Giddings on Lady Gaga’s seminal stadium run
John Giddings has told IQ how the European leg of Lady Gaga’s rescheduled worldwide stadium tour triumphed over prevailing issues.
More than 280,000 tickets sold for the six-date leg of The Chromatica Ball, which wrapped last weekend with two sold-out shows at Tottenham Hotspur stadium (cap. 62,850) in London.
The Live Nation-promoted tour, which also visited stadiums in Germany, Sweden, France and the Netherlands, marked the first-ever public live performances of Gaga’s #1 selling and Grammy-award-winning album Chromatica (2020).
“The show is incredible and everyone was blown away,” says Giddings, who worked as the European tour coordinator for Live Nation. “She’s proved herself to be a world-class superstar and this is her coming of age.
“Selling 280,000 tickets is fantastic,” he continues. “After the pandemic, you’re a) worried about selling tickets and b) worried that the people who have bought tickets either won’t come or will ask for a refund because they’ve got Covid. So it was a fantastic success to have all these people turn up.”
While Gaga’s packed venues bucked the no-show trend that some tours are still experiencing, the Solo boss says the European leg faced some of the same challenges, from staff shortages to illnesses to production costs.
“The problems of touring are two or three times worse than they were before the pandemic”
“First of all, you’ve got Brexit, so you have to import and export to each country,” he explains. “Then there’s the pandemic to go with it because – remember – countries like Germany are still a bit behind and you have to wear masks on planes and things like that.”
Countering the ongoing prevalence of Covid-19, the tour required crew to take a test and put on a mask before going backstage. “It was like the old days in the UK when you couldn’t walk down the road without taking a test first,” he says.
Add in the rising cost of fuel (which Giddings says costs at least a third more than it did pre-pandemic) and uncertainty around cancelled planes and trains, and The Chromatica Ball became a triumph over adversity.
The outcome, Giddings says, was an “incredibly successful tour” which garnered glowing reviews across the board. VICE said Gaga’s London show was “a once-in-a-lifetime artist playing a once-in-a-lifetime show” while NME hailed it “a thrilling, high-concept return from pop’s finest” and Evening Standard says it was “as perfect as a performance gets”.
The tour even broke some personal records for Gaga, who performed for her largest audience to date – 78,500 attendees – at Paris’ Stade de France.
But it was the shows at Tottenham Hotspur stadium that proved to be the standout dates for the Isle of Wight boss. “I have to give a gold star to Tottenham Hotspur stadium because it was fantastic and they really looked after us well,” says Giddings. “There was brilliant sound and the production looked incredible in there. The way it was built is perfect for a show.”
The Chromatica Ball tour continues across North America and Asia for 14 more shows with stadium stops in Canada, the US and Japan.
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Top agents discuss the war’s impact on touring
Top agents from the western world have discussed how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may impact the future of international touring.
Meanwhile, a growing number of artists are cancelling concerts in Russia including Green Day, Oxxxymiron, AJR, Imagine Dragons, Louis Tomlinson, Yungblud, Franz Ferdinand, Health, Roisin Murphy, Iggy Pop, The Killers, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Bring Me the Horizon.
Paradigm’s Tom Schroeder tells IQ that the outlook for future international shows in Russia is “pretty bleak”.
“Unless there is a really significant change to the situation, I think Russia could be pushed out in the cold as a touring market for some time. It’s important to say, I have been talking to our Russian promoter friends this week, making it clear we know this is Putin’s war, not Russia’s war, and we support them fully.
“I think Russia could be pushed out in the cold as a touring market for some time”
“Sadly that doesn’t mean it is viable as a touring market, and they are very aware. After the last two years we have all faced, for these promoters to now have this – is mind-blowing, and heartbreaking,” he adds.
Solo’s John Giddings echoes Schroeder’s sentiment: “I can’t see any shows being booked there in the foreseeable future. We have cancelled Iggy Pop and we’re in the process of cancelling all of our shows there. We were negotiating other tours but never got to confirmation because of the uncertainty.
