TGE but signed an open letter launched in April calling for it to drop Barclays as a partner.

A spokesperson for Barclays tells the Guardian: “Barclays was asked and has agreed to suspend participation in the remaining Live Nation festivals in 2024. Barclays customers who hold tickets to these festivals are not affected and their tickets remain valid. The protesters’ agenda is to have Barclays debank defence companies which is a sector we remain committed to as an essential part of keeping this country and our allies safe.

“The only thing that this small group of activists will achieve is to weaken essential support for cultural events enjoyed by millions”

“They have resorted to intimidating our staff, repeated vandalism of our branches and online harassment. The only thing that this small group of activists will achieve is to weaken essential support for cultural events enjoyed by millions. It is time that leaders across politics, business, academia and the arts stand united against this.”

The publication notes that it understands the suspension does not apply to the entire contract.

Pressure has been directed towards the festivals to cut ties with sponsors linked to Israel, with campaigners and artists pressuring other musicians not to perform at them.

“This is a victory for the Palestinian-led global BDS movement,” says protest group Bands Boycott Barclays following today’s announcement. “As musicians, we were horrified that our music festivals were partnered with Barclays, who are complicit in the genocide in Gaza through investment, loans and underwriting of arms companies supplying the Israeli military. Hundreds of artists have taken action this summer to make it clear that this is morally reprehensible, and we are glad we have been heard.

“Our demand to Barclays is simple: divest from the genocide, or face further boycotts. Boycotting Barclays, also Europe’s primary funder of fossil fuels, is the minimum we can do to call for change.”

“We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do”

IQ recently spoke to industry figures to find out how the business is dealing with the issue.

In response to the boycotts, Barclays have repeatedly pointed to their online Q&A which states: “We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do. We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares. We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a ‘shareholder’ or ‘investor’ in that sense in relation to these companies.”

The activism has extended beyond live music to become a growing topic of debate in the wider arts world. Speaking on The Rest is Entertainment podcast, presenter Richard Osman said: “There’s an awful lot of pressure on Latitude and artists playing Latitude because of their ties to Barclays… And people I spoke to in the last week, they’re all talking amongst themselves, saying, ‘I don’t really want to boycott in this way. I understand what’s happening, but it feels like this isn’t the best thing to do.'”

The Financial Times reports that Wimbledon is now being targeted over its Barclays sponsorship, while investment management firm Baillie Gifford cancelled its sponsorship deals with literary festivals in the UK last week following protests over its links to Israel and fossil fuel companies.

Nick Thomas, a partner at Baillie Gifford, said: “The assertion that we have significant amounts of money in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is offensively misleading. Baillie Gifford is a large investor in several multinational technology companies, including Amazon, NVIDIA, and Meta.

“Demanding divestment from these global companies, used by millions of people around the world, is unreasonable and serves no purpose. Much as it would be unreasonable to demand authors boycott Instagram or stop selling books on Amazon.

“Nor is Baillie Gifford a significant fossil fuel investor. Only 2% of our clients’ money is invested in companies with some business related to fossil fuels. We invest far more in companies helping drive the transition to clean energy.”

 


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How is the industry grappling with artist boycotts?

The last couple of months have seen artist boycotts ripple through the showcase festival season, with hundreds of acts pulling out of SXSW in Austin, and others from new music showcase festival The Great Escape (TGE) due to their sponsors’ ties to Israel.

More than 100 speakers and acts pulled out of March’s SXSW in protest of the Texas event’s sponsorship by the US Army and its support for Israel during the Gaza war. A similar number of acts were reported to have dropped out of the UK’s TGE due to its sponsorship by Barclays and its ties to Israel.

Now, attention is turning to other events, with campaign group Bands Boycott Barclays listing Isle of Wight and Latitude festivals – both of which are presented by Barclaycard – and Download as their “next festival targets”.

Last week, Pillow Queens became the first act to boycott this year’s Latitude. Posting on social media, the Irish rock band said: “As a band, we believe that artistic spaces should be able to exist without being funded by morally corrupt investors.”

A handful of acts that boycotted TGE – Picture Parlour, King Alessi, Nieve Ella, Mui Zyu – are also billed to perform at Latitude Festival. IQ reached out to the acts but none have commented.

“The impacts are going to be different for each and every artist, depending on their circumstances”

Like other acts before them, Pillow Queens referenced a May 2024 report by Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) which details Barclay’s financial ties to companies producing weapons and military technology used in Israel’s attacks on Palestinians.

