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One dead, dozens hurt after roof collapse at US venue

A 50-year-old man was killed and dozens more injured after a storm caused a theatre roof to collapse in Illinois at a packed heavy metal gig on Friday (31 March) night.

Around 260 people were present at the Apollo Theater, Belvidere, for The United States of Terror tour, headlined by four heavy metal bands — Crypta, Revocation, Skeletal Remains and Morbid Angel.

After Crypta’s opening set, the venue made an announcement that the show would need to take a brief pause before Morbid Angel took the stage, due to the ongoing extreme weather conditions.

Minutes after the initial announcement, at 19:55 local time, the full roof collapsed on top of the concertgoers, according to the New York Times.

More than 40 people were hospitalised, with five people suffering severe injuries. At least one person died in the incident. Belvidere fire chief Shawn Schadle reported that two of those impacted are suffering from life-threatening injuries.

Authorities believe concertgoers weren’t aware of the storm and tornado sirens due to the volume of music at the venue

According to the National Weather Service, the Apollo suffered “possible tornado damage.” A storm with 75 mph winds had been sweeping through the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin region but authorities believe concertgoers weren’t aware of the storm and tornado sirens due to the volume of music at the venue.

“We would like to express our deepest and most sincerest heartfelt condolences to everyone in attendance at The Apollo Theater when a tornado ripped the roof from the venue and decimated downtown Belvidere,” reads a statement from the venue.

“Our hearts go out to the individuals, families and friends that were so tragically affected and sincerely thank everyone that so unselfishly stepped in to help those in need. We will continue to work with all local and national authorities to make sense of this travesty and ask that you keep everyone in your thoughts, prayers and well wishes.”

A series of deadly tornadoes ripped through parts of the southern and midwestern US in recent days, killing at least 32 people in total.

The states affected include Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Delaware and Alabama – many of which have declared a state of emergency.

Friday’s night of deadly tornadoes comes just one week after a rare, long-track twister killed 26 people in Mississippi.


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Storm Henri disrupts US concert comeback

We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert, the star-studded show held in New York’s Central Park on Saturday 21 August, became the biggest victim of Hurricane Henri, the tropical storm which battered New England and the north-eastern United States over the weekend.

The concert, first announced by the mayor of New York city, Bill de Blasio, in June, was put together by veteran label exec Clive Davis in association with Live Nation and was to have featured performances by Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Paul Simon, the Killers, Jennifer Hudson, Run DMC, Carlos Santana, LL Cool J, Andrea Bocelli and more. However, the 60,000-strong crowd were asked to leave Central Park early – at around 8pm, during Barry Manilow’s set, and before Springsteen, Simon and the Killers could take the stage – as the heavens opened and lightning filled the sky.

While most tickets for the show were given free to New York residents, VIP tickets were available, priced between US$399 and $5,000, according to AP.

De Blasio acknowledged that “while it’s disappointing that tonight’s concert had to end early”, the lightning meant that authorities had no choice but to end the show early: “the safety of everyone in attendance had to come first.”

Other events were also called off after the state of New York declared a state of emergency on Saturday morning ahead of Henri (now downgraded to a tropical storm) making landfall.

Eagles’ highly anticipated return to Madison Square Garden, part of the band’s Hotel California tour, on Sunday (22 August) was cancelled by the arena, as was a Jason Mraz show at Mohegan Sun Arena (10,000-cap.) in Uncasville, Connecticut, the same night.

Elsewhere in Connecticut, Kiss’s show at the 30,000-capacity Xfinity Theatre in Hartford will now take place tonight (23 August) after being postponed from Sunday due to the hurricane.

Sporting events such as the PGA Tour golf tournament, which is in New Jersey, also cancelled or postponed scheduled fixtures.


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Fuji Rock Festival celebrates 22 years with 125,000 fans

The 22nd Fuji Rock Festival closed last week, having welcomed some 125,000 festivalgoers to the Yabusa Ski Resort in Yuzawa Town, Niigata Prefecture over the course of the four day event.

In a statement on the Fuji Rock website, organisers thanked fans and staff and invited them again to next year’s festival, saying 2018’s event had been “successfully completed with great cooperation of everyone.”

This success was in spite of the adverse weather, brought on by Typhoon Jongdari, Japan’s 12th named storm of the year. Further on, the statement adds: “I would like to thank the customers who visited us during the bad weather due to the influence of typhoon 12 (Jongdari).”

The event had been “successfully completed with great cooperation of everyone”

In late July, the storm formed in the ocean south-east of Guam. For nearly two weeks, it battered much of southern Japan and eastern China, including the festival site of Fuji Rock. On Twitter there were reports of disruption caused by the adverse weather. One tweet spoke of tents collapsing in the high winds, while the festival warned guests some events were being postponed.

Fortunately for fans and organisers, the effects of the storm were not constant, providing some instances of relief throughout the weekend. The line-up featured a mix of old and new musical talent; Kendrick Lamar, Years & Years and Post Malone shared the stage over the weekend with the likes of Bob Dylan and Johnny Marr.