“I don’t think Putin is going to care much about having no concerts but the population will and hopefully put pressure on him to stop. The music business has to act as one – alongside all of the other sanctions”
Paradigm’s Alex Hardee, who represents Louis Tomlinson, added: “I cant see that acts would be willing to tour Russia until the Putin regime ends. Unfortunately, acts won’t be able to tour Ukraine until the same regime ends for entirely different reasons.”
But how will Russia’s isolation from the international touring industry affect artists whose income is partly made up from the private gig economy?
“This is a point of considerable concern – how much bleed there is into other countries”
For years, western artists – such as George Michael and Amy Winehouse – have been able to secure lucrative deals playing at private and corporate parties in Russia.
“[The private gig economy] is a significant market for us,” admits Schroeder, “but in reality, everyone can still rebuild post-Covid without it. I just hope we quickly get to the point where art can heal – like it has done so much in the past.”
Sadly, it’s not just Russia’s live music industry that will suffer as a result of Putin’s all-out assault on Ukraine. Both Schroeder and Giddings anticipate repercussions for neighbouring markets, such as Poland and Romania, too.
“This is a point of considerable concern – how much bleed there is into other countries,” says Schroeder. “I expect there will be concern and caution from US-based acts – we really need to see what happens with the conflict and how contained it is. It is very early days, and the priority is the safety and protection of Ukraine, not our desire to put on gigs.”
Giddings believes there will be a “heavy impact” on the aforementioned eastern European nations: “With fuel prices rising, among other costs, and probably currency fluctuations, it will be hard to make offers that are sustainable.”
“I don’t see us having to cancel dates in neighbouring countries for the time being”
He also thinks that fewer international artists, in particular those from the US, will want to tour eastern Europe because of the conflict.
“We book tours well in advance and no one knows whether the war will expand or not, so until there is some certainty, artists will not want to take the risk – financially, or for their own safety.”
But for now, Hardee says, tours previously scheduled to visit eastern Europe will remain intact.
“I don’t see us having to cancel dates in neighbouring countries for the time being,” he says. “Most tours don’t depend on Russia or Ukraine to work so I haven’t seen any tours yet fall down, due to the forced cancellation of individual dates in these territories.
“Everyone seems to be strong in their resolve against Putin and let’s be clear this is a war against Putin and not the Russian people.”
“Let’s be clear this is a war against Putin and not the Russian people”
Meanwhile, sanctions implemented by the EU, the UK and the US could have an effect on live music markets around the world – not just the neighbours of Ukraine and Russia.
UK artists are prohibited from playing at Finland’s largest arena, the Hartwall arena (cap. 13,349) in Helsinki, after two of the three owners were added to the UK’s sanctions list.
Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko and Boris Rotenberg, who founded Arena Events Oy in 2013 and bought 100% of the arena, are among the 120 oligarchs and businesses that have wound up on the list.
Timchenko is Russia’s sixth richest oligarch and close friend of Russian president Putin. He also owns the private investment firm Volga Group, which has holdings in energy, transport, infrastructure and financial services.
Rotenberg is a co-owner of SMP Bank, which is linked to the energy firm Gazprom. Rotenberg is described as having “close personal ties” to Putin, a friend since childhood when they trained in judo together.
Arena Events Oy co-founder and brother of Boris, Arkady Rotenberg, is not on the sanctions list.
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IQ Focus returns with ‘Festival Forum: The Next Stage’
After a week’s break, IQ’s virtual panel series – IQ Focus – is back with Festival Forum: The Next Stage, which sees representatives from a handful of European festivals give an update on the state of the sector.
The ninth panel of the popular IQ Focus series, the session will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on Thursday 9 July at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET, building on a previous Festival Forum panel almost two months on.
Midway through what would have been this year’s festival season, it’s a summer like no other. But are we midway through the crisis, or is there still further to go before the festival sector can confidently progress into 2021?
How confident are promoters feeling about next year, and are artists and audiences ready to return?
With a number of government support packages in place, and much of this year’s line-ups transplanted to next year, how confident are promoters feeling about next year, and are artists and audiences ready to return?
IQ Magazine editor Gordon Masson hosts this IQ Focus discussion with panellists Cindy Castillo of Spain’s Mad Cool festival; John Giddings of the Isle of Wight Festival and Solo Agency; Stefan Lehmkuhl who promotes Splash, Melt, Superbloom and With Full Force festivals at Germany’s Goodlive; and Codruta Vulcu of Romania’s ARTmania Festival.
