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Josh Javor joins WME as London co-head

Agent Josh Javor has joined WME as partner and co-head of the London music department.

Javor spent 18 years at X-ray Touring, working closely with the late co-founder Steve Strange on the careers of Coldplay, Eminem, Queens of the Stone Age, Phoebe Bridgers, Snow Patrol and more.

His roster also includes The Charlatans, Jenny Lewis, Modest Mouse, Jimmy Eat World, Alice in Chains, Belle & Sebastian, Afghan Whigs, Beth Orton, Foy Vance, The Charlatans, Kodaline, The Hold Steady, Echo & the Bunnymen, Lightning Seeds, Bright Eyes, Maximo Park, Alkaline Trio, Seasick Steve, Boy Genius and Cigarettes After Sex.

“Josh has not only built a roster of artists that shape music, he’s also been an integral part of building the international touring industry as we know it today,” says Lucy Dickins, WME’s Global Head of Contemporary Music and Touring, who Javor will be reporting to. “With Josh coming on board, our London office is doubling down on being the leading team in the region and on the international stage.”

“With Josh coming on board, our London office is doubling down on being the leading team in the region and on the international stage”

Javor, who starts at WME this Friday (18 August), adds: “Steve Strange and I built an incredible business at X-ray over the last 18 years through teamwork and passion for our artists. I’m excited to start this next chapter at WME and to continue this legacy with the team in London and across the world.”

Javor was elected to X-ray’s management board in 2021. A widely respected individual, he won the Agent of the Year gong at the European Festival Awards in January and was nominated for an Arthur Award at ILMC 35 in March.

The agent has recently enjoyed enormous success with Coldplay and their Music of the Spheres World Tour, which was planned alongside Strange before his death. The record-breaking tour has been extended to a third summer, with more than 7.5 million tickets already sold.

In 2023, WME has had over 122 Grammy nominations, 16 Brit Award nominations, seven of the 12 Mercury Prize nominations, and 45 nominations across 18 categories at the Latin American Music Awards.

Performances booked by the agency in recent months include international tours for Bruno Mars, Snoop Dogg, Hozier, Pearl Jam, Tool, Travis Scott, Peter Gabriel and the Backstreet Boys, as well as key international festival performances including Foo Fighters, the Arctic Monkeys, Loyle Carner, Lewis Capaldi, Dave, Fatboy Slim, Maneskin, Jake Shears and Rick Astley.

 


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Coldplay make touring history in Argentina

Coldplay have made history in Argentina by completing an unprecedented 10-night sellout run at the 65,000-cap Estadio River Plate in Buenos Aires.

The national record previously belonged to Roger Waters, who played nine shows at the legendary “Monumental” venue in March 2012 during his The Wall Live tour.

The British band’s Music Of The Spheres tour resumed in the Argentine capital on 25 October after a string of Brazilian tour dates were postponed until early 2023 when frontman Chris Martin contracted a serious lung infection.

“We have 10 sold-out dates at River Plate Stadium – that’s 650,000 tickets in one city – but I am not surprised because Coldplay have a huge connection with people in Argentina,” said local promoter Diego Finkelstein of Buenos Aires-based DF Entertainment in IQ‘s recent tour report.

“On the last tour, I had lunch with [Coldplay manager] Dave Holmes and told him that we could sell out 10 stadiums in Buenos Aires, but he was reluctant to commit to that many at the time. So when we went on sale, we went with four shows at River Plate and that was supposed to be the end of the tour leg, but the speed they sold out at was incredible, so I pushed for more.”

“It was incredible, but if we wanted, the demand was still there to sell even more dates”

The residency wrapped up with the 10th and final show on 8 November. Finkelstein explained that the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar’s unusual November start date proved a blessing in disguise, bringing a halt to domestic football and freeing up River Plate Stadium.

“We invested $2m [€1.96m] in pitch protection to persuade the stadium to give us more dates,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get so many dates at River Plate, so we begged the band to extend the tour. On 24 May, we put shows five, six, and seven on sale and they blew out in one day. The following week we sold out shows eight and nine.

“The 10th show went on sale on 7 June and sold out in two hours. It was incredible, but if we wanted, the demand was still there to sell even more dates.”

A special live broadcast of the group’s 28 October Buenos Aires concert was screened in cinemas in more than 80 countries – a record-breaking number of countries for a live cinema event – topping the box office charts in Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Netherlands, and breaking the top 10 worldwide across the weekend covering 28-30 October, according to Comscore.

“The band’s triumphant return to the stage in Buenos Aires, with the welcomed addition of Jin from BTS as a special guest, clearly resonated on a worldwide scale”

Directed by BAFTA-winning and Grammy-nominated director Paul Dugdale, the presentation saw the band team up once more with Trafalgar Releasing, which also served as executive producer alongside CJ 4DPlex.

“We are elated with the success of the broadcast, following our release of A Head Full of Dreams in 2018,” says Trafalgar Releasing CEO Marc Allenby. “The band’s triumphant return to the stage in Buenos Aires, with the welcomed addition of Jin from BTS as a special guest, clearly resonated on a worldwide scale and once again proved the power of cinema to bring fans together. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Coldplay team in 2023.”

The live event was supported by DHL, which has partnered with the band to reduce carbon emissions from their world tour.

“It’s such a groundbreaking tour in such a challenging market,” Coldplay agent Josh Javor of X-ray Touring told IQ earlier this year. “A lot of other things in the world are just not selling at the moment, but it’s completely bucked the trend.”

Ticket sales for the Music Of The Spheres tour have exceeded 5.4 million since UK and European stadium dates went on sale for 2023.

 


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Dark Horses: The resilience of metal

Cranked amplifiers. Pyrotechnic firepower. Mosh-pit mayhem. As a genre where the blood, sweat and riffs of the live experience are both an integral part of fan appeal and artists’ revenues, the fortunes of metal are intrinsically tied to the live market, in sickness and in health.

After nearly two years of silence due to the pandemic, metal is steadily finding its feet again as a return to the summer festival touring circuit continues apace. At the time of writing, Wacken Open Air had recently wound up its 2022 edition, where 80,000 diehard metalheads summed up the loyalty in the genre with more than 95% of them rolling over their tickets from previous years. And just one day after the curtain came down, fans took just five hours to snap up all 80,000 tickets for the 2023 edition.

Elsewhere, live juggernaut Rammstein are resuming their record-breaking global stadium tour after it was rudely interrupted in 2020, concluding with three nights at Mexico City’s 65,000-capacity Foro Sol stadium. Newer boutique events are also performing well, such as Italy’s Rock The Castle, which is offering fans the opportunity to see legendary headliners Judas Priest and Megadeth within Scaligero Castle grounds.

“Metal fans are fans for their whole life,” affirms Andrea Pieroni, CEO of Vertigo who promoted the event. “We sold almost 20,000 tickets over the weekend, which is good if you consider we sell only daily tickets and capacity is 9,000. It’s a new renaissance, literally!”

The road back to live has been rocky, and the issues beleaguering the entire live industry – crew shortages, skyrocketing fuel prices, ballooning production costs – are keenly felt. Yet, unsurprisingly, for a genre that has always punched above its weight and boasts fans regarded as the most loyal in the world, in this report IQ hears how many artists and show organisers have not only survived but thrived, through a mix of passion, community and grit.

“Metal fans are fans for their whole life”

Riders on the storm
When it dawned on the industry that 2021 would not see a return to business-as-usual, several no-table metal festivals embraced digital technology like never before by staging online editions rather than let another year pass unmarked.

One such festival is The Netherlands’ tastemaker event Roadburn, whose organisers launched Roadburn Redux in April 2021, a four-day streaming event with live performances from Tilburg’s lynchpin club venue, 013. “We pulled out all the stops to make Roadburn Redux something really special, and it was affirming, as an independent festival, that we might still have a future,” recalls artistic director Walter Hoeijmakers. Performances were broadcast in real-time by local production specialists, LiveWall, who also created the online portal, which saw 79,000 fans from 132 countries tune in.

