Published May 23, 2017BC festivalgoers were hit with the harsh news last week that the anticipated Pemberton Music Festival would be pulling the plug on its recently announced 2017 edition, with promoters Huka Entertainment suddenly declaring the festival bankrupt and leaving ticket holders out in the cold. Now, the festival is being hit with some high-powered legal threats.
Marc Geiger — the head of music for William Morris Endeavor, which represents several of the artists who were set to play Pemberton like HAIM, Big Sean, and Tegan and Sara — is now threatening to take the festival to court, Global News reports. His legal threats come as festivalgoers find themselves without automatic ticket refunds, as "the festival is now in bankruptcy and has no ability to provide refunds for tickets purchased."
Geiger said, "I'm not going to allow this. We deal with cancelled events all the time on an artists' side, but nobody stiffs consumers.
"I'm the head of music for the biggest talent agency in the world who does more of this than anybody. I've never been on the phone with reporters talking about anything like this."
For the 2017 edition of Pemberton, more than 18,000 people bought tickets before the fest was abruptly cancelled due to Huka declaring the BC festival bankrupt in the face of a $14 million budget shortfall. And while some ticket buyers may be able to secure refunds, the whole situation is definitely sitting poorly with Geiger.
"[Huka] had multiple options: swallow a bigger loss, refund consumers, cancel the show. They could play the show. They could try to negotiate reduced fees from artists. There's a number of things you can do."
He added that, in the larger scheme of things, something like this would cause festivalgoers to lose confidence in such events.
"The next time somebody is thinking about buying a ticket, they are thinking, 'Are these people scumbags? Are they going to abscond with my money?'" he said. "People think twice about buying."
It also appears that the ripple effects of the axed festival go way beyond ticket holders. Lewis Neilson — owner of Production Power Corporation, a Vancouver firm hired for Pemberton — told the Vancouver Sun, "All of us are owed a lot of money. No one's going to get anything. As far as I know, they have no assets."
Geiger even went to call Huka's actions "fraud, pure and simple" and compared the incident to the infamously cancelled Fyre Festival.
"The only difference between Pemberton and Fyre is that Pemberton sold their event with trees instead of supermodels," he told Billboard.
"This is just gross to me. These guys are declaring bankruptcy, but none of them are actually bankrupt. Their shell company is bankrupt. And now they want fans to pay the price. That's not bankruptcy. That's fraud."
Geiger added, "I want each of them to know 'I'm coming after you personally.' We're going to pursue all of these people to the full extent of the law."
Pemberton was scheduled to run from July 13 to 16. Performers set to play the event included Chance the Rapper, Muse, A Tribe Called Quest, Major Lazer, the Avalanches, HAIM, Run the Jewels, Diplo, Big Sean, Ween, Logic, Tegan and Sara, MGMT, Future Islands, Migos and many others.