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$375m Moody Center opens in Austin, Texas

New multi-purpose 15,000-seat arena the Moody Center has opened in downtown Austin, Texas.

Developers of the US$375 million project, which replaces the city’s 42-year-old Frank C. Erwin Jr Center, include Oak View Group, Live Nation/C3 Presents, The University of Texas at Austin, and Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey.

It has been named in honour of a $130m grant from Texas-based charitable organisation the Moody Foundation, and promises to provide a “world-class venue for top touring concerts and shows” in the self-styled live music capital of the world, which hosts the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festival.

The arena, which will also host basketball and other sporting events, debuted to the public last night (20 April), with the first of two concerts by John Mayer and officially launched with two sold-out gigs by George Strait with special guests Willie Nelson & Family and Randy Rogers Band from April 29-30.

“The Moody Center will be a must-play arena and we look forward to bringing our concerts and tours there”

Speaking in 2019, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said: “The Moody Center will be a must-play arena and we look forward to bringing our concerts and tours there as soon as the doors open in 2022.”

Other artists scheduled for Moody Center in 2022 include Bon Jovi, Justin Bieber, The Who, Dave Matthews Band, Eagles, Machine Gun Kelly, Andrea Bocelli, Florence + The Machine, James Taylor, Leon Bridges, Shawn Mendes and Daddy Yankee.

Jeff Nickler, who was previously SVP of Arena Alliance, a collection of 29 NBA and NHL venues in North America, will serve as the arena’s general manager. Facilities include 44 Suites, nearly 2,000 club seats, three premium clubs, 57 loge boxes and one super VIP club, the Moët & Chandon Impérial Lounge.

 


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Taskforce publishes Astroworld tragedy report

A US taskforce has made a series of recommendations on how to improve concert safety in response to last year’s Astroworld Festival tragedy.

Ten concertgoers were killed and more than 300 were injured after a crowd surge during co-founder Travis Scott’s headline set in Houston, Texas on 5 November. The 50,000-cap festival at NRG Park was promoted by Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary.

The Texas Task Force On Concert Safety (TFCS) was announced by Texas governor Greg Abbott in the days following the disaster.  Led by Texas Music Office Director Brendon Anthony, the group comprised safety experts, law enforcement, firefighters, state agencies and music industry leaders, who held several meetings and one-on-one discussions to develop ways to enhance security at live music events in the state.

“The recommendations in this report are narrowly tailored to address gaps that were identified as contributing to safety failures at the Astroworld event,” states its newly published conclusions. “The TFCS also proactively used this process to enhance the state’s standard of safety practices for mass gatherings of all types.

“While some level of risk is inherent in any mass gathering, it is the opinion of the TFCS that proper planning will allow Texans to enjoy safe performances, concerts, and other culturally significant events.”

“The recommendations, findings and solutions detailed in this report will help the state of Texas prevent another tragedy like that at Astroworld Festival from happening again”

One of its key proposals is for the creation of a centralised Event Production Guide – outlining and encouraging best-practice for event design and crowd control – which could serve as a one-stop shop for promoters to access existing legal requirements. The guide would include a list of robust training resources for promoters, staff, and first responders for site walkthrough drills, security briefings, communication trees, and show-stop triggers and responses.

“I thank the Texas Task Force on Concert Safety for their commitment to safety and security for all concertgoers and for their collaboration with stakeholders on this critical report,” says governor Abbott. “The recommendations, findings and solutions detailed in this report will help the state of Texas prevent another tragedy like that at Astroworld Festival from happening again.”

The task force supports a requirement that promoters determine which emergency service would respond to a 911 call on the site of their event, and recommends that local authorities stop the show when it is determined that an event has been organised without a permit or has breached the bounds of the issued permit.

“The recommendations in this report are narrowly tailored to address gaps that were identified as contributing to safety failures at the Astroworld event”

It has also called for a Concert Attendee Code of Conduct as part of the ticketing process, which makes clear what behaviours will lead to ejection, and recommends that venues communicate with other venue representatives that have previously hosted the artist.

It adds that promoters should partner with artists to encourage safety, since messaging from the artist can be “uniquely persuasive” for fans.

 


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1 killed, 11 injured at outdoor concert in Dallas

One person was killed and 11 others were injured during a shooting at an outdoor concert in Dallas, north Texas, at the weekend.

In the early hours of Sunday (3 April), officers responded to a field in southeast Oak Cliff where the Second Annual Epic Easter Bike Out & Field Party was being held.

