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Catalonia welcomes back three major festivals

Catalonia has hosted a triple whammy of festivals in the past fortnight, which will help determine the blueprint for how major events could take place in Spain going forward.

Cruïlla, Vida and Canet Rock took inspiration from 27 March’s Love of Lesbian test concert at the Palau Sant Jordi arena which they helped to organise, along with Primavera Sound (which organised the Primacov test), Sónar and Festival de Jazz de Barcelona.

In line with the recommendations from the test concert, all three festivals took place without social distancing and with attendees wearing mandatory FFP2 masks. Entry to the festivals was dependent on a negative result from a Covid-19 rapid test.

The festivals worked with the same medical partners behind the Love of Lesbian concert – the Germans Trias Hospital and Fight Aids and Infectious Diseases Foundation – and gained the approval of Catalonia’s Ministries of Health, Culture and Home Affairs.

Vida festival kicked off the week’s festivities with a three-day event in Vilanova de la Geltrú between 1–3 July that attracted a total of 27,200 attendees.

Typically, 30–40% of Vida’s line-up is international artists but this year the festival opted for an entirely domestic bill, with headline performances from Vetusta Morla, Nathy Peluso and Love of Lesbian.

“I believe that Barcelona is once again the centre of the world in terms of organising events and live music”

Catalonia’s festival frenzy continued with Canet Rock on 3 July, held from 6 pm to nearly 6 am, with an audience of 22,200 people.

The Canet de Mar-based festival also opted for a domestic-only line-up, featuring Doctor Prats, Oques Grasses, and Itaca Band.

Cruïlla rounded off the week with more than 50,000 attendees at the Parc del Fórum (also home to Primavera Barcelona).

The three-dayer took place between 8–10 July and was the only festival that opted for an international bill which including the Irish indie band Two Door Cinema Club.

“We have the feeling of total success, we can feel proud and happy, and we can get our chest out. I believe that Barcelona is once again the centre of the world in terms of organising events and live music,” says Jordi Herreula, Cruïlla.

“[Rapid Covid-19 screening] could become a solution that can be extended to the rest of society, however, the model is subject to improvements that we will outline in collaboration with the scientific community.”

 


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Sónar announces Portuguese debut for 2022

Sónar has announced the launch of a brand new festival in Lisbon next year, marking the iconic brand’s Portuguese debut.

Sónar Lisboa 2022 will take place between 8–10 April next year and, in line with the brand’s flagship festival in Barcelona and its international offshoots, will celebrate “forward-thinking electronic music, creativity and technology”.

Like its other global counterparts, Sónar Lisboa will be split into Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night programming, held in several venues across the capital city including Parque Docas de Santos, Creative Hub Beato, Lisbon Congress Centre and more.

Sónar Lisboa 2022 will be held in several venues including Parque Docas de Santos, Creative Hub Beato and Lisbon Congress Centre

The lineup is yet to be announced but first-release tickets are on sale now, starting from £103.

The brand’s marquee festival Sónar Barcelona, which is majority-owned by Superstruct parent Providence Equity Partners, was called off earlier this year.

In lieu of the flagship festival, the brand has announced two new in-person festivals for Barcelona in autumn 2021, the AI and Music Festival and SónarCCCB.

The festival brand also has offshoots in Bogota, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Reykjavik and Istanbul.

 


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More major Spanish festivals pull the plug on 2021

Spain’s 2021 festival season has diminished once again with fresh cancellations from major festivals Mad Cool and Bilbao BBK Live.

Other marquee Spanish festivals including Primavera Sound and Sónar Barcelona were previously called off, while Arenal Sound, Festival Internacional de Benicàssim and Cruïlla are still forging ahead with this year’s events.

Live Nation-promoted Mad Cool (cap. 60,000) was set to take place between 7–10 July 2021 in Madrid but this morning (20 May), the organisers confirmed that this year’s event is cancelled due to the “current force majeure circumstances” of the pandemic.

“It has been a very painful decision to come to, as our desire (and probably yours) was to find ourselves all together again at Mad Cool in 2021,” they said in a statement.

“However, we would like to let you know we think this is the appropriate, sensible and right decision to make. Health is more important than anything.”

“[Mad Cool] would like to let you know we think this is the appropriate, sensible and right decision to make”

The fifth edition of Mad Cool will take place in 2022 from July 6–9. All purchased tickets for Mad Cool 2021 will be valid for the 2022 edition of the festival, while refunds and ticket changes will be available between 7–21 July.