All previous IQ Focus sessions, which have looked at topics including diversity in live, management under lockdown, the agency business, large-scale and grassroots music venues and innovation in live music, can be watched back here.
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New signings and rising stars (July 2020)
UK four-piece Lime, a new signing for Pitch & Smith’s Duncan Smith, and US pop-poet Taylor Castro, newly repped by John Giddings at Solo, are among the latest acts to have been added to the rosters of international agents.
Find out more, and check out the full list of new signings for June–July, below. Plus, if you haven’t already, make sure to listen to IQ’s latest New Signings playlist, which complements the page in the magazine and features even more up-and-coming talent…
Agent: Duncan Smith, Pitch & Smith
Brighton quartet Lime jump over genre boundaries with an energy that oozes from every corner, weaving post-punk foundations with earworm melodies and razor-sharp, tongue-in-cheek lyrics.
With debut single ‘Surf N Turf’ already passing 30,000 streams and landing a spot on the BBC 6 Music playlist, the band are set to follow up with new music in late summer and a busy live schedule (fingers crossed!), including supports with Happyness, Junodream and more.
Taylor Castro (US)
Agent: John Giddings, Solo Agency
Poetic lyrics, such as those on ‘Abyss’, is one sure-fire way Taylor Castro sets herself apart from the oversaturated market of pop music. The instrumentation indicates Castro as someone with a keen eye on the trends of the music industry, with her outstanding lyrics tucked away in a package disguised as the hit of the summer.
The fairytale-like ‘Abyss’ is one of the finest feats of storytelling you will see in the charts. This is a talent caught right at the beginning of her journey, and we are privileged to share it with her.
For full artist listings, including new signings for ATC Live, UTA, Paradigm, Primary Talent, ITB, Cabin Artists, Fmly, Pitch & Smith, Progressive Artists and the Lullabye Factory, see the digital edition of IQ 90:
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Arthur Awards 2020: All the winners
The 26th annual Arthur Awards, the live music industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, took place at London’s Sheraton Grand Park Lane hotel last night. The awards, which take place as part of the ongoing International Live Music Conference (ILMC), honoured the industry’s best and brightest across 11 awards categories.
The prizes were handed out during the Arthur Awards Winners’ Dinner, hosted by CAA’s Emma Banks, who took to the stage in a full hazmat suit and gas mask emblazoned with the letters CAA across her back in hazard warning tape.
As the evening culminated with The Bottle Award, the unique industry achievement gong, Emma was invited back on stage to receive it, to loud applause and a standing ovation. “If I should say anything, it’s that we should all pick up the phone more,” she said. “You can’t have a relationship via text message or Whatsapp. We need to speak to each, to be more nice to each other.”
It was a successful night all round for CAA, as Summer Marshall won the Second Least Offensive Agent award.
The prizes were handed out during the Arthur Awards Winners’ Dinner, hosted by CAA’s Emma Banks
Elsewhere, Live Nation’s Kelly Chappel took the best promoter gong, French festival Eurockéennes was crowned best festival, All Points East won best new event, London’s Roundhouse received the best venue award and Charly Beedell-Tuck from Solo Agency won the Tomorrow’s New Boss award, which recognises the industry’s most promising new business talent.
Notably, all Arthurs for individuals – the prizes for best assistant, professional services, new business talent, agent and promoter, as well as the Bottle award – went to women.
The full list of winners is below:
Venue (First Venue To Come Into Your Head)
Promoter (The Promoters’ Promoter)
Kelly Chappel, Live Nation
Festival (Liggers’ Favourite Festival)
Agent (Second Least Offensive Agent)
Summer Marshall, CAA
Production Services (Services Above and Beyond)
Professional Services (Most Professional Professional)
Tina Richard, T&S Immigration Services
New Gig on the Block (New Event)
All Points East, UK
Assistant (The People’s Assistant)
San Phillips, Kilimanjaro Live
Ticketing (The Golden Ticket)
New Business Talent (Tomorrow’s New Boss)
Charly Beedell-Tuck, Solo
The Bottle Award
Emma Banks, CAA
Prior to the Arthurs, ILMC head Greg Parmley presented two special ILMC Medal of Honour awards for longstanding service to the organisation. Production manager Bill Martin and agenda consultant Allan McGowan were both invited to the stage. “Bill is nothing short of a magician,” Parmley said, “He juggles set design, lighting, stands, stages, and a hundred other elements to make the conference and this dinner happen every year.”