Police said a preliminary investigation found that during the concert, one person fired a gun into the air, then another unknown individual fired a gun in the crowd’s direction, according to AP News.

Near the concert stage, police found 26-year-old TikTok creator Kealon Dejuane Gilmore lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head. Gilmore died at the scene.

Near the concert stage, police found 26-year-old Kealon Dejuane Gilmore lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head

Police say that 11 other individuals were shot during the concert, all of whom were taken to hospitals either by ambulance or by private vehicles.

One person was in critical condition and the others were in stable condition. Three of the people hurt are juveniles, police said.  As of Sunday afternoon, no one has been arrested.

The event, reportedly attended by around 2,000 people, would have been headlined by Memphis-based rapper Big Boogie, who did not end up performing.

The event included live performances, an Easter egg hunt and a trail ride. ATVs or horses were welcome at the event.

Organisers had advertised that Dallas officers would be on-site to provide security, a claim that the Dallas Police Department is now looking into.

Sunday morning’s shooting happened two weeks after 10 people were shot on 19 March during a spring break party at a Dallas event venue.

 


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Hundreds of Astroworld lawsuits to be consolidated

Hundreds of Astroworld lawsuits are being formally consolidated into a single case following a court ruling.

Ten people, aged between nine and 27, died and hundreds of others were injured following the crowd crush during Travis Scott’s headline set at the festival at Houston’s NRG Park on 5 November 2021.

Lawsuits were filed against Scott and promoters Live Nation and Scoremore, along with other parties, in each of the 24 district courts in Harris County. Nearly every claim alleges negligence such as “failures of safety and security rules, crowd control and emergency response measures, and failures to provide adequate security, supervision, training and care”.

The Texas Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation has now ruled that 387 suits, representing almost 2,800 alleged victims, can move forward as one case.

“The agreed motion alleges the lawsuits arise out of incidents leading up to, during and following a live performance by Travis Scott during the Astroworld Festival outside NRG Park on November 5, 2021,” states the court papers. “We conclude that the cases arising out of the incident are related, and we find that transfer of those case would result in more efficient pre-trial of the related cases.”

“Houston Police Department continues to lead the investigation”

Billboard reports the move towards a single case was agreed upon by both sides. Scott previously requested to be dismissed from multiple lawsuits relating to the disaster, with a representative saying the rapper “is not legally liable” for the tragedy.

Live Nation, Scoremore and NRG Park owner Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation also deny all allegations against them, but have not asked for their dismissal.

Criminal investigations are still ongoing. Last month, Houston police appealed for Astroworld attendees to submit any photos or videos taken at the event.

“Houston Police Department have already viewed countless hours of video evidence as part of our ongoing investigation into the Astroworld event,” it tweeted. “To ensure that we have captured all possible evidence for a complete investigation, we have partnered with the Federal Bureau Of Investigation for additional technical assistance. The FBI has created a website where the public can upload any photos or video taken at the concert venue. Specifically, we are seeking any photos or videos of the main venue area from 8pm to 11pm. The website to upload your photos or video is fbi.gov/astroworld.

“HPD continues to lead the investigation and we appreciate the assistance from our federal partners at the FBI.”

 


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Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival to expand for 2021

Grammy award-nominated rapper Travis Scott has announced that his Astroworld Festival will return this year with an expanded format due to ‘overwhelming demand’.

The third edition of Astroworld Festival will take place on 5 and 6 November at NRG Park in Scott’s hometown, Houston, Texas, with a line-up curated by the artist himself.

Scott has revealed that he will be headlining Astroworld Festival 2021, which will adopt the theme ‘Open Your Eyes To A Whole New Universe’, while the full line-up will be announced closer to the time.

The previous two events have sold out before line-ups were revealed.

In 2019 the festival became the largest single-day artist-curated music festival in the country

According to Live Nation, in November 2019, the festival became the largest single-day artist-curated music festival in the country, as well as the largest music festival in Houston as the sold-out event played host to over 50,000 fans.

The festival, which celebrates hip-hop, pop music, has hosted the likes of Post Malone, Rosalia, Pharrell Williams, Da Baby, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, Playboi Carti and Megan Thee Stallion.

Two-day GA passes will be available for purchase beginning next 5 May at 10 am CT on AstroworldFest.com.

A portion of proceeds from Astroworld Festival 2021 will be donated to the festival’s official charity partner, Cactus Jack Foundation, founded by Scott.

