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Cancellations, confusion lead to festival disarray

Bad weather led to delays, but artists deny they cut shows
July 30,2019
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Holiday Land Festival promised a lineup filled with big names, such as Joji, above, who performed in Korea for the first time on Saturday. On Sunday, the festival was chaotic due to the wind and rain, left. [SCREEN CAPTURE, JEON TAE-GYU]
Holiday Land Festival (HLF), the two-day music event put together by festival organizer Fake Virgin, ended in confusion last weekend, signaling a potential disaster for music festivals in Korea.

HLF was scheduled to take place on Saturday and Sunday at the Paradise City Hotel and Resort in Incheon, and promised an exciting lineup featuring popular international acts like Anne-Marie, H.E.R., Cigarettes After Sex, Daniel Caesar, Joji, James Blake and Men I Trust.

Yet, the festival started off a bit bumpy. Just a day before the festival began, organizers announced that American singer H.E.R., one of Saturday’s headliners, would not be attending. When festivalgoers reached out to organizers asking if the event would be affected by forecasted heavy rains, they were told to wait until Saturday morning. Organizers did not make a call until 11 a.m. on Saturday, an hour before the first performances began, frustrating attendees traveling from out of town. The weather cooperated on the first day, and the festival went out smoothly - without H.E.R.



On Sunday at 10 a.m., the festival notified attendees that while the festival was still on, they would be canceling the two performances scheduled for 12 and 1 p.m., to “rearrange the stage setting” due to rain and wind.

“The rainfall and wind speed is below our cancellation standards, so we will be holding the festival as scheduled,” the organizer said. D.J. Light’s performance was canceled, but the rest of the lineup - 92914, Toro y Moi, Balming Tiger and Sabrina Claudio - all performed on time.

At 5 p.m., however, festival organizers informed attendees that Beenzino’s performance, set to begin at 5:30 p.m., would be postponed by 30 minutes due to wind. They announced another delay 30 minutes later. The audience was kept waiting for two hours without any information, and the audience found out that Beenzino’s performance had been canceled through his Instagram story.

“I was informed that the performance at the Holiday Land Festival was canceled because of safety issues,” he wrote. “I feel so sad. I’m sorry to give this news to the fans who have been waiting so long for me.”

Making things worse, Amine went on stage at 7:30 p.m., instead of Daniel Caesar who was originally set to perform from 6:30 p.m. When Amine left the stage at 8:15 p.m., organizers kept the audience waiting, again without any music or notification. At 9:07 p.m., a production director came on stage.

“Due to the bad weather, Daniel Caesar and Anne-Marie’s performances have been canceled because that’s what the artists wanted to do,” the director said. “For refunds, we will post details on the official website.”

Later at night, however, Anne-Marie took to her Twitter and Instagram accounts, saying, “I did not cancel the show. Please spread the word.”

She posted another tweet a few minutes later saying, “I can’t believe the festival announced it was my decision! I still wanted to go on stage and was told I would have to sign an agreement where I would be liable for people’s deaths if the stage broke!”

The singer held a free concert at 11:30 p.m. at the Paradise City Main Hotel’s Rubik Lounge for her fans. According to fans, the singer even shed tears during her performance, saying it was not her decision to cancel her show.

As of Monday afternoon, Fake Virgin posted a brief statement on its website and social media, but has not explained the reason for the cancelation or the refund process for attendees.

“There are numerous groundless rumors regarding the cancelation of the performances on Sunday,” the statement said. “We - the production, the venue and the organizers - are holding internal talks to clarify the overall situation and how to compensate the attendees. We will be making the final notification today.”

A concert organizer, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It’s usually the case that stages are built to last even in harsh weather conditions, but they obviously seemed weak. It’s appalling to see that the organizers are blaming the artists themselves for not preparing themselves properly.”

She added, “Fake Virgin has been notorious within Korea for the way it handles things, but it seems that the foreign artists weren’t made aware of it.”

According to a music producer, who also wished to remain anonymous, this may happen more in the future, referring to the cancellation of 2019 Jisan Rock Festival, which was also set to take place last weekend. D2 Global Company, the organizers of that event, announced the cancellation just three days before the festival.

“There are so many festivals, small and big, and not just in Korea,” the insider said. “So while artists have so many places to choose from, meaning they’re not bound to a single festival, the organizers are making all kinds of promises they can’t keep to stand out. With more festivals popping up all over the place, this may just be the beginning of a series of failures.”

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]