Dylan began his performance in a well-timed lapse in the bad weather. Reporting on the performance of Dylan and his band, Rolling Stone Japan labelled the headline set a “luxurious moment” and an “exquisite performance.”


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Florida venues open doors as Irma batters state

Sports and entertainment venues were used as shelter for Floridians seeking refuge from Hurricane Irma, which tore through the Caribbean and south-eastern United States over the weekend.

Irma, a category-five hurricane and the most intense observed in the Atlantic in more than a decade, forced the cancellation of shows, festivals and sports matches in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, and is believed to have left nearly 50 people dead, including 11 Americans.

In Florida, more than 6.5 million people were under mandatory evacuation orders, and many rode out the worst of the storm in shelters in Alico Arena (4,500-cap.) in Fort Myers and Germain Arena (concert cap. 8,500+) in Estero, with shelter staff assisted by National Guardsmen, sheriff’s deputies and motorway police. Both venues were reportedly at capacity by Saturday afternoon.

One person taking shelter in Germain Arena, Krystal Malpass, told the Fort Myers News-Press she didn’t know what to expect from the shelter but that staff had been “extremely nice”.

In Florida more than 6.5m people were under evacuation orders, and many rode out the storm in arenas

An estimated 800 people also sough refuge at the Sun Dome (10,411-cap.) arena at the University of South Florida in Tampa, while aseball team Detroit Tigers opened their clubhouses in Lakeland, Florida, to evacuees and emergency staff.

While the state’s arenas, including the 20,000-cap. American Airlines Arena in Miami, weathered the worst of the storm relatively unscathed, there have been reports of damage at several open-air venues.

Marlins Park, a 37,442-cap. stadium in Miami, reportedly suffered around 6% damage to its retractable roof, while the Hard Rock Stadium (65,326-cap.) in Miami Gardens is under inspection by structural engineers for potential damage.

At the time of writing, Irma had been downgraded to a tropical storm – although three million people are thought to have been left homeless in the US alone, with many more affected in the Caribbean and other Atlantic islands.


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15 injured after lightning strikes Le Vieux Canal

A French music festival was cancelled early on Saturday after at least 15 attendees were struck by lightning.

The sixth Festival Le Vieux Canal, in Azerailles in north-eastern France, was pulled by local authorities after several festivalgoers suffered severe burns in what the festival describes as a “very violent thunderstorm” on the afternoon of 2 September.

“We are disappointed not to have been able to offer you the spectacle that we had promised, but safety takes precedence over everything else,” says festival tech Guillaume Mellé in a statement. He adds that his thoughts are with those injured.

“Safety takes precedence over everything else”

All Saturday evening performances, which including slots by electro act Pony Pony Run Run and pop five-piece black Black Bones, were cancelled.

According to the BBC, the victims were hit directly by the lightning and include children, who were sheltering in a tent during the storm. A woman in her sixties and a 44-year-old man are believed to be in critical condition.

Several high-profile European festivals, including Germany’s Rock am Ring and Southside, were cancelled last summer after attendees were struck by lightning. Southside/Hurricane 2017 were also threatened by storms, although both went ahead largely as planned.


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Two dead, 120 injured after tent collapse at Austrian festival

Two people have lost their lives after a storm ripped through a community festival in Austria on Friday night.

A 28-year-old local and a 19-year-old Romanian student were fatally injured by falling scaffolding when a beer tent collapsed at Zeltfest in Frauschereck, St Johann am Walde, amid 78mph winds that also left much of Upper Austria without power.

A further 120 people were injured, 20 of them seriously, reports the Vienna Kurier.

A reported 700 people were in the marquee when the storm broke, of around 1,000 total festivalgoers. Zeltfest (“Tentfest”) is an annual festival in aid of volunteer firefighters.

A statement from Frauschereck Volunteer Fire Brigade says its “thoughts are with” those affected. Firefighters also thanked local residents for their offers to help clear the festival site, which was strewn with debris.

Public prosecutor Alois Ebner says his department will launch an investigation to discover whether “all requirements” were filled in the construction of the tent, and if organisers – the fire brigade – should have evacuated the event. Nikolas Zimmermann, of weather forecaster Ubimet, tells the Kurier the festival would have had at least two hours’ advance warning of the storm.


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China’s Storm touches down in Taiwan, Australia

China’s leading electronic dance music (EDM) festival, A2Live’s Storm, will for the first time this year include two international dates.

Making good on newly appointed MD Eric Reithler-Barros’s promise to prioritise “Asian expansion”, the promoter – a division of Shanghai-based Ato Ato Integrated Media – has announced it will make its “first foray outside China” with events in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, and Sydney, Australia.

Along with a new Ultra event, Storm Australia will be one of two new EDM festivals in Australia this year, filling the vacuum left by SFX’s late Stereosonic event.

The flagship Storm festival in Shanghai (35,000-cap.) has, since its founding in 2013, hosted several major international EDM DJs, including Avicii, Skrillex, Alesso, Hardwell and Tiësto. In addition to the Taiwanese and Australian events, Storm festivals will take place in nine Chinese cities in 2017 – up from five last year – with a special show at IMS Asia-Pacific in September.