In response to the boycotts, Barclays have repeatedly pointed to their online Q&A which states: “We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do. We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares. We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a ‘shareholder’ or ‘investor’ in that sense in relation to these companies.”

Annabella Coldrick, CEO of Music Managers Forum (MMF) says it is not straightforward for an artist to pull out of a festival. “The impacts are going to be different for each and every artist, depending on their circumstances, she says. “With SXSW, there may have been funding agreements and contractual obligations to consider. There’s also the cost of getting to Austin and visas, which for an upcoming act can be considerable.”

Northern Irish artist Conchúr White, who boycotted SXSW, revealed that he “accepted a significant amount of money from PRS [for Music]” to perform at the festival.

“The financial implications for me, however, pale in comparison to the tragedies occurring in Gaza,” he continued. “I don’t want to align myself with weapon manufacturers.”
White added he will “try to be more mindful moving forward”.

“We would caution against people pressuring and making assumptions about the views of others”

Belfast band Kneecap also canceled their sets at SXSW “in solidarity with the people of Palestine” even though pulling out “would have a significant financial impact on the band”. But they said it wasn’t comparable to the “unimaginable suffering” in Gaza.

While there are a number of possible ramifications for bands boycotting festivals, artists choosing to stay on festival bills are also facing difficulties.

“There’s a lot of pressure coming from social media,” says Coldrick. “Plus you’ve got fans who may have paid to see you. Not every artist is political or feels confident enough or informed enough to express an opinion about what might be a complex global issue. Alternatively, artists may decide to play and use their platform to express their views in other ways.”

David Martin, CEO at Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), seconds that point, adding: “Music is an artistic expression, a vehicle through which to challenge political, social and financial structures. We support each artist’s freedom to take decisions about using their platform. It is up to individual artists to decide how they choose to demonstrate their views. The circumstances of such decisions will vary from artist to artist and show to show, and only those involved will be in a position to judge the best course of action. We would caution against people pressuring and making assumptions about the views of others.”

Pressure has also been directed towards the festivals to cut ties with sponsors linked to Israel. Massive Attack, Idles and Eno were among dozens of artists who were not booked to play at TGE but signed an open letter launched in April calling for it to drop Barclays as a partner.

The letter said the artists were “drawing inspiration” from Artists Against Apartheid. “A Barclays boycott was a key part of ending apartheid in South Africa, after thousands of people closed their accounts with Barclays to pressure them to withdraw investments from South Africa,” it reads.

“We are now looking closely at a festival’s sponsors in advance of confirming any appearance”

It’s yet to be seen how upcoming Barclays-sponsored festivals, which include the UK’s Camp Bestival and Summertime Ball, will respond to – or be impacted by – artists’ political interest in the Gaza-Israel war. Isle of Wight Festival declined to comment for this IQ story and Latitude Festival did not respond.

Denmark’s ENGAGE Festival is a recent example of an event that has dropped its sponsor amid controversy. The Copenhagen festival, organised by the Veterans Foundation, has asked its defence industry partners to withdraw as a sponsor following criticism and confusion from some.

“Some cannot distinguish between Danish veterans and current international conflicts,” a spokesperson for the festival said. “The Veterans Foundation does not support war and will never take a stance on international conflicts that does not align with the Danish government. We do not collaborate with organisations or companies that oppose this.”

Pressure on festivals to remove controversial sponsors is not limited to music; Hay literary festival last week dropped its principal sponsor – investment firm Baillie Gifford – after boycotts from speakers and performers over the firm’s links to Israel and fossil fuel companies.

Whether festivals change tact with sponsorships or not, one agent suggested to IQ that the recent furore may prompt more caution with booking.

“We support our artists in whatever choice they make,” they told IQ. “But we are now looking closely at a festival’s sponsors in advance of confirming any appearance.”

MMF’s Coldrick says such vigilance is business as usual in the record industry: “Clearly, if any artist is passionate about a particular cause or issue and that might have implications on the shows they play, then they need to make this known to their manager and agent. Those kinds of conversations are quite standard when it comes to sync or brand deals. Going forward, maybe they need to be standard in live music too.”

 


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Festivals ’24 update: Mad Cool, Sziget, Latitude

Spain’s Mad Cool, Hungary’s Sziget and the UK’s Latitude are among the latest major European festivals to unveil their lineups for 2024.