A line-up announcement for 2022 is expected to be made before 7 July, with the organisers noting that “we are keeping as many artists as we can from 2021 and also adding some new ones so we can have the best line-up ever”.

The likes of The Killers, Haim and Cardi B had all been set to play at the 2021 edition of the event.

The cancellation of Mad Cool follows that of Bilbao BBK Live, which was called off on Tuesday (18 May) due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

The 15th anniversary of the Spanish event was due to take place between 8–10 July 2021, with the likes of The Killers, Pet Shop Boys, Supergrass and FKA Twigs.

“We appreciate [fans’] patience, and we share the same frustration for missing out on the festival yet again”

“First and foremost, a big thank you to all of you for your patience and resilience during these tough times,” a statement read.

“We feel your support now more than ever. As you can imagine, Bilbao BBK Live will not be held as originally planned nor on the scheduled date. We will have to wait a bit longer as the highly anticipated reunion is postponed to 2022.”

The post continues: “We appreciate your patience, and we share the same frustration for missing out on the festival yet again. All we can think about is how incredible the reunion is going to be after this long wait, and we guarantee it will be worth it.

We will return even more eager to celebrate and enjoy live music. See you next year!”

The line-up for Bilbao 2022 will arrive by 8 July.

 


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Sónar pulls 2021 flagship festival, plans new events

Barcelona’s Sónar festival, scheduled to take place this June, has been called off for the second consecutive year due to force majeure.

“The case numbers, mobility restrictions, and the lack of applicable legislation for the organisation of large events have made the celebration of the festival in the conditions required unviable,” reads a statement from the organisers.

The festival, which is majority-owned by Superstruct parent Providence Equity Partners, is one of Barcelona’s three major international music festivals, along with Cruïlla (still scheduled to go ahead this year) and Primavera (set to return in 2022).

In lieu of Sónar’s flagship festival, the organisers are planning two new in-person festivals for Barcelona in autumn 2021.

One of the two new festivals is AI and Music Festival, which will be organised by Sónar alongside the Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya (UPC), béteve and the European Commission as part of the S+T+ARTS initiative.

“The case numbers, mobility restrictions, and lack of applicable legislation for large events make [Sónar 2021] unviable”

The festival, slated to take place in Barcelona on 27 and 28 October, will focus on the ‘application of and challenges surrounding the use of Artificial Intelligence in musical creation’.

Sónar’s second 2021 festival is SónarCCCB (Barcelona Center for Contemporary Culture), which takes place on 29 and 30 October and will include live performances, debates and demonstrations as part of the Sónar+D conference.

Both festivals will be in-person events but Sónar is also expanding its online content under the tag #ThisIsSonar, which will be produced in collaboration with local and international partners.

Sónar’s new events will feature over 60 activities and will be ‘presented in hybrid format, mainly live and in-situ, but with an important digital and online component’.

Within this frame, Sónar Istanbul will also celebrate its 5th edition on 2 October.

 


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First post-lockdown concerts take place in Spain

The first post-lockdown live music events are taking place in Spain this week, as the country embarks on phase two of its lockdown easing plan.

As of 25 May, outdoor events of up to 400 people and indoor concerts with a maximum capacity of 50 people have been allowed to resume in Spain.

Although the reopening measures have been criticised by members of the Spanish live industry for being unclear and unrealistic, a number of event organisers have taken the opportunity to restart business.

This week, five concerts are taking place in the northern region of Cantabria as part of the local government’s ‘Culture Counterattack’ campaign. Performances by acts Rulo, Vicky Castelo, Billy Boom Band, Deva and Repion will take place this weekend (29 to 30 May) in the cities of Santander, Torrelavega and Muriedas.

“These five Cantabrian artists will connect with their fans again, to a lesser extent than we would like, but with as many as is possible right now,” says Pablo Zuloaga, vice president of Cantabria, who announced the campaign last week.

Elsewhere in Spain, organisers of Barcelona’s Festival Cruïlla, who, along with promoters of major Spanish events including Primavera Sound, Mad Cool, Bilbao BBK Live and Sónar, recently called off their 2020 festival, have announced Cruïlla XXS, a series of over 200 open-air events taking place throughout the city in July.

“This is a way of putting the message out there that, little by little, things are getting better”

Priced between €15 and €45, each event – which range from concerts, talks and conference sessions to urban art and circus performances – will be seated and have a maximum capacity of 400. The events will be hosted in venues including open-air architectural museum the Poble Espanyol, the Design Museum of Barcelona, the Anella Olímpica (Olympic Ring) and the gardens of the Catalan national theatre.