“When Storm goes abroad for the first time … China will finally become more cemented in the world view as a real pillar of the electronic music community”

At a press conference in Shanghai last Thursday (11 May), A2Live also announced the launch of a new label, Storm Records, in partnership with Amsterdam-based Spinnin’ Records.

The company says an increase in Storm events will serve as a counterbalance to the growing influence of Western dance music in China. “Historically, the electronic dance music scene in China has drawn heavily from Western influences,” reads a statement. “With increasing numbers of international festivals taking aim at the enormous consumer market in China, the genre is getting more influences from outside its borders.

“When China-born titan Storm goes abroad for the first time, pushing its blend of international electronic music stars outside its home country, China will finally become more cemented in the world view as a real pillar of the electronic music community. Due to Storm’s rapid expansion, more music lovers worldwide will experience the magical energy that Storm produces and propagates.

“China will no longer only take cues from abroad but will also play a crucial role in innovating, setting the trends and shaping the global dance music scene.”


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A2Live targets ‘Asian dominance’ under new MD

Former SFX Entertainment exec Eric Reithler-Barros has been named managing director and chief commercial officer of Chinese EDM behemoth A2Live.

The Shanghai-based company, founded by Eric Zho, is best known for promoting China’s largest dance music festival, the 35,000-cap. Storm in Shanghai, as well as several spin-off events. It also organises individual headline shows, and includes brand partnerships, artist management (A2Artist), booking (Strobe Light Talent) and streaming music (DianYinTai) divisions, with a record label in the works.

Reithler-Barros (pictured) is charged with “driving Asian expansion” in his new role, heading up all of the above divisions and serving as a key player in A2Live’s bid to achieve “Asian ecosystem dominance”.

As vice-president of global partnerships at SFX, Reithler-Barros was instrumental in securing several major worldwide deals, including lucrative partnerships with Viagogo and Mastercard. (Both have since fallen apart amid much post-bankruptcy bickering.)

“It’s no secret that China represents the largest and most nascent market potential for dance music culture in the world”

“We are thrilled to welcome a double threat [who] has not only two decades of functional experience in media and international business development, but also nearly three decades inside the world of electronic dance music,” comments Zho. “His rare combination of talents and specialised knowledge will add tremendous velocity to expansion of our core businesses while developing innovative new products and services to complement them”.

Reithler-Barros adds: “It’s no secret that China represents the largest and most nascent market potential for dance music culture in the world. Nothing could be more exciting than to engage it from multiple new angles, hand in hand with the talented staff and board of this visionary company.”

Jerry Gold, Reithler-Barros’s erstwhile colleague at SFX, last week joined live music streaming company LiveXLive.


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W:O:A transforms fest site after stormy summer

After a stormy German festival season which claimed the scalps of Rock am Ring, Hurricane and Southside, Wacken Open Air (W:O:A) has embarked on an ambitious overhaul of its festival site for 2017.

As can be seen in the video above (and continued in parts two and three), the ICS-promoted rock and metal festival, which has taken place in the village of Wacken, in Sleswick-Holstein in northern Germany, since 1990, has dug a new drainage system, planted hardier mustard and clover grass – “experience has shown us that normal grass can’t handle the burden of a festival day”, says W:O:A – and installed a dedicated beer pipeline to avoid the problem of heavy lorries driving onto the festival site.

Explaining the need for better drainage, the festival says: “Due to ongoing burdens in the last few years, the [festival site] was deformed in many places and there was no chance for long-lasting greensward. The water couldn’t run out, and we even had some small lakes after heavy rainfalls.”

“The site was deformed in many places and … the water couldn’t run out”

The new system has a series of “subsurface water caches that can take surface water from the whole area”, and, if the rain proves too much still, the water can be diverted to the Kiel canal on the Baltic sea.

In addition to the new grass, crushed stones have been placed in several foot traffic-heavy areas, with “more measures, big and small” promised before spring 2017.

Wacken managed to avoid the worst of 2016’s rain, although the previous summer saw widespread flooding after 25l/m² worth of rain (main picture).

W:O:A 2017 will take place from 3 to 5 August. Acts already confirmed include Napalm Death, Lacuna Coil, Kreator and Turnonegro.


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MLK offers refunds for Rock am Ring 2016

Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur (MLK) is to provide a partial refund to Rock am Ring ticketholders after severe storms forced the cancellation of the final day of the festival.

Over 70 people were struck by lightning as inclement weather battered the festival site in Mendig, Germany, in the first weekend in June. Law firm Dittmann & Hartmann, representing 21 festivalgoers, announced shortly after it was seeking “50 per cent of the ticket price” as a refund; promoter MLK has offered a slightly lower 40%.

Christian Gollner, legal secretary of consumer rights group Verbraucherzentrale Rheinland-Pfalz, says the offer seems a “fair price”. “We are pleased that the organiser has now reacted and has established a clear procedure for the refund,” comments Gollner. “We hope now that there will be no delays or disputes in the repayment.”

Rock am Ring attendees who still have their original tickets should visit the festival’s website, where they can apply for a refund to CTS Eventim customer service.


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