And speaking of McGowan, he said, “Across two decades, Allan has been a central figure in all of ILMC’s panels, putting hundreds of them together. And for ten years, his role as associate editor on IQ was instrumental in the magazine’s growth.”
ILMC 32 unveils third wave of speakers
A diverse and international group of industry professionals make up the latest round of speakers for the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) and Futures Forum, which take place in London in March.
The group, which join previously announced panel chairs and workshop hosts, as well as many high-profile guest speakers, includes representatives from Live Nation, ICM Partners, Paradigm, the O2 Arena, Fullsteam, Solo Agency and many more.
A highly international delegation of speakers come together for The Global Marketplace: Games without frontiers session, with representatives from Live Nation Asia, Korea’s International Creative Agency, UAE’s Flash Entertainment, Brazil’s Live Talentos and Singapore’s Midas Promotions, as well as a Kenyan-based agent from Austria’s Georg Leitner Productions.
Futures Forum is back with a bang on Friday 6 March, after a successful debut outing last year. The OK, Boomer: Closing the generation gap panel sees Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery and Anna-Sophie Mertens, ICM Partners’ Scott Mantell and Kevin Jergenson, and CAA’s Maria May and Jen Hammel join forces in an all-new session pairing up senior executives with their more junior counterparts.
Futures Forum is back with a bang, after a highly successful debut outing last year
More highlights on the future-focused day include the Meet the New Bosses: Class of 2020 session, chaired by Ticketmaster’s Jo Young, and featuring new bosses Charly Beedell-Tuck (Solo Agency), Matt Pickering-Copley (Primary Talent International) and Marc Saunders (the O2), three of the list of twelve future live music industry leaders selected by ILMC and IQ Magazine this year.
Following on from last year’s thought-provoking panel on wellbeing, the Mental Health: Next steps for live discussion, led by ATC Live’s Stacey Pragnell, will feature guest speakers Adam Ficek (Babyshambles/Music & Mind), Richard Mutimer (Paradigm), Aino-Maria Paasivirta (Fullsteam Agency) and Joe Hastings (Help Musicians) and look at how to formulate a healthier and happier industry for the future.
With over 100 speakers and 40 sessions over the whole conference, there are plenty of big names and exciting details left to be announced in the coming weeks.
ILMC is taking place from 3 to 6 March at the Royal Garden Hotel in London. Companies supporting this year’s conference include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, Eventim, WME, Universe, Livestyled, Tysers, Joy Station, Mojo Rental and Showsec.
Second wave of speakers revealed for ILMC 2020
Organisers of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) have released the second wave of speakers for this year’s event, following on from the launch of the 2020 conference programme last week.
In addition to the previously announced session chairs and workshop hosts – which include top players from ATC Live, C3 Presents, Live Nation, Fullsteam Agency, Kilimanjaro Live, Ticketmaster and Metropolis Music – a whole host of guest speakers have been added to the line-up.
The opening day of the conference sees CAA’s Emma Banks, Live Nation Spain’s Pino Sagliocco, BookMyShow’s Ashish Hemrajani and Move Concert’s Phil Rodriguez take to the stage for the Paul Latham-chaired The Open Forum: Universally challenged, as ILMC’s traditional opening session takes on a game show twist.
Elsewhere, AEG Europe CEO and president Alex Hill and Mayland AG’s Matthias C Just are among those taking part in a session on industry investment.
Day two of ILMC brings an all-star line-up for The Venue’s Venue session, chair by the European Arenas Association/AEG’s John Langford and featuring Live Nation’s David Davies, OVG’s Brian Kabatznick, LiveStyled’s Harry Samuel, ASM Global’s Tom Lynch and Thomas Ovesen of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority.