“This is a way of putting the message out there that, little by little, things are getting better,” comments Cruïlla XXS programmer Jordi Herreruela. “This will have a positive impact on the collective state of mind.”

Cruïlla XXS organisers are working with the Barcelona Institute for Global Health to ensure adequate safety measures are in place. “If we want to go back to putting on events with several thousand people, we will have to show we are capable of doing so,” says Herreruela.

Two Door Cinema Club, Kase.O, Residente and Of Monsters and Men are among acts confirmed for Festival Cruïlla 2021.

Spain is due to enter it final stage of lockdown easing on 8 June, which allows outdoor events of up to 800 people and indoor concerts with a capacity limit of 80, as well as the reopening of night clubs and bars at a third of usual capacity.

Photo: Roger Canals/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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Artists perform online in solidarity with Primavera Sound

Artists including Rosalía, Interpol, Belle & Sebastian, Jarvis Cocker and Billy Bragg have taken part in a video to show appreciation for all the promoters, fans and musicians affected by the Covid-19 crisis, in conjunction with Primavera Sound.

Organisers of the Barcelona festival, which was called off earlier this week, despite having rescheduled from June to August, reached out to over one hundred artists asking for video clips of home performances.

The resulting video can be found on the festival’s social media pages and using the hashtags #cantdowithout you and #ps21.

“Thanks for believing in us. In 2021 we will dance together again”

“Thanks for believing in us. In 2021 we will dance together again,” reads a post on the Primavera Sound Facebook page.

Primavera Sound is among Spanish festivals including Sónar and Bilbao BBK Live to call time on 2020.

Despite announcing its lockdown exit plan, the Spanish government has yet to detail when large-scale events such as festivals may take place again, preventing cancellation due to force majeure and leading to criticism from much of the country’s live music industry.


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European giants Mad Cool, Rock en Seine move to 2021

Spain’s Mad Cool and France’s Rock en Seine are the latest high-profile calamities of the 2020 festival season, as organisers call off their events this summer due to the continuing coronavirus crisis.

The cancellation of Live Nation-promoted Mad Cool (60,000-cap.), which was due to take place from 8 to 11 July with acts including Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and the Killers, follows that of fellow Spanish festivals Sónar on Friday (8 May) and Primavera Sound on Monday (11 May).

“A few days ago we told you that the possibility of celebrating Mad Cool was very slight,” reads a statement from organisers. “Today, we have to tell you, with the utmost sincerity, that the festival will not take place on the scheduled dates.

“As the situation has evolved, we have worked on a number of alternatives. The most real and feasible option is to postpone the festival for the same dates in 2021.”

Organisers say they are waiting for the government to decree force majeure “so we can resolve things in the proper way”.

Despite announcing its lockdown exit plan, the Spanish government has yet to detail when large-scale events such as festivals may take place again, preventing cancellation due to force majeure and leading to criticism from much of the country’s live music industry.

“Today, we have to tell you, with the utmost sincerity, that the festival will not take place on the scheduled dates”

Rock en Seine (40,000-cap.), due to take place from 28 August to 1 September in Paris, was also called off last night, following the extension of the French government’s ban on large events until September.

The 2020 edition of the festival was set to feature Rage Against the Machine and Run the Jewels.

“Over the past sixteen years Rock en Seine has cemented itself as one of the biggest festivals in France,” reads a statement from organisers. “Unfortunately it has become clear that these three days cannot take place in the format we had planned due to the health measures currently in place because of the ongoing crisis.”

Organisers state they are working on “an imaginative, creative, strong and symbolic culture and music event for as soon as health rules permit”, in addition to hosting the festival in its usual format in 2021.

The French government recently established a ‘festival fund’ to assist events forced to cancel due to the coronavirus outbreak, as well as dedicating an additional €50 million in aid to the music sector.

Yesterday also saw the cancellations of Festival Republic’s Reading and Leeds festivals in the UK.

 


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Spanish fests at ‘clear disadvantage’ without gov action

The Spanish Association of Music Festivals (Asociación de Festivales de Música – FMA) has warned that the country “could become the first without festivals” if the government does not implement measures similar to those seen in neighbouring countries soon.

“If the adequate measures are not taken, our festivals will be at a clear disadvantage to other European festivals,” reads a statement from the FMA, which includes events including Primavera Sound, Bilbao BBK Live, Arenal Sound, Festival Internacional de Benicàssim (FIB) and Sónar.

The Spanish association states it is expecting “the mass suspension of festivals and music events for the 2020 summer season”, which will “jeopardise the rest of the year due to the unfeasibility of rescheduling every event”.