The expansion of the festival follows Astronomical, Scott’s record-breaking in-game concert event which took place in Fortnite in April 2020 and attracted more than 12 million players.

 


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Two killed in Texas music venue shooting

Two people were killed and at least five injured in a shooting during a concert at the Ventura in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday night (19 January).

Police were called to the music venue at 8 p.m. last night, after a gunman opened fire inside the club. According to San Antonio police chief William McManus, the shooting occurred after an argument broke out in bar.

The concert, dubbed ‘Living the Dream’, featured multiple emerging acts and local musicians including Jonathan Tyler, Hoax and MikeNo$leep.

The shooting prompted a mixed reaction on the venue’s Facebook page, with some users defending the bar as “an excellent spot for up-and-coming musicians” and stating that similar issues had never occurred before. Others criticised the venue for a perceived lack of security enforcement.

A police search for the gunman is ongoing.

 


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OVG breaks ground on new Moody Center arena

Oak View Group has broken ground on the Moody Center, a new multi-purpose 15,000-seat arena at the University of Texas in Austin.

The US$338 million venue will replace the university’s existing arena, the 42-year-old Frank C. Erwin Jr Center. In addition to hosting local sporting fixtures and university events, Moody Center will provide a “world-class venue for top touring concerts and shows” in the self-proclaimed live music capital of the world.

The start of construction on Moody Center comes amid a building boom for Oak View Group (OVG), the venue development, advisory and investment company founded in 2015 by former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff. Other in-development projects include arenas in Seattle, Washington; Belmont, New York; Palm Springs, California; Milan, Italy; and Manchester, UK.

Live Nation Entertainment will work with its local subsidiary, C3 Presents, to bring top tours and live events to Moody Center. Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino says: “The Moody Center will be a must-play arena and we look forward to bringing our concerts and tours there as soon as the doors open in 2022.”

“The Moody Center will be a must-play arena”

“Being a fourth-generation Austinite, I grew up in the Frank Erwin Center and have hundreds of memories with my family and friends, adds Charles Attal, Partner, C3 Presents. “It is an honour to work on this new world-class event centre for the next generation to enjoy.”

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, a University of Texas (UT) professor, becomes ‘minister of culture’ of the Moody Center, and will provide input on suite designs, bar placement, colour schemes and more.

“As a proud alumnus and professor at UT, I’m honoured, now as minister of culture, to convey what a special place the university and the city of Austin are through the design and hospitality of the new Moody Center. It should be the first place the biggest bands in the world want to play, but the last place a visiting basketball team wants to play.”

 


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The New Bosses 2019: Sophie Lobl, C3 Presents

The New Bosses 2019 – the biggest-ever edition of IQ‘s yearly roundup of future live industry leaders, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 85 last month revealing the twelve promising agents, promoters, bookers and execs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2019’s New Bosses, to discover their greatest inspirations and proudest achievements, pinpoint the reasons for their success and obtain advice for those hoping to be a future New Boss. Snippets of the interviews can be found in the September edition of IQ Magazine.

All interviews have now been reproduced in full online and on IQ Index, but this is not the last you will hear from these promising young execs. The New Bosses will play a key role in the forthcoming edition of Futures Forum, the discussion and networking event for the next generation of industry leaders that debuted at ILMC 31 in March. 

The final new boss is Sophie Lobl (28), global festival buyer at C3 Presents in Texas. Born in London, Lobl made her way to the United States after graduating from Leeds University in the UK. Starting her career at BBC Radio 1, she later went to WME, where she worked her way up from a receptionist to assisting Russell Warby, Ari Emanuel and, finally, Marc Geiger in the LA office.

In 2019, Lobl relocated to Texas to work for C3 in the newly created role of global festival buyer, where she works closely with the European Live Nation team on artist offers for 197 festivals worldwide. (Read the previous interview with United Talent Agency’s Sara Schoch here).

 


What are you busy with right now?
Booking festivals for 2020. We are in the middle of booking all the line ups for next year and about to announce the Austin City Limits schedule!

Did you always want to work in the music business?
Pretty much. I actually initially wanted to work in radio. I produced and presented a couple of shows on my student radio station in Leeds which led me into working as an assistant producer at Radio 1 and 1Xtra – I thought I was going to be Annie Mac! Then I discovered live and booking shows and there was no turning back after that.

What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
Working on Tom Petty’s last tour is one of the greatest memories I’ll ever have. He was a lovely man. Launching Lollapalooza Stockholm is also a true career highlight. We’re very excited for 2020, it looks like we’ll have a great line up.