The carefully curated programme recreated all the regular hallmarks that have earned Roadburn an engaged following and a reputation for “redefining heavy”: spotlights on emerging underground talent, panel discussions, and exclusive commissioned projects, made possible through grants from the Dutch government. “We approached 16 bands and told them, ‘We want to give you a portion of this grant to create new music that we can premiere at Roadburn 2021,’” explains Hoeijmakers. “That was the main goal: to inspire the community and give bands an opportunity to grow and keep them visible.”

France’s Hellfest also got in on the action, creating a virtual “metalverse” for Hellfest From Home, where visitors could navigate between stages and interact with other headbangers. Alongside live performances, video content catered to the wider festival experience, from cocktail recipes to cooking tutorials with rockstars, racking up nearly three million views overall.

“We don’t treat festival goers as customers: it’s more like a community”

Significantly, both festivals made the online experiences open to all, free of charge. Roadburn opened donations, raising over €56,000 to help cover costs, while Hellfest sold specially produced merchandise. As Hellfest communications manager Eric Perrin explains, the focus was to repay fans for their loyalty: “It was a ‘thank you’ to everyone who had held on to their tickets. We don’t treat festival goers as customers: it’s more like a community. As an independent festival, ticketing is 60% of our budget, so we maintain a special relationship with our community because, ultimately, they’re our lifeline.”

Both festivals have been rewarded this year with sold-out attendance for their respective physical comebacks, with nearly 90% of original tickets purchases rolled over. 5,500 visitors returned to Roadburn this year, with around 80% of attendees travelling from outside The Netherlands. Meanwhile, Hellfest celebrated its 15th anniversary by spreading a stacked bill over two weekends, welcoming 420,000 people to Clisson over seven days.

Younger bands, like Static Dress and Sleep Token, have also been able to build anticipation with fresh music over the pandemic and return to larger audiences. Canadian metallers Spiritbox were on their first tour playing support to 800-cap rooms or less when the world locked down. Now, they are one of the hottest properties in metal, recently notching up a much-anticipated debut at Download Festival and two sold-out nights at Islington’s O2 Academy venue as headliners, selling 1,600 tickets.

Back in the saddle
A few tentpole events can be seen as paving the way for metal’s return to heavyweight commercial performance. Most obvious is The Metal Tour of the Year which packages together Trivium and Lamb Of God with thrash icons Megadeth, which in its first leg in 2021 alone sold over 170,000 tickets across 24 North American dates, grossing nearly $8m (€7.9m) according to Pollstar.

More impressively, demand proved so high that a second leg of 26 dates was undertaken earlier this year. Over in the UK, Bring Me The Horizon launched a fresh tour of six arenas in 2021, which sold over 60,000 tickets, while Don Broco’s 11-date run of academy-sized venues (25,000 tickets sold) has set them up for their first arena tour next year.

“We need to take more chances on new headliners”

But, in Britain’s metal calendar, no event speaks louder than Download Festival. In 2021, the UK government tasked the festival with putting together a 10,000-capacity camping festival with zero social distancing, as part of the wider Events Research Programme that would make the case for large-scale gatherings post-lockdown. Oh, and with just four weeks’ notice. No pressure.

“John Probyn and his team at Festival Republic did an incredible job pulling together the production in such short notice,” recalls Live Nation promoter Kamran Haq. “We managed to confirm the entire line-up in four days. Some bands thought we were joking when we told them we were going to do a festival in four weeks’ time, but thankfully every band we approached jumped at the chance.”

The result was a scaled-down Download featuring a best-of-British line-up headed by Enter Shikari, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, and Bullet For My Valentine. While the event was never going to turn a profit with reduced capacity and reported production costs of £2.7m (€3.2m), Haq affirms that the exercise was worthwhile. “It was a loss leader, but its success allowed other festivals like Reading and Leeds, Creamfields, Latitude etc., to go ahead later in the summer. It also showed us that we need to take more chances on new headliners, and we will do.”

By all accounts, metal festivals and tours have been back in full force this summer, with many circuit mainstays reporting bumper attendance numbers, including: Download (110,000, UK); Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park (150,000 combined, Germany); Graspop Metal Meeting (220,000, Belgium); Welcome To Rockville (160,000, US); Resurrection Festival (145,000, Spain); and Good Things (90,000, Australia).

Perennial favourites Iron Maiden resumed their mammoth Legacy Of The Beast tour to sweep up 170,000 tickets over five German stadium shows alone. In most cases, ticket retention ranges from 75% up to 90%. Yet that diehard loyalty of holding on to tickets for the past two years has also come at a cost this year – namely that touring budgets and ticket prices drawn up in 2019/2020 do not square with the costs of staging shows in 2022, with many reporting at least a 30% increase in production costs.

“We’re going to be forced to analyse comfort levels for increasing ticket prices”

“I have never seen anything like it,” says Ossy Hoppe of Wizard Promotions who, with almost 50 years’ experience promoting hard rock’s elite under his belt, has seen it all. “We have a completely different situation now, where neither promoters nor bands are making the money they expected on deals. If bands can’t get trucks, they’re getting busses. If they can’t get busses, then they’re chartering planes. The only way we will get through is if we all pull on the same string.”

5B Artist Management president Justin Arcangel observes that 2023 tour sales vary wildly, and while per-head merchandise sales at shows are double pre-pandemic levels, selling VIP packages has become essential to mitigate risk. “Maybe in 2019 our guarantees would pay for the tour and VIP would be a profit centre. Now the VIP is necessary to help the tour break even,” says Arcangel, whose clients include heavy hitters Megadeth, Slipknot, and Behemoth. “We’re going to be forced to analyse comfort levels for increasing ticket prices, but we also have to figure out how to make these tours profit if touring is going to be sustainable.”

Globetrotting
Latin America has proven itself to be a hotbed for a thriving, passionate metal fanbase across the continent. In our 2020 report, CKConcerts managing director Christian Krämer stated that development of venues and tour infrastructure would be necessary to truly open up the region. Fortunately, from his perspective, the pandemic has not set back efforts in this area.

“A few venues had to close, but the vast majority are still there, and we are even seeing new venues being opened, such as Coliseo Live arena in Bogotá,” he says. Appetites for continent-spanning tours with Airbourne and Obituary are looking promising, but not all sales are equal. “Both tours are selling very good, but I have seen several other shows that only sold very late. The market will be oversaturated until late 2023 probably, so it is still too early to see how everything will play out.”

But, as Christopher “Bitz” Ruvalcaba of metal powerhouse Cobra Agency observes, uncertainty is par for the course in a territory where political stability and currency values can, and will, vary year-to-year, state to state: “It’s not just Covid for us. You might have riots in Chile or you do a deal where the value of the dollar was worth five pesos, then three months later the dollar might be worth ten pesos. Tour cancellations happen all the time. It’s a case of resilience and adapting to bring the best opportunities to your artists.”

“The metal fans in South America are more passionate than anywhere in the world”

The pandemic and the war in Ukraine may have exacerbated existing problems, such as the costs of flying and freighting, which are a logistical necessity for a band crossing the Andes, but Ruvalcaba’s optimism for metal’s growth in the region remains unchanged. Having worked with promoters from grassroots to stadium-level and built strong relationships with artists such as Slipknot over the past ten years, he has seen touring infrastructure for metal bands across the region go from strength to strength.

The success of Mexico’s Hell and Heaven Metal Fest (30,000 cap), and the high-profile expansion of Knotfest into the territory are proof of long-term commitment bearing fruit. “We have been trying to stage Knotfest in Brazil and Chile for five years, and we have only just found the right bands and right time to do it,” he says proudly of the Slipknot-affiliated festival, which this year will also be staged in Colombia and so far has sold 30,000 tickets for each event before the full bill has even been announced. “You need passion and patience to make shows happen here, but the metal fans in South America are more passionate than anywhere in the world. It’s a culture. It’s a message.”

