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‘Apocalyptic’ storms hit France’s Eurockéennes

The opening two days of France’s Eurockéennes de Belfort have been cancelled after falling victim to inclement weather.

The 35,000-cap festival was due to have hosted acts including Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Stromae, Diplo, Joy Crookes, Big Thief and Girl in Red from 30 June to 1 July, but is now set to start at 4pm tomorrow (2 July).

Organisers say “sudden and unexpected” weather and strong winds caused significant damage to the festival campsite yesterday, including the main stage roof and Malsaucy peninsula.

“Damage caused by rain and strong winds requires meticulous verification of installations and structures, which is essential for everyone’s safety,” they add.

France Blue reports that seven people were injured in the storm, with one eyewitness describing the scenes as “apocalyptic”. Some 3,000 to 4,000 people were estimated to have arrived onsite at the time, with 1,500 to 2,000 festival-goers needing to be accommodated in a permanent structure for the night due to their tents being torn or blown away.

“The festival teams are making every effort to continue to welcome festival-campers in the best conditions”

The campsite has since reopened, with artists still scheduled to appear at the festival over the weekend including Muse, Foals, Simple Minds and Declan McKenna.

“The festival teams are making every effort to continue to welcome festival-campers in the best conditions,” adds a statement.

Thursday and Friday day ticket-holders will receive a full refund, with those with three-day and four-day passes receiving 66% and 55% refunds, respectively.

Eurockéennes 2020 and 2021 editions were both cancelled because of the pandemic.

 


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French festivalgoers unwilling to attend seated festivals

The majority of French festivalgoers would not be willing to attend Eurockéennes de Belfort 2021 if they were required to be seated for the duration, according to a survey conducted by the festival.

The survey aimed to find whether festivalgoers would be willing to attend this summer’s edition with the restrictions recently announced by the government.

The restrictions, announced at the end of last month, require both indoor and outdoor festivals to limit attendance to 5,000 people, who must be seated and socially distanced.

The survey attracted 21,418 respondents, 72% of which said they would not be willing to attend a seated version of Eurockéennes this year.

One per cent of respondents did not answer the questions but 27% of respondents (around 6,000 people) said they would be willing to attend, which is more than the capacity limit.

Almost half of the respondents (48%) said they would not be willing to attend this year’s festival if social distancing was imposed and 73% would not attend if refreshments were not available.

Almost half of the respondents said they would not be willing to attend this year’s festival if social distancing was imposed

However, the majority of festivalgoers would agree to wear a mask (72%) and present results of a Covid-19 screening test for access to the festival (69%).

Eurockéennes, which was cancelled in 2020, is due to take place from 1 to 4 July this year, featuring acts including Massive Attack, the Lumineers, Foals, Simple Minds and Diplo. The 2019 edition was attended by 130,000 people.

Though the minister for culture, Roselyne Bachelot, announced a €30 million compensation fund for organisers alongside the restrictions, the French live industry has criticised the framework.

France’s trade union, the SMA (Syndicat des Musiques Actuelles), said “a seated event bringing together 5,000 maximum people, perhaps without access to the bar or the restaurant, cannot be called a festival”.

AEG Presents France GM and VP, Arnaud Meerseeman, said the “loose framework” and the issues it presents “points to another empty season”.

French metal festival Hellfest Open Air (cap. 60,000) was the first major French festival to cancel, saying that “to accept these overly restrictive rules would go against the very DNA of the festival”.

 


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Massive Attack announce latest eco initiative

Bristol band Massive Attack have announced they will travel by train when touring Europe in future, in the group’s latest attempt to tackle the live industry’s carbon footprint.

The announcement follows the band’s commissioning of the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to look into ways in which the live music industry can reduce its carbon footprint. Band travel is one of the three key areas the research will focus on, along with audience transport and venues.

Massive Attack were also among acts to perform at the Extinction Rebellion climate protests in London in October 2019.

Currently on tour in North America, Massive Attack will return to Europe in summer 2020, making appearances at the Netherlands’ Best Kept Secret Festival and Les Eurockéennes in France, among others.

“The challenge now is to not only make personal sacrifices, but to insist on the systemic change that’s needed”

Lead singer Robert Del Naja, also known as 3D, told the BBC: “[As musicians] we have enjoyed a high-carbon lifestyle. But as a society we’ve all existed in a fossil-fuel economy for a long time and had very little choice in that.

“The challenge now is to not only make personal sacrifices, but to insist on the systemic change that’s needed. Business as usual is over.”

Coda Agency and A Greener Festival (AGF) launched the Green Artist Rider at the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) in March last year, in a bid to reduce the environmental impact of touring. Tickets for GEI 2020 are available here.

 


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