Set for Madrid from 10-13 July, the expanded four-day Mad Cool will feature acts including Dua Lipa, the Smashing Pumpkins, Janelle Monáe, Pearl Jam, Motxila 21, Sum 41, Jessie Ware, Black Pumas, Tom Morello, Bring Me The Horizon and Avril Lavigne.

Also on the bill are artists such as Garbage, Nothing But Thieves, Tom Odell, Greta Van Fleet, Keane, Rels B, Michael Kiwanuka, The Breeders, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Alvvays, The Gaslight Anthem, Arlo Parks and Ashnikko.

Also in Spain, Benicàssim has confirmed Royal Blood, Black Eyed Peas and Wade for 18-20 July, and Live Nation’s O Gozo Festival in Galicia will welcome Ed Sheeran on 6 July.

Elsewhere, Sziget‘s first wave of acts includes Stormzy, Fred Again.., Sam Smith, Martin Garrix, AMEME, Blondshell, Eris Drew & Octo Octa, Fontaines D.C., Four Tet, Honey Dijon, Joost, Joesef, L’Impératrice, MEUTE, Nia Archives, Nova Twins, Overmono, Pip Blom, Warhaus, Becky Hill, Aurora and Louis Tomlinson. The festival will be held in Budapest from 7-12 August.

“We have already received a lot of positive feedback during this year’s Sziget about how much the festival has improved in almost all areas”

“We have already received a lot of positive feedback during this year’s Sziget about how much the festival has improved in almost all areas compared to the 2022 Sziget, and from the early bird ticket sales so far we can observe that there is a huge interest in the 2024 festival,” says CEO Tamás Kádár.

“This announcement, which is only the first ‘package’ for now, shows that next year Sziget will also feature big world stars, current artists and newly discovered musical specialities, so that everyone will be offered a strong and exciting selection of music, regardless of genre.”

Hungary will also witness the return of Balaton Sound to Lake Balaton, Zamardi, from 3-6 July, with top names including James Hype, Purple Disco Machine, Paul Kalkbrenner, John Newman, Marshmello, Lost Frequencies, Timmy Trumpet, Ben Nicky, Will Sparks, Nervo, Switch Disco and Nick Moreno.

Duran Duran, Kasabian, Keane, London Grammar and comedian Sara Pascoe will headline Festival Republic’s Latitude Festival at Henham Park in Suffolk from 25-28 July. The lineup also includes Khruangbin, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Orbital, Rag’n’Bone Man and Rick Astley, among others.

“Having Duran Duran, Kasabian, London Grammar, Keane, and Sara Pascoe leading the lineup at this year’s Latitude Festival truly epitomises our vision for a diverse and dynamic programme,” says festival director Melvin Benn. “Each performer brings their unique energy and style to the bill, promising an unforgettable experience for our audience. We strive to create a space where art and music converge in the most extraordinary ways, and this year’s music headliners capture the essence of that vision.”

“We are focused on improving our off-track entertainment across all our events year on year, and 2024 feels really special”

Meanwhile, Bru-C, Becky Hill and Ben Nicky will top the bill at Plymouth’s first electronic music festival Alive At Argyle at home Park on 25 May, and Busted, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Olly Murs have been announced as headliners for next year’s Silverstone Festival, taking place from 23-25 August.

“We are focused on improving our off-track entertainment across all our events year on year, and 2024 feels really special for Silverstone Festival, Formula 1 British Grand Prix and British Grand Prix MotoGP,” says Silverstone commercial director Nick Read. “We cannot wait as Silverstone Festival brings the love of motorsport and music together in one place.”

Last Tour’s MEO Kalorama will welcome the likes of Massive Attack, LCD Soundsystem, Sam Smith, The Kills, The Postal Service, Death Cab For Cutie, Overmono, Ezra Collective, Yard Act and Ana Lua Caiano to its third edition, which will take place in Portugal at Bela Vista Park, Lisbon, from 29-31 August.

In addition, FKP Scorpio Sweden’s Rosendal Garden Party will host the likes of Massive Attack, Raye, Grace Jones, The Cardigans and Turnstile in Stockholm from 14-16 June. FKP has also added more than 25 new names to its twin Hurricane and Southside festivals in Germany, including Deichkind, Ayliva, Idles, Feine Sahne Fischfilet, Tom Odell, Bombay Bicycle Club, Silverstein, Danko Jones, The Subways, Noga Erez, Fatoni, Paula Carolina, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, The Last Dinner Party, Buntspecht, Ritter Lean, Becky Hill, Fast Boy and The Reytons.