Forging ahead
As a heavy metal summer of festivals and touring draws to a close, conversation naturally turns to how tours set for winter 2022 and spring 2023 will perform. After all, once rollover tickets have been used up and punters start to feel the pinch of winter energy costs, how will tours sell?

Whether at a major league or independent-level, both 5B’s Justin Arcangel and Sarika Rice of London-based Desertfest have noticed a trend for customers to wait until the 11th hour to buy tickets. “I think people are wary of parting with money in advance or [concerned] that the shows are even going to happen,” says Rice, who as Desertfest’s booker and marketing head is finding the last-minute ticket sales challenging when it comes to projecting budgets for 2023’s festivals in London and New York. “Going into this year, we had 1,000 tickets rolled over for London. Will we see a quick uptake when we put tickets on sale or will it be down to the wire? We’ve got to be prepared for that.”

Yet Alan Day of Kilimanjaro Live and Action! Presents is bullish about the sales coming in. “You hear, ‘Oh, this autumn is going to be tough,’ but people say that every year! It’s always busy, but I think the market is very strong for rock and metal bands,” says Day, who has major UK tours with Bullet For My Valentine, Saboton, and Don Broco scheduled for Q1 2023. “I am very wary of the cost-of-living crisis, and we are being careful in how we position younger bands, but people will do everything they can to ensure their pay cheques stretch to go to see a show. The metal audience is loyal – that will never go away.”

“The future of touring itself will be about having much stronger packaging and not an increase in ticket price”

The opinion among many promoters and bookers is that rewarding that loyalty and delivering value-for-money at the barriers will prove crucial when it comes to ensuring good turnouts while navigating the rising costs of touring. As Adam ‘Rad’ Saunders of X-ray Touring cautions, simply offloading touring costs onto the consumer by hiking ticket prices simply won’t cut it.

“The future of touring itself will be about having much stronger packaging and not an increase in ticket price,” says Saunders, who believes that co-headline packages such as Amon Amarth and Machine Head’s upcoming UK arena tour are the way forward. “You need to put more on the table. The ticket buyer needs more value for their money, and I think that is what is needed for the confidence to return and for advance ticket sales to come back to what they were prior.”

One thing everyone IQ spoke to agrees upon is that metal continues to gain a fresh young audience, whether through well-placed syncs creating a “Stranger Things moment” or through rock lifers introducing their children to the visceral thrill of a metal show turned up to 11.

“I see young kids between 12 and 17 going back and listening to UFO and Thin Lizzy, and it’s amazing that there’s a new generation coming up that are really into hard rock and heavy metal,” marvels Ossy Hoppe, concluding that whatever the upcoming years bring for bands and their teams, the future of metal is loud. “Long live rock and roll and hopefully so will we!”


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Music of the Spheres – the tour report

While other acts opted to wait until 2023 for their stadium tours, Coldplay took a risk to push ahead this year with their Music of the Spheres tour. And the pay-off has been extraordinary, as fans starved of live music for two years are helping the band smash records. Gordon Masson reports.

With more than 3.5 million tickets sold in 2022, at the start of what is mooted to be a four-year project, Coldplay are in the midst of the biggest tour of their career – not a bad achievement considering it’s also the most eco-friendly stadium tour ever.

When frontman Chris Martin revealed the band would not tour to support their Everyday Life album in late 2019 but would instead try to “work out how our tour can not only be sustainable, [but] how can it be actively beneficial,” the industry wondered whether such ambitions were even possible.

But it turns out that those ideals had been simmering for a couple of years before the shock announcement, as stadia around the world were already on hold for the band’s current Music of the Spheres spectacular, which is laying down blueprints on how to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of touring.

“To be honest, we started to plan this tour when we were on the last tour, in 2017,” band manager Dave Holmes tells IQ. “It seemed crazy at the time, but we were holding venues for 2022 and 2023, as some stadiums actually need to be booked that far in advance.”

“The rate at which they sold – I’ve never seen anything like it, especially in South America where we couldn’t put shows on sale fast enough”

Coronavirus meant that every act had to shut down touring activities, but with Martin’s bold pronouncement never straying far from the headlines, the decision to push ahead with the tour, as scheduled, when many other A-list acts decided to keep playing their wait-and-see strategy, seems to have paid off. Big time.

“We took a big risk in terms of holding these multiples. But the rate at which they sold – I’ve never seen anything like it, especially in South America where we couldn’t put shows on sale fast enough: they’d just sell out on the day,” says Holmes.

With sales for around the 3.5m tickets mark for this year alone, the gamble has been more than worth it. But the challenges the tour principals have had to overcome along the way have been considerable.

Strange Planning
Represented by Marty Diamond at Wasserman Music for North America, Coldplay’s agent since day-one for the rest of the world was Steve Strange, who passed away in 2021. X-ray Touring colleague Josh Javor worked with Strange for many years on the band’s live career and reveals that Music of the Spheres was the final tour they planned together.

“The first show in Costa Rica was very emotional because normally I’d be arm-in-arm with Steve on those occasions,” says Javor. “Steve had been talking about this tour specifically, for a very long time. The band’s last tour was ground-breaking, but it was all just building up to this. He knew that Coldplay would be bigger than they were on A Head Full of Dreams and the venues we booked and tickets we’ve sold prove he was right.

“Just as Steve predicted, this tour is the band’s biggest to date. It’s like his legacy, and it’s very sad that he isn’t around to see just how successful it is.” Holmes comments, “Steve was brilliant. It was never about the money with him: of course, he’d always fight for you to get the best offers, but his focus was always about building the right way; taking it step by step.”

“We sold all six stadium shows in one day, and we could have easily added a couple more dates if there had been availability”

Indeed, the band themselves had to be convinced about the scale of the current tour. “When we were putting the routing together, the band were definitely a little bit unsure,” says Holmes. “It was a little bit shocking for them to see the number of dates – the multiples, in particular. It was eye-opening for them just to realise, ‘Wow, this is where you guys think we’re at now.’ But it’s the biggest tour the band have done, and a lot of that is thanks to the work Steve Strange did over 20-plus years.”

Paradise
In addition to the millions of fans they are thrilling, Coldplay’s promoter partners are a happy bunch. With Live Nation promoting the tour, along with a number of local promoters in key territories, there is universal praise for both the band and their production crew.

At press time, Simon Moran’s SJM Concerts was co-promoting Coldplay’s six dates at Wembley Stadium alongside Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery. “The demand has been incredible,” says Moran. “There was a presale that offered tickets to anyone who bought the album, but when we did the general on-sale, we sold all six stadium shows in one day, and we could have easily added a couple more dates if there had been availability.

“Coldplay’s live shows are just legendary. The number of hits that they have and just the fact that their live performances are so engaging mean that word of mouth basically sells the tickets. A Coldplay stadium show is just a massive event because there’s so much goes into it.

“I’ve never known anyone who has not been blown away by their stadium shows, and I have to say that the current tour is just the best they have created.”

“The tour being eco was very educative for all concerned: the audience, the venue, and us”

Wembley Stadium’s senior commercial manager, James Taylor, notes that Coldplay are only the second act to sell six shows in one year at the new stadium. “This takes them to 12 shows in total and equals the all-time new Wembley Stadium record – a huge achievement,” he says.

“Demand for tickets has been amongst the biggest we have ever seen at Wembley and is testament to the ongoing popularity of the band, who continue to innovate and excite with every tour.”

In Poland, Live Nation’s Grzegorz Kurant is jubilant. “It was a triumphant return,” he says. “Their last show took place in Warsaw in 2017, and it was a great success, but the demand for this year’s show was unprecedented. If there were any new [ticket] releases they were disappearing in seconds.