Organisers of the International Live Music Conference have released the second wave of speakers for this year’s event
ASM Global’s Tom Lynch also leads the Venue Summit: Alternative content discussion at the new conference space at the Baglioni Hotel, with the O2’s Emma Bownes, Stockholm Live’s Jenny Blomqvist and Alexandra Palace’s Lucy Fenner.
Other announced speakers include Jeremy Paterson (IF Media Consultancy), Francesca Blackburn (WME), Debbie Ward (Paradigm), Arnold Bernard (Harlem Globetrotters) and Nicolás Renna (Proactiv).
Further sessions and details of all guest speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.
ILMC takes place at the Royal Garden Hotel in London from 3 to 6 March. Companies supporting this year’s conference include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, Eventim, WME, Universe, Livestyled, Tysers, Joy Station, Mojo Rental and Showsec.
Going Dutch: What to expect from ESNS 2020
Much of the European music industry is preparing for its yearly pilgrimage to the Netherlands, as conference and showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) is set to commence tomorrow, 15 January, in the Dutch city of Groningen.
Combining a daytime conference programme with a packed evening showcase schedule, ESNS 2020 welcomes Switzerland as its focus nation this year, with over 20 emerging Swiss acts performing throughout the event and aiming to impress in the European Talent Exchange Programme (ETEP), which saw success for ATC Live-repped punk rockers Fontaines DC last year.
The 2019 European Festival Awards kick off proceedings on Wednesday evening, hosted by IQ Magazine’s Gordon Masson and A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neill, and featuring performances from artists including Swiss singer-songwriter Marius Bear.
Wacken Open Air founders Holger Hübner and Thomas Jensen are set to receive the lifetime achievement accolade at the ceremony, which will see winners crowned across 15 categories.
Over 150 panels, along with keynote interviews, workshops and networking opportunities, will take place at ESNS 2020
Over 150 panels, along with keynote interviews and workshops, will take place at ESNS 2020 from 16 to 19 January at conference centre De Oosterpoort, with a new city-centre location, Forum Groningen, hosting sessions over the weekend.
Highlights of the conference programme include ‘the Dickins Dynasty’, which sees ITB co-founder Barry Dickins and his daughter Lucy, head of WME’s UK music division, and son Jonathan, founder and CEO of September Management, in conversation with ILMC MD Greg Parmley, as well as a keynote interview with Isle of Wight Festival and Solo Agency’s John Giddings.
Other notable sessions include a keynote from Ticketmaster’s Don Pawley, ‘the Agents Panel’ with Paradigm’s Paul Buck, ATC Live’s Alex Bruford, X-ray Touring’s Beckie Sugden and CAA’s Maria May, and a panel on boutique festivals featuring representatives from Openair St.Gallen, Bluedot/Kendal Calling, Westway Lab and Release Athens.
ESNS 2019 attracted over 42,000 guests from 44 countries, including 4,100 conference delegates and representatives from 423 festivals, and showcased 342 acts across more than 40 stages.
Angry punks and happy faces: industry pros talk breakthroughs
Hard work, knowing the right people and a slice of good luck can all play a part in getting a proper footing on the career ladder. IQ puts some more ILMC regulars in the spotlight and asks them to share their breakthrough moments…
John Giddings, Solo Agency
When I was about 14 years old, a mate at school persuaded me to learn to play bass guitar, with the promise that we would pull chicks. I had to borrow a bass because I could not afford to buy one and that’s why, to this day, I play bass guitar with a right-handed guitar, upside down, because I’m left handed.
We were at a gig and we were playing ‘The Nile Song’ from Pink Floyd’s More album and this punk came up to the stage and said, “If you don’t stop playing, now, then I’m going to fucking hit you!”
That was the end of my career as a musician, but I knew I wanted to be part of the live music thing, even if I was not capable of being onstage.
In those days, we just used to listen to LPs on our own in our bedroom, but I remember going to Isle of Wight Festival and walking over the top of the hill to see 600,000 other people who liked the same music as me – it was like going on a pilgrimage. And that was that – I was hooked.
Going to Isle of Wight Festival was like going on a pilgrimage – I was hooked
When I was around 15, I knew that I wanted to work in music and organise events. I even wrote business plans about my future virtual company. After my apprenticeship, I looked around for job options, but at that time there were very few in the Swiss market and I couldn’t find a way in. I never lost that focus, but I had to work in several other jobs, including as a bookkeeper in real estate in 1992. Hell!