And Lana Del Rey is the latest headliner announced for France’s Rock en Seine. The American superstar will open the AEG-operated Paris festival at Domaine national de Saint-Cloud on 21 August.

 


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2024 lineups stack up: Lolla, Roskilde and more

Next year’s festival lineups are already beginning to take shape, with artist announcements from events including Lollapalooza, Roskilde, Download, Rock Werchter, Latitude, Nova Rock, Innings Festival, Welcome to Rockville and Hellfest.

Lollapalooza this week confirmed the lineups for its Chile, Argentina and Brazil editions, scheduled for next March.

Headliners include Blink-182, SZA, Paramore (Brazil only), Feid (Chile/Argentina only), Sam Smith, Arcade Fire and Limp Bizkit.

Hozier, The Offspring, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Diplo, Above & Beyond, Dom Dolla, Phoenix, ZHU, Rina Sawayama, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and Omar Apollo are also on the lineups.

The Chile and Argentina editions take place on 15-17 March at Parque Bicentenario de Cerrillos and at Hippodromo de San Isidro in Buenos Aires, respectively. Lollapalooza Brazil takes place 22-24 March at Autódromo de Interlagos in São Paulo.

Lolla South America headliners include Blink-182, SZA, Paramore, Feid, Sam Smith, Arcade Fire and Limp Bizkit

Lollapalooza in South America is produced by Perry Farrell, C3 Presents, Lotus Producciones (Chile), DF Entertainment (Argentina), and Rock World (Brazil).

The 2024 edition of Lollapalooza Brazil is the first to be managed by C3 Presents and Rock World (the company behind Rock in Rio) – both of which are majority-owned by Live Nation – it was announced in April.

Prior to that, Lolla Brazil was produced and promoted by South America’s leading live entertainment company T4F (Time For Fun) for 10 years.

Across the Atlantic, Denmark’s Roskilde festival has revealed 17 of 180 acts for next year’s instalment.

Foo Fighters, PJ Harvey, Kali Uchis, Blondshell, Romy and Gilli are among the acts set for the event, taking place between 29 June and 6 July 2024.

“I don’t mind admitting, this year for 2024 we approached 21 different headliners for Download… it’s been probably the hardest year”

Foo Fighters will also be headlining Belgium’s Rock Werchter, scheduled for 4–7 July at Festivalpark in Werchter.

Meanwhile, Download has announced more than 80 acts for its 21st edition, the follow-up to its fastest-selling edition in the event’s history.

Britain’s biggest heavy metal festival will be headlined by Queens Of The Stone Age, Avenged Sevenfold and Fall Out Boy in 2024.

Slipknot legend Corey Taylor, Pantera, Machine Head, The Offspring, Sum 41 and Royal Blood.

Download boss Andy Copping told Planet Rock that his booking team had found it “really tough” locking in these artists compared to previous years.

Live Nation’s Innings Festival will next year spawn a second weekend, dubbed Extra Innings

“I don’t mind admitting, this year for 2024 we approached 21 different headliners for Download,” he said. “It’s been probably the hardest year – I’ve said that in previous years before when it’s been hard to put the bill together – but this year has been particularly hard.”

Elsewhere in Live Nation’s portfolio, Latitude (UK) has secured Duran Duran a headliner for the 2024 offering, taking place in Suffolk’s Henham Park between 25–28 July, and Innings Festival (US) will return for a sixth edition next February with headliners by Red Hot Chili Peppers and Hozier.

The Arizona event will next year spawn a second weekend, dubbed Extra Innings, headlined by Chris Stapleton and Dave Matthews band.

The doubleheader weekends combine live music with Major League Baseball greats and interactive baseball-themed activations. Both take place from Tempe Beach Park & Arts Park during the Cactus League’s Spring Training.

Austria’s Nova Rock is also taking shape, with Green Day, Avenged Sevenfold, Måneskin and Bring Me The Horizon set to headline.

France’s Hellfest has confirmed Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, The Offspring, Megadeath and more

The event – promoted by Nova Music Entertainment, a part of CTS Eventim’s Barracuda Musicrecently added a fourth day for 2024.

The 55,000-capacity festival will take place between 13 and 16 June 2024 at its longstanding home of Pannonia Fields in Nickelsdorf, Burgenland.