“The tour being eco was very educative for all concerned: the audience, the venue, and us. Even though we all do our best to be more environment-friendly, the tour was a good reminder and educator of how much still needs to be done.”
PGE Narodowy stadium is also celebrating. “It’s not only the band but also the whole team of technical support and other coordinators who made the concert in Warsaw so special,” says venue manager Jarosław Bodanko. “It doesn’t happen often that the entire production team brings so much passion and commitment to the event’s creation. Coldplay concerts are not only a unique show for concert attendees but also an extraordinary experience for everyone working on its production.”

Kurant adds, “The band are on great form. The modernised [PixMob] wristbands with all the new features are astonishing. The only challenge we had was to find enough tickets to satisfy the demand.”

“We were just coming out of Covid, and we did not know how the public would react or if they had the financial resources to go to a concert”

That’s a similar tale worldwide.

Memo Parra, director of international talent at Mexican promoter OCESA, promoted the band for back-to-back shows in March at Estadio BBVA in Monterrey and a further two dates in Guadalajara’s Estadio Akron. Then, in early April, they smashed records in the capital city.

“We sold out four shows at Foro Sol – more than 250,000 tickets in total. They are the first international act ever to do that,” Parra reports. “It was a very important time for us because we were just coming out of Covid, and we did not know how the public would react or if they had the financial resources to go to a concert. But in the end, we were delighted. Coldplay are a class act, and it is great to work with them.”

Parra is also promoting appearances at Bogotá’s Estadio El Campín – a sales feat he again lauds. “It’s not easy to sell out two stadium shows in Colombia,” he says. “Coldplay are just huge in Latin America now, and we cannot wait to have them come back again next time.”

The most impressive sales numbers, however, belong to Argentina, fulfilling the dreams of local promoter Diego Finkelstein.

“We have ten sold-out dates at River Plate Stadium – that’s 650,000 tickets in one city – but I am not surprised because Coldplay have a huge connection with people in Argentina”

“We have ten sold-out dates at River Plate Stadium – that’s 650,000 tickets in one city – but I am not surprised because Coldplay have a huge connection with people in Argentina,” says Finkelstein who runs DF Entertainment.

“On the last tour, I had lunch with Dave Holmes and told him that we could sell out ten stadiums in Buenos Aires, but he was reluctant to commit to that many at the time. So when we went on sale, we went with four shows at River Plate and that was supposed to be the end of the tour leg, but the speed they sold out at was incredible, so I pushed for more.”

Praising Josh Javor for his part in proceedings, Finkelstein says the FIFA World Cup’s unusual November kick-off means a halt to domestic football, thus freeing up River Plate Stadium.

“We invested $2m [€1.96m] in pitch protection to persuade the stadium to give us more dates,” he continues. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get so many dates at River Plate, so we begged the band to extend the tour. On 24 May, we put shows five, six, and seven on sale and they blew out in one day. The following week we sold out shows eight and nine.”

Coldplay were similarly blown away and recorded a video in Spanish to thank their Argentine fans. “It was perfect,” says Finkelstein. “The tenth show went on sale on 7 June and sold out in two hours. It was incredible, but if we wanted, the demand was still there to sell even more dates.”

“I came in just six or seven weeks from the start of the tour, so there was a lot of catching up to do”

Having already seen the spectacle in Chicago (twice) and Paris, Finkelstein is counting the days until Coldplay arrive in Buenos Aires. And citing the use of the third-generation PixMob – that in keeping with the rest of the tour are now produced using plant-based materials – Finkelstein believes that incorporating the audience into the show has elevated Coldplay to the top.

“What they deliver is this amazing immersive show for all the family. I cannot wait to see all ten shows in Buenos Aires.”

Don’t Panic
Another unforeseen challenge for team Coldplay happened earlier this year when long-time production manager Bill Leabody had to step back because of health issues. He recommended Jake Berry as his replacement, and thankfully the production guru was available.

“I came in just six or seven weeks from the start of the tour, so there was a lot of catching up to do,” says Berry.

As Leabody had spent months setting everything up, Berry found himself in unfamiliar waters, inheriting suppliers he hadn’t worked with before. “When I came along, everybody thought, ‘Oh, here comes the hatchet man: everybody’s gonna leave,’” laughs Berry. “But that was never going to be the case – there’s no point breaking up a happy crew. And besides, I couldn’t have found any suppliers able to do it in terms of equipment and the logistics that were already in place.”

“It’s a bit like stepping back in time for us old enough to remember the 70s and 80s, when we used to have to deal with carnets”

With Covid policies still in place at the start of the tour, the initial shows from Costa Rica to Mexico entailed lockdown bubbles. “Our policy would be if somebody felt sick, we would test; if they were positive, we would isolate,” says Berry. “That would mean leaving somebody behind, on their own in a hotel, and they’d catch up later. So that could be for ten days, but now it’s down to five days.”

Another dilemma to deal with has been the aftermath of Brexit. Berry is unfazed. “It’s a bit like stepping back in time for us old enough to remember the 70s and 80s, when we used to have to deal with carnets.” And he’s pragmatic about related issues. “New driver regulations and things that have changed because of the British structure in Europe didn’t really fall upon us – it fell upon the suppliers to make it work. We order what we need, and we expect the companies to do all the logistics.”

The Scientist(s)
Having very publicly proclaimed that touring would not resume until the band had figured out a more environmentally friendly way to hit the road, team Coldplay has been involved in an intense three-year period of research and development.

“Luckily for us, once Chris had mentioned it in an interview, we had an overwhelming response of people approaching us with different ideas and technologies,” explains Holmes.

As a result, the array of new tech and concepts that are being used on the production is extensive, including: state-of-the-art batteries supplied by BMW, wind-turbine technology on delay towers, solar blankets on unused seats in venues, trucks powered by Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel, and floor covers that can turn the kinetic energy created by fans dancing into electricity. More on the latter two, anon.

“Coldplay set a very high standard. They’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and money into trying to meet their sustainability goals”

Those measures have been put in place to meet the band’s pledge to make the tour “as sustainable and low-carbon as possible,” guided by three key principles: reduce, reinvent and restore.

Indeed, ongoing development will result in the 2023 introduction of generators that can run on either hydrogen, diesel, or biodiesel. “I wouldn’t want to say the name of the company behind them, yet,” states Holmes, “but their generators are a quarter of the size of the ones we currently use. And the fact they can be so versa- tile with different fuels will be a game-changer for the whole world.”

Other proposals, such as a bamboo stage system, however, had to be dropped, reluctantly. “We realised there was no guarantee that we could tour a bamboo stage everywhere in the world because different countries have different rules about bringing in trees, plants, and vegetables, and it would have fallen under that category,” says Holmes.

The Hardest Part
The band’s ambitions to cut the touring carbon footprint by 50% has forced suppliers and their logistics experts to take a long hard look at their own operations and equipment. But that task has, reportedly, been universally welcomed, as any savings made with Coldplay can be implemented – and improved upon – for future clients.

“Coldplay set a very high standard,” says Berry. “They’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and money into trying to meet their sustainability goals, and they’re so far ahead in their planning that government infrastructure is not up to speed. If it was a 100-metre dash, we’d to be ten metres in front of them at the finish line.”

“We feel proud to be part of their commitment to bringing music to the masses whilst being respectful of the world we live in”

As an example, Berry cites sourcing HVO fuel for vehicles as particularly irksome. “We used it wherever we could in America, but it was very regional,” he says. “It was great in California and places like Texas, but when we got to the east coast, it was really, really difficult. We are try- ing to set a standard, but the infrastructure isn’t there to support us.”

Determined to meet their targets, the band purchased 65,000 litres of HVO through truck- ing vendor Stagetruck, meaning the trucks were fully fuelled when they left the depot in England. “The idea was that we would buy more HVO along the way in Europe, but it’s just not avail- able in certain places, and it’s not worth the car- bon footprint to deliver it to the trucks onsite.”

