Move Over Fyre Festival, There’s A New Disaster Event Happening Right Now
The remains of last year’s Fyre Festival are still smouldering away, but judging by the latest clusterfuck to come out of the US, promoters haven’t learned a damn thing.
California’s XO Festival was due to take place this weekend, with more than 100 artists — including acts like Ludacris, T.I., Flavor Flav, and Vanilla Ice — billed across seven stages. It also promised luxury festival add ons like a foam pit, a colour arena, an indoor skating rink, and something called an “interactive bounce arena” (??).
Tickets for the three-day event reportedly ranged from $375 to an eye-watering $2,495.
It all seemed too good to be true — and, of course, it was. Earlier this week the wheels started to fall off as artists began pulling out of the festival, citing failures by the organisers to fulfil their contractual obligations.
“It appears that this company lead many of the artists to believe this was a legit concert, signed contracts, used our images and names to sell tickets, but never confirmed with financial contractural agreements,” one of the artists, Trinere V. Farrington, wrote on Facebook.
XO Festival appeared to be powering on through all of this, writing on Instagram that all the bad press swirling around was just due to “fake media”.
XO’s optimism was short lived: on Wednesday their venue, Antioch’s Contra Costa Event Park, issued a statement saying they were cancelling the event “due to the promoters’ lack of fulfilling contractual obligations”.
Rolling Stone reports that some artist managers were suspicious from the start. “It’s been nothing but fraud,” Jim Hudson of Country Music Management told RS. “Things didn’t add up. It was fraud from the start. I’m a retired cop and I try to do a bit of background on people before booking [my artist], and it’s been nonstop issues, nonstop red flags.”
One of those red flags was the fact that XO’s promoter, Sami Habib, had recently been arrested for a real estate scam. Another flag was that Ludacris — touted as an XO headliner — was actually playing another festival on exactly the same date.
Influential radio station SiriusXM was listed as a sponsor for the festival, but when contacted by RS to confirm this, they denied any kind of sponsorship. RS also reported that Habib allegedly told an artist on the line-up that he had already refunded 1000 festival tickets.
XO Festival hasn’t yet released an official statement. Its website is now offline, and they haven’t updated any of their social platforms since Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Fyre Festival promoter Billy McFarland is currently in jail awaiting sentencing on multiple charges of wire fraud and money laundering. Last week two punters were awarded $5 million in a settlement as compensation for the “mental anguish, pain and suffering” they endured at the doomed Bahamas event.