Billy Talent, Corey Taylor, Jane’s Addiction, Parkway Drive, Pendulum, Machine Head, Avril Lavigne, Alice Cooper, Sum 41 and Baby Metal are among the other acts slated to play Nova Rock 2024.

Elsewhere in the rock and metal festival sphere, France’s Hellfest has confirmed Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, The Offspring, Megadeath, Dropkick Murphys, Royal Blood and Bad Omens among others.

The 17th edition will take place 27–30 June 2024 in Clisson. Four-day passes for the festival are already sold out.

Many of the same artists at Hellfest will also appear at Welcome to Rockville 2024, produced by Danny Wimmer presents.

Foo Fighters, Mötley Crüe, Slipknot, Jelly Roll, Disturbed, Limp Bizkit, Queens of the Stone Age, Judas Priest, Greta Van Fleet, Evanescence, Falling In Reverse, A Day To Remember, Breaking Benjamin and Bad Omens will perform at Daytona International Speedway in Florida on 9-12 May, 2024.

 


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LGBTIQ+ List 2023: Katherine Koranteng, Festival Republic

The LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – IQ Magazine’s third annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s third Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Check out yesterday’s profile with Ippei Kimura, booking/marketing/tour manager at Creativeman Productions in Tokyo, Japan.

The series continues with Katherine Koranteng (she/her/hers) marketing & campaigns manager at Festival Republic in London, UK.

Katherine Koranteng is the marketing manager of Latitude Festival, the 35,000-capacity music and multi-arts festival that takes place in Suffolk, England. Katherine (Kat) got her start attending London’s The Event Academy, shortly after securing an internship at MAMA Festivals, moving up to digital strategy assistant working on festivals like Lovebox and Citadel. In 2019, she moved over to Festival Republic, starting as a social media creator before ascending to digital content coordinator, where she delivered brilliant creative campaigns and content for some of the company’s biggest brands including Reading & Leeds and Wireless. In 2022, Kat was promoted to marketing lead at Latitude Festival, overseeing all marketing aspects of creative, advertising, sponsorship and delivering the marketing onsite deliverables and operations.


Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2023 so far.
Being promoted into my role as the marketing manager for Latitude and seeing it on track for a sell-out. What makes me particularly proud is supporting the queer community across the many stages. The late-night programming specifically includes a wide variety of performances, such as cabaret, burlesque, and drag shows.

Name one queer act you’re itching to see live this year.
The Cocoa Butter Club at Latitude this year. They’re a queer collective that showcases and celebrates performers of colour in burlesque, drag, and music.

What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
To me, queerness is all about freedom of expression. It’s about embracing who you are, being proud of yourself and standing firmly in your authenticity without being swayed by others’ opinions. My advice may sound cliché, but it holds true: Be yourself. Don’t feel pressured to conform or fit into a mould just because the environment around you may be different. Your true essence shines brightest when you embrace your unique self and let your pride and clarity guide your path.

“To me, queerness is all about freedom of expression”

In terms of challenges in the industry, what’s currently keeping you up at night?
One thing is the lack of diverse thought among influential decision-makers in the industry. While there is a gradual shift happening, there are still instances where artists are solely booked based on their commercial value, potentially sacrificing the true essence and spirit of the art. I remain hopeful for a future where the positive changes that are being made continue, where decisions about lineups embrace a wider range of perspectives and artistic integrity. It’s a challenge that we need to address and push for more expeditious change.

How do you see the live music business developing in the next few years?
Even more niche events and festivals catered to specific audiences. We have already seen the growth of festivals like Mighty Hoopla, which was created to provide a space for the queer community to enjoy music that represents happiness, joy, and queerness. This trend of catering to specific interests will likely continue to shape the live music business.

“[There’s] lack of diverse thought among influential decision-makers in the industry”

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
Embracing diverse thought. As a black, queer woman, I often find myself standing out in an environment where there is a lack of representation. It can be challenging to express your outlook on life when it feels like others might not relate. We need more individuals of all identities and walks of life, so voices can be heard, and new perspectives can be valued. I believe it ultimately comes down to the hiring process. It is essential to select individuals not only based on their skill set or institutions they’ve attended but also their genuine passion for and understanding of the music or art being presented.