The FMA proposes measures similar to those put forward by Spanish music federation Esmúsica, in particular, the introduction of greater flexibility around the way consumers can be compensated for a cancelled or postponed event.

Ticketholders should be able to decide whether to hold on to tickets for rescheduled events or exchange them for those for another event or festival via a voucher.

“If the adequate measures are not taken, our festivals will be at a clear disadvantage to other European festivals”

If neither of these options are available, says the FMA, customers should be able to ask for a cash refund that will be delivered within 18 months of the cancellation date.

The association highlights measures put in place in other countries such as Germany, which has introduced a voucher system; the Netherlands, which is running a public campaign encouraging consumers to retain tickets for future events; Italy, which has made the refund process more flexible; and Portugal, where a voucher scheme is also in place.

Spanish festivals including Primavera Sound, Mallorca Live and Vina Rock have moved to later in the year, with organisers of Sónar (18 to 20 June), Mad Cool (8 to 11 July), Bilbao BBK (9 to 11 July), FIB (16 to 19 July) and Arenal Sound (28 July to 2 August) yet to make announcements on the fate of their 2020 editions.

“We are waiting for them to tell us when we will be able to return to activity,” Albert Salmerón, president of Spanish promoters’ association, APM, tells el Periódico. “Or at least until when we won’t be able to return to it. That would help us to plan.”

The Spanish government is meeting on 5 May to approve measures for the cultural industry.

 


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Primavera Sound moves to August

The 20th-anniversary Primavera Sound Barcelona will now take place from 26 to 30 August, as the festival shifts back three months to avoid disruption from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Both Primavera Sound music festival and Primavera Pro, the industry conference that runs alongside it, will take place at their original venue, Barcelona’s waterfront at the Parc del Fòrum.

The events typically takes place at the start of June – Primavera means ‘spring’ in Spanish – with organisers using the slogan: “Primavera in summer, for once in a lifetime”.

Primavera’s Portuguese sister event, Nos Primavera Sound Porto has also been postponed, moving from mid-June to 3 to 5 September.

Tickets already purchased for both festivals and the conference remain valid for the new dates.

Primavera Sound experienced record ticket sales following the release of its line-up this year, with over 10,000 fans snapping up tickets in 24 hours to see the likes of the Strokes, Massive Attack, Iggy Pop, Lana Del Rey, Kacey Musgraves, Tyler the Creator, Beck, Bikini Kill and Disclosure.

Organisers state they “will make every effort to ensure that this change affects the festival’s programme as little as possible.”

“Let’s all face this together. We will get through this together. And we will celebrate our 20th anniversary together”

Ticket sales will be reactivated once the country’s official state of emergency, declared on 14 March, is over.

“Let’s all face this together. We will get through this together. And we will celebrate our 20th anniversary together,” reads a statement from organisers.

Primavera is not the only Spanish festival to change dates due to coronavirus.

Mallorca Live has moved from mid-May to 8 to 10 October, with organisers stating that 80% of the line-up has so far been retained for the later date. The 25th edition of Viña Rock festival will also take place in October, moving from dates at the end of April.

Mad Cool festival director Javier Arnaiz confirmed his intention to continue with the 2020 festival to Spanish newspaper El País last week, saying “our aim is for the festival to go ahead on the original dates. We are positive despite the cirumstances. Suspension is not a part of our plans.” Spanish festivals including Sónar (18 to 20 June), Arenal Sound (28 July to 2 August), Bilbao BBK (9 to 11) and FIB are all currently going ahead as planned.

The approach differs from that seen in the UK in recent weeks, with the cancellation of the major events including Glastonbury Festival, Download, Isle of Wight, Parklife, Lovebox and All Points East.

 


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Spain’s APM launches new festival arm

Spain’s Association of Music Promoters (APM) is launching APM Festivals, a new division consisting of 80 festival from across Spain.

The association will present its new division today (22 January) at Madrid’s International Tourism Trade Fair (Fitur), which is taking place at exhibition centre Ifema, at 4 p.m. local time.

APM spokesperson Carol Rodriguez, who is responsible for the festival division, will announce the objectives and demands of the new division, and name the participating festivals.

The Spanish live music industry has gone from strength to strength in recent years, with APM recording five consecutive years of growth since 2014.

Major Spanish festivals include Primavera Sound, which reported record ticket sales for its 2020 edition; Live Nation’s Mad Cool festival; Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, which was last year acquired by the Music Republic, promoter of festivals Arenal Sound and Viña Rock; Bilbao BBK Live and Superstruct-backed Sónar Festival.

Photo: (CC BY 2.0)

 


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