Out of the blue, a former work colleague called me to tell me that she was working for OpenAir St. Gallen, as the assistant for the festival director but was going to leave. As I was so persistent in telling her about my vision, she suggested I put myself forward for the job interview. This was my chance!
I went to the interview and tried to convince them that there was only one person who would be perfect to do the job. They asked me for some time as they had other candidates, but due to a timeline in my other job, I needed a quick answer. They had me complete some tests and I convinced them that I would do everything to make my dream come true. And they finally offered me the job.
I remember as I drove home that I looked at other people and felt so lucky to have achieved my dream.
I started in 1993, was able to take over the event company a few years later and work with wepromote Switzerland on a national level for many festivals and concerts.
In addition, for the past 20 years, I have been part of the European festival family of Yourope where I’ve made so many close friends.
Thank you, Lisa and Andreas, for having given me this opportunity.
I remember as I drove home that I looked at other people and felt so lucky to have achieved my dream
Fruzsina Szép, Lollapalooza Berlin
Since childhood I had always been very passionate and enthusiastic about arts and music and creating and organising things. Watching the happy faces during a festival is “my fuel“ and has kept me going for so many years in the industry, despite the gigantic workload many of us deal with day to day.
In 2008, I was offered the position of programme and artistic director for Sziget Festival in Budapest. I was 30 and I thought ‘Oh my God!’ – this coat is really not my size. My size is S/M and that coat felt XXL.
But I listened to my inner voice. I knew that if I didn’t try, I would never know if I was capable. I can always fail, I told myself, but only after trying.
I’m so extremely happy that I was wise enough to listen to my inner voice, to have the support of my family, and to believe in myself.
If Elon Musk asked me to organise the first festival on Mars, I’d be up for the job
I’m so thankful for having gained such an enormous amount of experience in those seven years working at Sziget. Without which, I could have never taken the next huge challenge and worn the even bigger coat known as Lollapalooza Berlin.
Moving the Lolla festival site four years in a row allowed me to learn so much and overcome so many challenges. I must say that I’m very thankful for these experiences because now, if Elon Musk asked me to organise the first festival on Mars, I’d be up for the job.
I’m so grateful to have been able to work in such an amazing industry, to have colleagues from whom I can learn day by day, and to be part of an international festival family with like-minded humans that are rocking their own festivals every summer.
IFF 2019 gets under way
The fifth International Festival Forum (IFF) kicked off today, Tuesday 24 September, with a day of speed meetings between agent and festival delegates.
IFF, an invitation-only event for festival bookers and booking agents, is taking place at venues around Camden, North London, from 24 to 26 September.
This year’s sold-out edition has doubled the amount of networking space around the main venue, Dingwalls, and introduced pop-up agency offices within, or close by, the conference.
United Talent Agency (UTA), one of IFF’s agency partners, is hosting the opening party tonight at the Camden Assembly, allowing delegates to begin their conference in style, with an evening of canapes and cocktails.
IFF, an invitation-only event for festival bookers and booking agents, is taking place at venues around Camden, North London, from 24 to 26 September
Other showcase highlights over the next few days include Brighton buzz band Squid (ATC Live) London-based six-piece Sports Team (Primary Talent); guitar trailblazers Life (ITB); alt-rockers Happyness (Pitch & Smith); 21-year old Hull native and hotly tipped new talent Charlotte (Paradigm); and Niklas Paschburg (Toutpartout).
X-ray Touring’s showcase offering, meanwhile, includes multi-platinum-selling band the Darkness.
Conference sessions begin tomorrow, with topics including festival billing, consolidation, competition from new market entrants, gender splits on line-ups, and niche events appearing on the bill. This year’s IFF Keynote interview is Rock Werchter founder and Live Nation Belgium head Herman Schueremans.
To wrap up IFF’s fifth anniversary event on Thursday evening, a joint birthday party will be held with European metal festival behemoth Wacken Open Air (30 this year) and Japan’s Summer Sonic’s (20 this year).
Full event information can be found at www.iff.rocks.