Shout out to your biggest ally and live music industry
I’m not entirely sure if she is still active in the music industry, but I want to give a big shout-out to Olivia Timson. When I first joined Mama and worked at Lovebox festival, Olivia hired me. Lovebox featured an incredible celebration of queerness, expressed through the way people dressed, the music, and the lineup of DJs. Olivia played a significant role in opening my eyes to the abundance of love and self-expression within the industry. She encouraged me to follow my voice, be proud of who I am, and embrace my creativity. I’m truly grateful for her support and guidance.

 


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Festival Focus: More huge names confirmed for ’23

Another spate of European festivals have announced headliners and main stage artists for their 2023 editions.

Dutch festival Pinkpop has confirmed that British pop star Robbie Williams will return to Landgraaf for the first time since 2015.

He will close out Saturday night at the festival – which is said to be “the oldest and longest-running annual dedicated pop and rock music festival in the world” – while P!nk will top the bill on the Friday night. English indie rock band Editors and Dutch electronic band Goldband are also on the 2023 bill.

The 52nd edition of Pinkpop, promoted by Live Nation-owned Mojo Concerts, will take place between 16–18 June, next year.

Williams is also set to perform at the UK’s Isle of Wight festival, alongside Pulp, George Ezra and Chemical Brothers. Sugarbabes, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Anne-Marie, Gabrielle, Blondie and Ella Henderson have also been confirmed for the event, which runs between 15–18 June in Seaclose Park, Newport.

The festival is promoted by Solo Agency’s John Giddings and Live Nation.

Lowlands: “The oldest and longest-running annual dedicated pop and rock music festival in the world”

Elsewhere in the UK, DF Concert’s TRNSMT festival will see Pulp, George Ezra, Niall Horan, Sam Fender, Kasabian, The 1975 and Royal Blood perform at Glasgow Green in Scotland between 7–9 July next year.

Further South in the UK, Latitude will bring Pulp, Paulo Nutini, George Ezra, The Kooks, Metronomy to Henham Park, Suffolk, between 20–23 July.

In Poland, promoter Alter Art has announced Arctic Monkeys for the 2023 edition of Open’er, slated for 28 June to 1 July at Gdynia-Kosakowo in Gdynia. The English rockstars will close the Orange Main Stage on the Friday night, in support of their new album The Car.

And in neighbouring Czech Republic, Colours of Ostrava have confirmed US pop rock band One Republic as the first headliner for next year’s instalment, set for 19–22 July at Dolní Vítkovice in Ostrava.

 


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Over 100k fans enjoy huge UK festival weekend

Hundreds of thousands of music fans flocked to open-air venues across the UK last weekend for the country’s first big festival weekend since the summer of 2019.

Festival Republic’s Latitude and Superstruct-backed Tramlines, both 40,000-capacity, Broadwick Live’s Standon Calling (15,000-cap.) and Alexandra Palace’s Kaleidoscope (10,000-cap.) were among the events to take advantage of Covid-status certification – ie requiring proof of vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test from attendees – to do away with social distancing and create the first ‘normal’ festival experiences of the coronavirus era.

While the two biggest events were held as government-backed pilots as part of the Events Research Programme (ERP), all four festivals implemented some form of pre-event screening for Covid-19 status: Latitude, Tramlines and Kaleidoscope used the NHS (National Health Service) Covid Pass app to check festivalgoers were either fully vaccinated or had returned a negative test, while Standon Calling went a step further, requiring a negative test even if attendees had received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Latitude took place from 22 to 25 July at Henham Park in Suffolk with performers including Bastille, Wolf Alice, the Chemical Brothers and Bombay Bicycle Club.

Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn told local media that the stringent entry requirements meant the Latitude site was “close to being the safest place in England” last weekend, with even performers not able to bypass the checks (two acts, Fontaines DC and Alfie Templeman, were forced to cancel after testing positive and were replaced by Sleaford Mods and Sports Team, respectively).

Staff were “breaking down in tears” over being able to work again

The first festival most of those in attendance had been to since 2019, the same applied to many of the event’s staff; Benn told the BBC he knew of technicians and support staff who had been “breaking down in tears” that they were able to work again after 16 months of minimal event activity.

In addition to the music and comedy programme – other performers included Rudimental, Damon Albarn, Supergrass, Hot Chip, Kaiser Chiefs, Bill Bailey and king of the internet Rick Astley – Latitude also featured a ‘vaccine bus’, staffed by NHS workers, where over-18s could get either their first or second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine on a walk-in basis.