However, the ‘green’ solution to that problem has been very grown up. “Now, when there’s a tour going out from the Stagetruck yard, they fill up those trucks with our fuel,” reports Berry. “The fuel is still being used to cut the carbon footprint. It may not all be on the Coldplay tour but it’s a very clever idea.”

For his part, Stagetruck boss Robert Hewett says, “We have a long-standing relationship with the band and spent time working with production to ensure we can supply the 40-plus strong team of trucks and drivers, to fit in line with their pledge to tour in an as environmentally friendly manner as possible.

“Along with staging, lights, audio, and cater- ing, we are also trucking two trailers of rechargeable [BMW] batteries, which [provide] power via solar photovoltaic panels. Our trucks are monitored to run as efficiently as possible, and the routing is carefully planned to ensure we are not burning extra diesel unnecessarily. It’s always a great pleasure working with Coldplay and their team, and we feel proud to be part of their commitment to bringing music to the masses whilst being respectful of the world we live in.”

“Everyone decided that even if it costs a little bit more money to get the same effect, if it has less environmental impact, we should do it”

Other suppliers have also upped their game in terms of reassessing efficient touring.

Nashville-based Strictly FX is supplying lasers, confetti, and pyro for the tour, which have also been put under the eco microscope. “All the confetti is biodegradable and doesn’t contain any PVC,” says the company’s art director David Kennedy, adding that their pyro product is also more sustainable. He notes, “There have been cost implications, but everyone decided that even if it costs a little bit more money to get the same effect, if it has less environmental impact, we should do it.”

However, he stresses that wellbeing remains paramount. “Sustainability comes second to the safety of something that explodes next to the band,” he says. “The flames use a standard fluid, so we’re generally getting that locally wherever we can because it doesn’t make sense to ship it. And the flame cannons themselves are now smaller units, so our freight impact is drastically reduced.”

Speed of Sound
On the audio side, Wigwam Acoustics has been working with the band for around 17 years, and company founder Chris Hill reveals the green goals of the latest tour mean that rather than flying most of the PA, “we’ve gone back to more conventional PA towers.” The company is also using equipment that requires significantly less power than on the previous Coldplay tour.

And noting the new leadership in the band’s touring set-up, Hill says, “When there’s a change of production manager, it usually means change everywhere. But Jake has basically left us to it because the audio department is kind of self-contained and doesn’t give him any grief.”

“Logistically, it’s been a major operation, as we have planned the most eco-friendly routes for supplying our equipment in all territories”

Indeed, highlighting the camaraderie among rivals in the audio business, Hill adds, “Going from zero into the summer madness where the challenges are not only with crew but also warehouse staff, manufacturers, and various supply-chain issues, has not been easy. Luckily, I have a great relationship with most of our competitors and most of them are good friends, so we all talk and try to support each other.”

When it comes to steel, Music of the Spheres is one of the few genuine world tours currently being serviced by Stageco, according to its project manager Dirk De Decker. “Logistically, it’s been a major operation, as we have planned the most eco-friendly routes for supplying our equipment in all territories,” he advises. “Jake Berry’s production team assess which local services can be called upon to meet the design’s requirements, and we provide the remaining custom elements that are irreplaceable.”

A significant engineering effort, four separate systems have been fabricated for the tour by Stageco. Two systems have been travelling around Europe while, to avoid shipping across the Atlantic, the other two were based in the United States. Each system is contained within 15 trucks and includes the materials to build each iconic part of the scenery, including the stunning moonrise arch.

In addition, Stageco’s crew – headed by Johan ‘Bellekes’ Van Espen, Stefaan Van Den Bossche, and a third team leader in America – build a50m upstage arc, two 23m high ‘pylons’ at left and right to support video screens, and a pair of custom sound towers, each with a large cantile- ver, designed in collaboration with Coldplay’s head of audio.

De Decker adds, “It’s a 72-hour steel build for us [with a single-day load-out]. All of the elements we are constructing are unconnected. No single element depends on the other, and this offers us a lot of practical flexibility on-site.”

“The artwork resembles galaxies in the universe, so the TAIT scenic team added designs in several layers to make it feel like the stars, words, and symbols were appearing from the darkness”

Another significant partner on production is TAIT, which is providing a custom mainstage sprung floor made to interact with the show’s various stages.

“Every deck surface is treated with an anti-skid treatment to allow the performers safety out in the elements, but more powerful than that is the hand-painted scenic over the entire stage,” explains TAIT senior project manager Shannon Nickerson.

“The production team provided renders and TAIT was able to create a system to paint the custom designs and layout words in Kaotican – the language created by Coldplay. The artwork resembles galaxies in the universe, so the TAIT scenic team added designs in several layers to make it feel like the stars, words, and symbols were appearing from the darkness.”

TAIT also constructed the show’s multi- coloured alien mirror ball, which houses eight lasers within it, meaning the cueing has to have pinpoint accuracy to ensure the safety of the audience.

Prospekt’s March
Among the most high-profile tech that the band is using on the tour is their kinetic floor covering – one of a myriad of products that specialists eps are supplying for the tour.

“Coldplay was my first tour, so I have an emotional connection to the band”

“Being involved on Music of the Spheres is a very special situation for me because Coldplay was my first tour, so I have an emotional connection to the band,” says eps chief Okan Tombulca.

“We do the barriers, the cable covers, the seat drapes, and we also have a solar system that we can place on the unused seats in the grandstands, depending on whether they face the sun or not. And, of course, we have the kinetic floor, which we developed together with a Dutch company to try to realise one of the ideas Coldplay themselves had.”

Indeed, Tombulca believes that the state-of-the-art floor might quickly pay for itself because it is no bigger than normal ground protection systems. “The truck space for the floor is probably around about the same,” he says.

PM Berry observes, “We have two of the kinetic floors – they’re about five-metre disks and they’re quite sophisticated. I tell people, ‘the more you jump, the louder the band will play,’ but we’re actually using the energy to help power the C stage a little bit for the lighting.

He continues, “They are brand-new so the technology’s not there yet where we can create enough energy to do it all. But back when the Vari-Lite first came out, there was only one moving light. Now there are 4,000, and they’re all 100 times better. So somebody will take this kinetic floor idea and build something that creates more energy.

“Their partnership with Coldplay is very experimental, so there will be successes and failures, but the goal is to try to change the whole paradigm of international touring”

“We’re learning as we go,” admits Berry. “We didn’t know it all to start with – certainly, I knew nothing – but it’s very, very exciting.”

Freight specialists Global Motion have worked with Coldplay for 16 years and have recently helped the band establish a new partnership with shipping giants DHL, which runs an extensive number of proactive sustainability programmes, such as windfarms in India and dams in Laos.

“We’ve worked lots with DHL in the past, using their infrastructure and helping them with projects, where the need arises,” explains managing director Adam Hatton. “Their partnership with Coldplay is very experimental, so there will be successes and failures, but the goal is to try to change the whole paradigm of international touring.”

Hatton believes everyone now has to make decisions on what is worth spending carbon on and what is not. “Everyone needs to carry less equipment internationally to make a difference,” he says. “That means less work and less profit for Global Motion, but in my view, going forward there will be more tours that are smaller, rather than the huge spectacles we’ve become used to.”

Ahead of personally handling the freight needs for Coldplay when they return to Latin America in September, Hatton reports that the crippling pandemic fees of up to six- and seven-times normal costs are gradually falling. “It’s now about 250% of where it should be,” he reports. “It’s a lot better than what it was and, personally, I don’t think it will ever come down to what the costs were pre-Covid.”

“Right now, you really have to entice local crew to come to work. Nobody’s going to show up if you’re going to pay them for four hours”

Immensely popular with contractors and their personnel, Coldplay are renowned in production circles for factoring in generous breaks to the touring schedule, often with a three- weeks-on, two-weeks-off rotation to allow band members and everyone else to spend quality time with their families.