“I discovered live and booking shows and there was no turning back after that”

How has your role changed since you started out?
It’s changed drastically. I went from working on reception and making coffee, to being (several) agents’ assistants, to now booking and managing my own multi-stage festivals. None of it was planned, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. C3 is an awesome company and I am incredibly excited about the projects I get to work on and also about some of the new projects we have in the pipeline.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt while at C3?
That’s a big question. I think never being afraid of trying something new is the main one. Launching a festival is terrifying and working in markets that are new to us can be daunting. Luckily, we have incredible partners on our international festivals that save us from losing our jobs.

What, if anything, would you change about how the live industry is run today?
I think just more inclusiveness generally across the board. It really is getting better and there are now far more opportunities for women and other minorities. But that shouldn’t even really be a thing, should it? C3 actually has a majority of women employees, especially in senior management positions. I think other companies are following suit.

“Never being afraid of trying something new is important – launching a festival is terrifying and working in markets that are new to us can be daunting”

What do you do for fun?
Hang out with my French Bulldog. His name is Francis. You should follow him on Instagram (@francislefrenchie).

Do you have an industry mentor?
[Live Nation vice president fo European Touring] Kelly Chappell has been my mentor, saviour and sister since the beginning of time. She really is the best. I don’t know anyone that works harder or that has such an incredible attention to detail as she has. She is so knowledgeable and wise and deserves all the recognition I can give her.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into, or is new to, the business?
Work your bum off. None of this is easy and, although it may look glamorous, it really isn’t sometimes. But the hard work pays off and it really is worth it.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Sitting at home with ten french bulldogs? Probably doing exactly what I’m doing now. Maybe just a little better. C3 & S doesn’t really have a ring to it, does it?

 


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Khalid headlines concert for El Paso victims

Texan singer Khalid is headlining a Live Nation-promoted benefit concert in aid of the victims of the mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, on 3 August 2019.

Special guests will also perform at the concert in the Don Haskins Centre (12,567-cap.) in El Paso, Texas on 1 September. Proceeds from the event will support the El Paso Shooting Victims’ Fund and the El Paso Community Foundation.

“I have been rocked to the core by the horrific act of gun violence that came to El Paso, and by the continued acts of senseless violence that our country faces daily,” says Khalid.

“I want to give back to my community of El Paso, who ha[ve] given so much to me. Let’s heal together through music while raising money to help those who need it.”

“I have been rocked to the core by the horrific act of gun violence that came to El Paso”

Music industry columnist Bob Lefsetz has also been discussing ideas for staging benefit concerts for gun control in the United States. At least 62 people have been killed in mass shootings in the US this year alone.

Tickets for the Khalid concert will go on sale on Wednesday 14 August at 10 a.m. local time (MT), available via the Live Nation website.

In addition to attending the concert, donations for the cause can be made directly through the Great Khalid Foundation or by purchasing one of the commemorative shirts here.

The event will also be presented by the Right Hand Foundation, founded by Khalid’s manager Courtney Stewart.

 


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Live Nation’s C3 brings Piknic Électronik to Texas

Canadian-born electronic music festival Piknic Électronik will make its stateside debut next month in partnership with C3 Presents.

Described as a “unique two-day picnic in the park with electronic live music, local food and drink, family-friendly activities and immersive, social experiences”, the inaugural Piknic Électronik Austin will be held in Austin, Texas, park Auditorium Shores on 27–28 October.

Music will be an “eclectic mix of techno, house and disco, showcasing 12 national and local artists on two stages”, with a full line-up to be announced in the coming weeks. Day tickets are priced at US$15 from Front Gate Tickets.

“Austin is the perfect city for our first ever Piknic Électronik on American soil”

Originating in Montreal in 2003, Piknic Électronik events have also been held in Barcelona, Lisbon, Melbourne, Santiago (Chile) and Dubai. The flagship event is a summer-long series which last year ran from 21 May to 24 September, with Seth Troxler, the Black Madonna, Nicole Moudaber and Vincent Lemieux among the DJs performing.

“Austin is the perfect city for our first ever Piknic Électronik on American soil,” says CEO and founder Pascal Lefebvre. “With its world-renowned vibrant cultural scene and its reputation as a particularly festive and inviting city, it is a perfect fit for our brand and C3, a particularly great partner to build it with.”

Live Nation also organises the Austin City Limits festival in Austin, and recently acquired a majority stake Austin-based promoter ScoreMore shows, which owns and operates three festivals of its own.

 


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