In Hertfordshire, popular boutique event Standon Calling made a welcome return from 22 to 25 July, planning four days of family friendly fun headlined by Bastille, Hot Chip, Primal Scream and Craig David’s TS5.

Though it, too, successfully navigated Covid-19 to go ahead as planned, the festival came to an abrupt end yesterday after organisers were forced to pull the plug due to the flash flooding which had left much of southern England underwater.

Among the artists booked to play on Sunday were Primal Scream, Craig David, De La Soul and Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

“Hearing the first band ring out over the festival was an emotional moment”

Also taking part in the ERP was Tramlines, which welcomed 40,000 people a day to Hillsborough Park in Sheffield from 23 to 25 July.

Featuring performances from the Streets, Dizzee Rascal, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Little Simz, the Sherlocks and more, the sold-out event grew both its capacity and festival site for 2021, adding 10,000 people, a new cabaret stage, The Open Arms, and a new arena for its second, T’Other stage to become the biggest Tramlines yet.

“After 18 months of strangeness, it was unbelievable to be back in the park again,” says the festival’s operations director, Timm Cleasby. “There have been so many hurdles we’ve had to jump to get here and, honestly, it’s been quite a rollercoaster. It’s been great to see so many happy smiling faces, from crew getting back to the thing they love to revellers having the time of their lives watching the bands they love. Hearing the first band ring out over the festival was an emotional moment.

“I’d really like to thank everyone for playing their part with the NHS Covid Pass system. It ran very smoothly, and by being part of the Events Research Programme together we’re helping to pave the way for festivals and live events to get back to normal. I’m full of gratitude for everyone: our amazing crew and suppliers, the support from the DCMS [Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport], Public Health Sheffield, Sheffield Council and, of course, our fans. Thank you all for helping us do this – we love you all and we can’t wait to see you all next year.”

 


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Wireless cancels as more UK fests call time on 2020

Festival Republic’s Wireless Festival and an open-air the 1975 show are the latest losses to the UK’s 2020 summer calendar, in a week that also saw Oxfordshire’s Cornbury Music Festival and metal event Bloodstock move to 2021.

The UK’s summer festival season is looking increasingly uncertain, as organisers wait for the government to reveal details of its exit plan. The country has been in lockdown since 23 March.

“Wireless Festival will no longer be taking place this year,” reads a statement from organisers. “As you know we’ve been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation, and it’s become clear that cancelling is unavoidable.

“Subject to contract, Wireless Festival will be back next year on 2 to 4 July 2021 and will be worth the wait,” continue organisers, urging fans to “keep your eyes peeled” for news on the virtual edition of the festivals.

The urban music event, which had booked ASAP Rocky, D-Block Europe and Lil Uzi Thug for this year, has encountered licensing restrictions imposed by the local council around its home in Finsbury Park.

The promoter has also announced the cancellation of an eco-friendly show by the 1975 at Finsbury Park, scheduled for 11 July. The show, which was also to feature Charli XCX, Clairo and Pale Waves, was set to be the Manchester band’s biggest show ever.

“We’ve been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation, and it’s become clear that cancelling is unavoidable”

Festival Republic had previously called off the 2020 outings of Download Festival, set to feature Kiss, Iron Maiden and System of a Down, and Latitude, which had a line-up including Liam Gallagher, Haim and the Chemical Brothers.

This week also saw the cancellation of the 20,000-capacity Cornbury Music Festival, which was to feature Dido, Jack Savoretti and the Waterboys, as well as Judas Priest-headlined metal festival Bloodstock. Organisers say the event will be back for a bumper five-day edition in 2021.

Other major UK festivals to cancel due to the coronavirus outbreak include Boomtown (Wu-Tang Clan, Underworld, the Libertines), Bluedot (Bjork, Metronomy, Groove Armada), Black Deer (Wilco, the Waterboys, the Dead South) and Y Not Festival (Royal Blood, Richard Ashcroft, Bombay Bicycle Club), adding to cancellations of AEG Presents’ All Points East and British Summer Time Hyde Park, Live Nation’s Parklife, Lovebox and Isle of Wight Festival, and Glastonbury Festival.

In Scotland, which has limited self-government within the UK, DF Concerts’ Trnsmt (Courteeners, Liam Gallagher, Lewis Capaldi) and Regular Music’s Summer Nights at the Bandstand (Rick Astley, Van Morrison, Primal Scream) cancelled after first minster Nicola Sturgeon suggested public gatherings would be banned for the foreseeable future.