Newcomer Berry believes such concepts en- gender loyalty, but he notes that the post-Covid scramble to assemble skilled staff has still been a significant test. “We’re not frugal on local crew because we want to get the production up and running quickly and tweak it in the same day before going into 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning,” explains Berry.

“Right now, you really have to entice local crew to come to work. Nobody’s going to show up if you’re going to pay them for four hours. It’s not worth it – they won’t show up. So you need to consider day rates. And if you need 20 hands, you always book 24.”

Appreciative of the way Coldplay take care of their crew, Wigwam’s Hill tells IQ, “They’ve al- ways tried to do the right thing, and we’ve always felt like part of the Coldplay family… it makes people go the extra mile because they’ve been looked after.”

Explaining that the generously scheduled time off also allows suppliers to carry out maintenance on equipment, Hill adds, “The amount of consoles we have on this tour is quite spectacular. Because we had some custom built, we took them back in the break between Paris and Brussels and literally stripped them down, fixed a few bugs, and serviced them.”

“Sustainability is now ingrained in every event, production, and tour we cater for”

With more than 300 mouths to feed on a show day, caterers Eat to the Beat have a 14-strong party on the road with the band – a far cry from when the company worked on Coldplay’s first tour in 2000.

“Sustainability is now ingrained in every event, production, and tour we cater for. We’re constantly striving to minimise our carbon footprint, and Coldplay is no exception,” says Kim Joyce, Eat to the Beat account manager. “Specific examples include sourcing local produce; accurate head counts to reduce food wastage; minimising single-use plastics and having a varied selection of delicious plant-based meals in our menus.”

She adds, “We have a relay system in place whereby we send an advance team on to the next city on the tour to source the local produce. We have completely cut out plastic-bottled water on the entire tour. We have aluminium bottles or cartons of water, and everyone has a refillable water bottle for use at the water cooler. We’ve also given everyone an Eat to the Beat branded mug and reusable coffee cup with a lid, which has massively reduced waste.”

In My Place
One major factor in the band’s plan to cut emissions is the tour’s residency feel – stopping in capital cities for multiple dates.

“You can’t tour in a sustainable way by travelling every day,” states Javor. “The great thing about Coldplay is there is such demand in each country and city for them: they can sell 180,000-200,000 tickets in Berlin; Frankfurt, Brussels, and Paris are similar. And when we look at where the audience is travelling from, they’re not travel- ling that far – they’re mostly locals – so we’re cut- ting down on carbon footprint for the fans, too.”

“It might sound crazy because of the volume of tickets we’re selling, but there’s still a fair amount being left on the table”

Berry observes, “You can recite the European tour on a postage stamp – three Frankfurts, one Warsaw, three Berlins, four Parises, four Brussels, six Wembleys, and two Glasgows. That’s Europe. And then we go to South America where, once again, the band is so popular that we can afford to stay in cities for two, three, four, six dates, and in the case of Buenos Aires, ten nights.”

Agent for North America, Marty Diamond, had the band play a dozen shows in May and June. “Josh [Javor] and I work in lockstep in terms of the scheduling and the band’s availability, while we also work very closely with our promoter partners,” says Diamond.

He says that while Coldplay are capable of playing multiple dates in the metropolis cities, for the first US leg of the current tour, “We were trying to cover off a lot of territory in a very short period of time, so that’s why most of the cities were just single dates.”

Diamond reveals the band will return for another stadium run in America in 2023, adding, “The band are always pushing the envelope in terms of creativity. This tour just takes everything to the next level.”

Javor says that plans for the current tour remain consistent with previous outings. “When Coldplay last toured in 2017, we left a lot on the table even though we sold out everywhere. It might sound crazy because of the volume of tickets we’re selling, but there’s still a fair amount being left on the table this time, too.

“We’re playing eight stadiums in Brazil, plus a 100,000-capacity festival – Rock in Rio. We’re playing ten shows in Argentina, two shows in Colombia, two shows in Peru, four shows in Chile. It’s huge but, in truth, we could have sold more.”

PM Berry is a newly converted fan and is also looking forward to the record-breaking run in Argentina. “I love the energy that Coldplay have,” he says. “It’s a family show where you can bring your three-year-old kid or your 80-year-old grandmother, and they’re all gonna leave singing or whistling a song. And that’s why we all do what we do.”

This feature appeared in the current issue of IQ Magazine (113), which can be read here.

 


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IFF 2022: First agency showcases revealed

With less than a month to go until kick-off, the International Festival Forum (IFF) – the invitation-only event for festival professionals and booking agents – has revealed the first partner agency showcases. The announcement comes as the programme for the event is finalised, with over 800 attendees expected from 40 countries.

Wasserman Music, X-Ray Touring, UTA and Earth Agency are among the world-class booking agencies that will be showcasing festival-ready talent at this year’s IFF in Camden, London.

Following the 27 September opening parties, X-Ray Touring will kick off IFF’s daytime showcase schedule at PowerHaus in Camden on 28 September, presenting Gigi Moss, Psymon Spine, The Native and Zheani.

The following afternoon, Wasserman Music will present Dead Pony, Debbie, flowerovlove, and Piri & Tommy , and Earth Agency showcases Deijuvhs and Haviah Mighty.

Capping off IFF’s showcase schedule later that night, United Talent Agency will present three artists – FAT DOG, Panic Shack and ZAND – under its up-and-coming music brand, Hear This.

The Roskilde team is inviting all IFF delegates to raise a glass at a special birthday celebration in IFF’s host hotel

With a schedule of events that includes daytime conference sessions, pop up agency office spaces around Camden, the eighth edition of IFF “must be the most involved, and wide-reaching yet,” says co-founder Ruud Berends.

As part of this year’s programme, IFF has also announced 50th-anniversary celebrations for Denmark’s marquee festival, Roskilde. On 28 September, at 12:00, IFF will host a unique conversation with the Roskilde team that will cover everything from its 70s roots, to how it thrives today as an organisation linked to the latest trends and ideologies.

Later that day, between 21:00–23:00, the Roskilde team is inviting all IFF delegates to raise a glass at a special birthday celebration in the Glasshouse of IFF’s host hotel, the Holiday Inn in Camden (more details here).

Agencies still to announce showcasing artists over the coming weeks include Primary Talent, ATC Live, Solo and One Fiinix Live. Meanwhile, supporters of this year’s IFF include Ticketmaster, Universe, Tysers, Vatom, eps, Oooosh! Tours, Music Venue Trust, John Henry’s and the UK’s Department for International Trade.

View the full artists’ lineup here, and listen to all the showcasing artists via the official IFF 2022 playlist here. For more information on the IFF’s 2022 schedule, click here.

 


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Loud and Proud: IQ pride playlist now live

IQ Magazines second annual Pride edition sees the return of the Loud & Proud playlist and feature, for which our agency partners profile some of the most exciting queer acts on their rosters.

13 Artists, ATC Live, CAA, FMLY, Hometown Talent, Progressive Artists, Wasserman Music, and X-ray Touring are among the contributing agencies.

Read about the agencies’ standout queer acts and listen to their key tracks below. Scroll down for the full Loud and Proud playlist.

 


Eliza Legzdina 
Agent: Darren James-Thomas | FMLY Agency
Eliza Legzdina was picked by NME as one of the highlights at Eurosonic Festival 2022. A queer, London-based, Latvian, R&B “star in the making” (Crack Mag), she performed with Rudimental at Brixton Academy in June and features on one of their forthcoming singles.

Legzdina featured on lau.ra’s track, Blow, which was selected by BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders as tune of the week; while her collaboration with the same artist on Wicked also saw her placed on the 6 Music B-List. She has also worked with Idris Elba on the track Fudge.

Other recent shows include supporting Princess Nokia at EartH in London, while festival appearances have seen her take to the stages at Europavox, The Great Escape, and Pride Porto. Later this summer, she is confirmed to perform at Brighton Pride, Manchester Pride, and Latitude Festival.

Jemima Coulter
Agent: Jake Nevens | 13 Artists
Raised on classical music in Hampshire without context for what was popular, 24-year-old Jemima Coulter has developed a sound meticulously their own. Previously having cut their teeth as one-half of the Hailaker project, which has seen co-signs from the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Novo Amor, and many others, Jemima’s debut album Grace After A Party releases in July via Hand In Hive, boasting an enviable cast of guest appearances from the world of indie music.

Paige Kennedy
Agent: Rob Gibbs | Progressive Artists
Paige Kennedy is an artist and producer from Kent, UK, with an energetic alt-pop sound, drawing on a mix of funk, electronic, and indie. Their recent EP, 4 Degrees, has gained recognition from 6 Music, BBC Introducing, BBC Radio Kent, and Spotify’s Fresh Finds and young & free editorial playlists.

They’ve been gigging regularly in London and Manchester, supporting Peaness and BC Camplight, and have some exciting slots lined up for 2022. Paige also made the top five out of over 3,000 applicants for the Green Man Rising competition 2021, performing at the live-streamed finals. Paige is currently working on new material that will be released later this year.

Jodie Harsh
Agent: Chris Ibbs | CAA
UK cultural icon Jodie Harsh returned with her new single Shock, released 1 July on Warner Records. An irresistible club jam, the track combines rousing vocals and anthemic hooks with a deep, infectious bassline. It follows on from Good Time, an acclaimed release that was crowned BBC Radio 1 Hottest Record in the World by Charlie Hedges.

Kicking off the year with remixes for Kylie Minogue, Years & Years, Sonny Fodera, and most recently Charli XCX & Rina Sawayama, 2022 has been huge for nightlife icon Jodie Harsh. Fresh from supporting Jessie Ware on tour, she is currently in the middle of a hectic festival run with appearances at Creamfields North & South, Elrow, Mighty Hoopla, and Radio 1 Big Weekend, as well as starting residencies alongside Becky Hill at Ibiza Rocks and Danny Howard at Amnesia in Ibiza.

A legendary face of the London club scene, she is currently curating new queer club night Feel It at Omeara alongside Little Gay Brother. Adding another string to her huge bow, Jodie also hosts her own podcast, Life of The Party, with guests on the latest series so far including Joel Corry, Tom Grennan, Fat Tony, The Blessed Madonna, and Jessie Ware.

Lambrini Girls
Agents: Roxane Dumoulin & Suzy Noel | ATC Live
Brighton three-piece Lambrini Girls are: Phoebe (vocals/guitar), Lilly (bass), and Catt (drums). Influenced by Le Tigre and Bikini Kill but served with a tongue-in-cheek style all their own, Lambrini Girls are here to take over the scene, one bottle at a time.

Kerrang! describes them as, “A cornerstone of Brighton’’ queer music scene,” while Gigwise opts for “Raucously untamed, feral punk; a frenetic and fiery blast of thrashy mayhem that takes no shit.”

As for the band themselves, they prefer: “The best band in the world. Imagine your nan is in the boot of your car with a croissant in her mouth and hears Bikini Kill for the first time. That could be you. It will never be us, as we are not Bikini Kill, and we are not your nan. We are Lambrini Girls. Bon appétit.”

Uninvited 
Agent: Shaun Faulkner | X-ray Touring
Uninvited formed after vocalist and bassist Taylor-Ray Dillon (she/her) and vocalist and guitarist Gillian Dhlakama (they/them), previously based in Dundee, met as solo acoustic artists. With a little help from Instagram, the pair later became connected with guitarist Bex Young (they/them) and drummer Fiorenza Cocozza (she/her). They officially became Uninvited in August 2020 and joined 7 West Music Management (The Dunts, Spyres, As December Falls, The Roly Mo).

Their latest offering, Behind The Black Door, is yet another defiant single that Uninvited are becoming known for. Their debut single, Tomboy, was an important landmark for the band, who became aware that they themselves could be the change they wanted to see, writing music that pushes the LGBTQ+ conversation into the male-dominated indie atmosphere – a multidimensional reclamation of their early queer experiences in a shimmering indie-pop package.

Although their live career has been affected by Covid and subsequent restrictions, Uninvited made their debut live performance in the summer of 2021, supporting Dead Pony at a sold-out King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow. Their streak of supporting the hottest bands from the Glasgow scene continued as they opened for Baby Strange at SWG3 and Spyres at Stereo.
The band had the honour of playing the Tiny Changes fund-raiser, appearing alongside The Twilight Sad and Carla J. Easton. And, in early 2022, they supported BBC Introducing Scottish Act of the Year winner Bemz and London-based Dream Wife.

Cat Burns
Agent: Alex Hardee | Wasserman Music
Cat Burns is a 21-year-old singer and songwriter from Streatham in London. The former BRIT School student went from busking on the Southbank to mastering TikTok in lockdown, singing a mix of her favourite covers and original music. As a result, she rapidly amassed around half a million followers in just three months and now sits on over 1 million followers on the platform.

Cat is not only an astounding vocal talent but also an incredibly talented songwriter offering acute observations on life and love with a fresh perspective. She draws upon gospel influences, pop inspirations, and a love of guitar-led and indie music, too. She proudly cites Ed Sheeran, India.Arie, and Tori Kelly as a few of her biggest inspirations.

Her highly anticipated EP, Emotionally Unavailable, was released in May, and performance-wise she has supported Mae Muller and Years & Years on tour, while in August she will appear at Boardmasters Festival.

Luna Luna
Agent: Joren Heuvels | Hometown Talent
As one-quarter of Luna Luna, Kaylin Martinez is a 26-year- old artist/musician who lives in Austin, Texas. Since discovering her love for the drums at the age of 11, Kaylin has seen her drum career change many times. She was in a marching band throughout high school, played in worship bands, and even went on to earn a Minor in Music.

After years of playing unfulfilling gigs, Kaylin finally found her perfect fit with Luna Luna. She has played all over the United States and eventually will play around the world. While playing with Luna Luna, Kaylin has been able to establish herself as a professional musician, allowing her to express herself through her first love: music.

Listen to the full Loud and Proud playlist below:

 


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IFF 2022 launches with new central hub, agency partners

The eighth edition of the International Festival Forum (IFF), ILMC’s invitation-only event for festivals and bookers, is now live.

More than 800 delegates are expected to attend this year’s gathering of the international music festival business, with many of the world’s leading booking agencies signed up as partners.

Wasserman Music, WME, CAA, UTA, ICM Partners/Primary Talent, ATC Live, X-Ray Touring, One Finiix Live and Earth Agency are among the first to back the 2022 edition and many of whom will present showcases featuring the hottest new talent.

Alongside the showcases, IFF 2022 will offer the usual plethora of networking, showcases, panels, and parties – all taking place between 27 and 29 September in London.

In addition, IFF has announced a new central hub, the Holiday Inn in Camden, which will be transformed into IFF Central for three days.

IFF has announced a new central hub, the Holiday Inn in Camden, which will be transformed into IFF Central

IFF Central will be exclusive to delegates and will host all conference sessions, complimentary delegate lunches, a late-night bar that’s open until the early hours, and ample space for private meetings.

The hotel also features 100 rooms for delegates in a range of categories, which can be booked at the same time as registering your pass. Room rates are discounted for IFF delegates but there’s a limited number available. Click here for more details.

Since launching in 2015, IFF has gained a reputation for showcasing the most talented emerging artists at early stages of their careers, including Idles, Slaves, Loyle Carner, Public Service Broadcasting, Lewis Capaldi and Shame.

Last year, IFF enjoyed a successful return to a physical event, with a programme that featured a double keynote interview with Melvin Benn and Folkert Koopmans.

More details of IFF 2022, including the provisional schedule, will be announced in due course. If you have an idea for a panel topic, speaker or presentation, please email Ruud Berends.