In the neighbouring country of the Republic of Ireland, festivals including Longitude and All Together Now cancelled last month, as the government announced a blanket ban on events over 5,000 people until 31 August, although it recently indicated that smaller events would be permitted from 10 August.

 


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Lucy Wood joins Roundhouse as head of music

Former Festival Republic booker Lucy Wood has joined iconic London venue the Roundhouse (1,700-seat) as head of music, effective from the end of March.

Wood succeeds Jane Beese in the role, who left the Roundhouse at the end of last year to take up the position as head of music at Manchester International Festival (MIF) after five years at the venue.

Having previously led the music programming for Latitude Festival, which last year saw performances from Lana Del Rey, George Ezra, Snow Patrol, Loyle Carner and Primal Scream, Wood will now head up the music team at the Roundhouse, which hosts over 100 shows a year, as well as in-house festivals In the Round and Roundhouse Rising.

With 15 years’ experience in the music industry, Wood has previously held roles at 19 Entertainment, Warp Records and Eat Your Own Ears, working on festivals such as Field Day and promoting shows by Grimes, the xx and Four Tet.

As part of her Roundhouse role, Wood will help expand the venue’s onsite music programme for 11 to 25 year olds, developing the current site with a new talent development centre.

“We are really looking forward to welcoming Lucy to the team at such an exciting time for the Roundhouse”

“We are really looking forward to welcoming Lucy to the team at such an exciting time for the Roundhouse,” says the Roundhouse programmes director Delia Barker.

“She has a great track record and is well respected across the industry and will bring an incredible energy to support our emerging artists – all whilst programming some of the biggest names in the world on our iconic stage.”

Wood comments: “I’ve had a brilliant three years working with amazing music from across the spectrum of genres at Latitude, as part of Festival Republic – building on my time promoting at London’s cherished Eat Your Own Ears.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the team at the Roundhouse, a world-class arts institution with incredible history, and to be supporting its exceptional work with young people.”

Upcoming acts playing at the Roundhouse include Sigala and the Growlers, as well as shows by Sports Team, Michael Kiwanuka, Kate Tempest and Roisin Murphy as part of the 6 Music Festival. The Strokes performed a special, intimate show at the venue last night (19 February).

 


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FR launches International Women’s Day event

Festival Republic has announced ReBalance Celebrates International Women’s Day, a networking event for women across the live music industry, as part of the promoter’s gender equality programme, ReBalance.

The event is taking place at the 900-capacity Union Chapel in Islington, London, on Sunday 8 March, the day dedicated to recognising the movement for women’s rights worldwide.

Last year’s International Women’s Day saw pop star Dua Lipa speak at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in London, who illustrated the struggle faced by young female artists trying to break into the industry.

Festival Republic is looking to combat this, with a daytime programme aimed at introducing those who want a career in the industry to women working within it. Professionals from Festival Republic, Live Nation, PRS Foundation, Academy Music Group, Sony Music, MAMA, Melody VR, Metropolis Music, the BBC, National Merchandise and Safe Gigs for Women will be in present to offer advice and deliver educational talks.

An evening performance from singer Nilüfer Yanya will follow the networking event, as well as appearances from Martha Hill and Tamzene, two artists to have come through Festival Republic’s ReBalance programme.

“We are incredibly proud of what ReBalance has achieved, so it only made sense to take the scheme further”

Launched in 2017, ReBalance is a six-year programme combatting the gender imbalance within the music industry. It offers five day’s studio time to one core female-identified band and artist each month, as well as a slot of a Festival Republic or Live Nation festival.

So far, 300 nominations have been made across six rounds, with 19 finalists performing live at The Great Escape, Wireless, Latitude and Reading and Leeds Festivals.

“We are incredibly proud of what ReBalance has achieved, so it only made sense to take the scheme further by hosting an event on International Women’s Day for those who want to meet women in the industry,” says the ReBalance team.

“Aimed at newcomers or if you’re just curious, this event is the chance to learn from the brightest stars and pick up some tips. Lack of female representation in music is an industry-wide issue, and we want to level it.”

Day tickets for ReBalance Celebrates International Women’s Day can be purchased for a £2 charity donation to Safe Gigs for Women, with evening tickets priced at £17.50. All tickets are available here.

Photo: Paul Hudson/Flickr (cropped) (CC BY 2.0)

 


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