A limited number of super discounted earlybird passes are now available for just £345 (saving £150 on the full rate). Each pass includes access to all sessions and showcases, lunches, dinners, and some drinks. Click here to register.

 


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X-ray Touring announces slate of promotions

London-based X-ray Touring has announced a slate of promotions, which includes Jo Biddiscombe’s elevation to a director of the company.

Biddiscombe has been with X-ray since its inception in 2005 and was made an agent in 2017. She will join Martin Horne, Ian Huffam, Josh Javor and Scott Thomas on the management board.

X-ray has also promoted Claire MacLeod to the role of agent. MacLeod joined the agency in 2011 and worked under the late Steve Strange across his roster. In addition, Paul Lomas and Hannah Edds have been promoted to bookers.

“As we continue with the full return to live touring, we’re very pleased to refresh both our board and team of agents and bookers”

Scott Thomas says: “As we continue with the full return to live touring, and an intensely busy few years ahead across our roster, we’re very pleased to refresh both our board and team of agents and bookers.

“This acknowledges the already invaluable input from the individuals involved and the ideas and dynamism they’ll bring to their new roles.”

X-ray’s roster of more than 400 acts includes Coldplay, Eminem, Robbie Williams, Gorillaz, Queens of the Stone Age, Linkin Park, Pixies, Stereophonics, Bombay Bicycle Club, Enter Shikari and Fever 333, while AGI represents Billy Joel, Metallica, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, Linkin Park, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, the Strokes and Cage the Elephant, among others.

The company was co-founded by legendary booking agent Steve Strange, who passed away in September 2021.

 


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The Great Escape announces The Steve Strange Award

The Great Escape Festival has announced the launch of The Steve Strange Award, in honour of the legendary X-Ray Touring co-founder, who died last September.

The annual award will recognise a music act that is breaking through creative boundaries, with the first recipient to be announced on 16 May following the culmination of this year’s festival, which takes place in Brighton from 11-14 May.

The winner, who will be voted on by industry delegates, will also receive a £5,000 cash prize.

“Steve Strange has a long history with The Great Escape and championed hundreds of artists over the years,” says MAMA Group CEO Rory Bett. “It is a great honour for us to launch this award for creativity in his name, so that he can continue to influence the industry he loved.”

“Steve was a huge supporter of The Great Escape and would be deeply honoured by this award being launched in his name”

“Steve was a huge supporter of The Great Escape and would be deeply honoured by this award being launched in his name,” adds agent Josh Javor, Strange’s longtime sidekick at X-Ray Touring. “He was first and foremost a passionate music fan and creativity was at the heart of his business. We are delighted his name will live on through this award and inspire many artists into lifelong careers in the industry Steve loved so much.”

Strange represented artists including the likes of Eminem, Coldplay, Queens of the Stone Age, Snow Patrol, Eagles of Death Metal, Ash, The Charlatans and Phoebe Bridgers. He was named Agent of the Decade at last year’s ILMC and it has previously been announced that the delegate bar at the event will be renamed Strangey’s Bar in his memory.

Strange was also honoured at this week’s Pollstar Awards, held at the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom in Los Angeles, where he was posthumously named International Booking Agent of the Year.

 


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Steve Strange wins posthumous honour at Pollstar Awards

The late Steve Strange was honoured at last night’s annual Pollstar Awards, held at the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom in Los Angeles.

The legendary booking agent and X-ray Touring co-founder, who passed away in September 2021, posthumously won International Booking Agent of the Year.

In what Pollstar dubbed the most emotional moment of the night, manager Andy Gould paid tribute to the late agent, bringing a cardboard cutout of Strange onstage with him.

“This guy wasn’t just my friend, he was all of our friends; he wasn’t my agent, he was kind of all of our agent,” Gould said. “I miss him so fucking much, I really do. And I think I speak for everyone in the room: We need more Steve Stranges.”

A number of other international execs and venues also scooped awards at the 33rd annual ceremony, including Barrie Marshall (Marshall Arts) who took home International Promoter of the Year – not for the first time.

“I think I speak for everyone in the room: We need more Steve Stranges”

London’s Royal Albert Hall, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2021, was honoured not once but twice with the Milestone Award and International Venue of the Year.

Elsewhere, Harry Styles was presented with the Major Tour of the Year award for his ‘Love on Tour’ arena run. Styles’ manager Jeffrey Azoff of Full Stop Management also received recognition in the Personal Manager of the Year category.

Other award-winning executives include Amy Corbin of C3 Presents (Talent Buyer of the Year), Bob Roux of Live Nation (Bill Graham Award/Promoter of the Year) and Dave Rowan of High Road Touring (Bobby Brooks Award/Agent of the Year).

CAA, meanwhile, won Booking Agency of the Year.

A full list of Pollstar Awards 2022 winners is below:

Major Tour of the Year: Harry Styles, Love on Tour

Best Rock Tour: Foo Fighters

Best Hip-Hop Tour: J. Cole, The Off-Season Tour

Best R&B Tour: Earth, Wind & Fire, Miraculous Supernatural Tour

Best Pop Tour: Maroon 5

Best Country Tour: Chris Stapleton, Chris Stapleton’s All-American Road Show Tour

Best Latin Tour: Enrique Iglesias / Ricky Martin, Live in Concert

Comedy Tour of the Year: Sebastian Maniscalco, Nobody Does This Tour

Best Support/Special Guest Act and Tour: Garbage (Alanis Morissette)

Best Residency: Lady Gaga, Jazz & Piano, The Las Vegas Residency, Park Theatre, Las Vegas

Best Family, Event or Non-Music Tour of the Year: Disney on Ice

Best New Headliner/Artist Development Story: Billy Strings

Music Festival of The Year (Global; over 30K attendance): Austin City Limits Music Festival, Austin, Texas

Music Festival of The Year (Global; under 30K attendance): Ohana Festival, Dana Point, Calif.

Nightclub of the Year: Troubadour, West Hollywood, Calif.

Theatre of the Year: Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tenn.

Arena of the Year: The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.

Red Rocks Award – Outdoor Concert Venue of the Year: Ascend Amphitheater, Nashville, Tenn.

Best New Concert Venue – Small Venue: Brooklyn Bowl, Nashville, Tenn.

Best New Concert Venue – Arena: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, Wa.

Best New Concert Venue – Outdoors: Sofi Stadium, Los Angeles, Calif.

International Venue of the Year: Royal Albert Hall, United Kingdom

Venue Executive of the Year: David Kells, Bridgestone Arena

Talent Buyer of the Year: Amy Corbin, C3 Presents

Small Venue Talent Buyer of the Year (Under 10,000 Capacity): Donna Busch, Goldenvoice

Bill Graham Award/Promoter of the Year: Bob Roux, Live Nation

International Promoter of the Year: Barrie Marshall, Marshall Arts

Bobby Brooks Award – Agent of the Year: Dave Rowan, High Road Touring

International Booking Agent of the Year: Steve Strange, X-ray Touring

Booking Agency of the Year: CAA

Independent Booking Agency of the Year (Global): High Road Touring

Rising Star Award: Molly Warren, Live Nation

Personal Manager of the Year: Jeffrey Azoff, Full Stop Management

Road Warrior of the Year: Ken Helie (Dead & Company)

Transportation Company of the Year: Rock-it Cargo

Best Concert Visuals: Bandit Lites

Best Concert Sound: Clair Global

Marketing/PR Executive of the Year: Allison McGregor, CAA

Best Brand Partnership/Live Campaign: Amazon/Climate Pledge Arena Naming Rights

Best Hang: Austin City Limits Music Festival, Austin, Texas

Best Person to Score a Dinner With: Irving Azoff, The Azoff Company (TIE), Michael Rapino, Live Nation (TIE)

Life of the Party: Ron Delsener, Live Nation

Damn The Torpedoes: 2021 Touring Artist, Dave Chappelle

Milestone Award: Royal Albert Hall, United Kingdom

Music Unites Award: D-Nice

 


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