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Hellfest ’05 Not Happening

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Concert promotion is dicey business under the best of circumstances, and apparently these were not they.

Just a day before its scheduled Aug. 19-21 aural assault on New Jersey aggro fans, the ninth-annual Hellfest — “a barricade-free, circle pit induced festival” with 188 acts, to have taken place at Trenton N.J.’s Sovereign Bank Arena — has been canceled due to concerns over whether organizers’ insurance policy was adequate to cover the event.

The Hellfest website reads:

    Due to circumstances beyond our control, Hellfest has been cancelled. After a full day in court in Burlington County, NJ, Hellfest was unable to meet unreasonable demands brought to Hellfest’s attention by the Sovereign Bank Arena on August 16, 2005 at 6:21 PM, and to be met by August 17, 2005 at 7:00 AM. Actions were taken and Hellfest had an injunction filed by noon on August 17, 2005, but was overruled by the judge.

    We send our deepest apologies out to the fans and everyone who was involved with the event and want you to be aware that legal action is being taken. For ticket refunds please contact the Sovereign Bank Arena box office.

Among the acts confirmed to appear were Public Enemy, Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, Anti-Flag, Hatebreed, Sick of It All, the Misfits, Bouncing Souls, From Autumn to Ashes, Lifetime, and more than 150 other metal, hardcore, punk and hip-hop acts coming from as far away as Japan.

“It was going to be a great event and it had a lot of potential,” arena general manager Eric Cuthbertson told the Trentonian newspaper. “Unfortunately the event promoters failed to comply with the contractible obligation of the arena’s lease agreement. They failed to meet schedules and deadlines which forced us into a corner where we had to cancel the event.”

Hellfest organizer Shawn Vander Poel said he met all of the contract’s conditions by taking out two separate $1 million insurance policies, one for injuries and accidental deaths and a second for property damage. But the arena, he said, “found some loophole,” that forced them to pull the plug on the show. The venue required an “A8 rated” insurance company, but that was never done, according to the promoter.

“It never stated what rating the insurance company had to be,” Vander Poehl said. “There is no way whatsoever that our insurance is a breach of contract. We followed what is here in writing to a T.”

“They always say you can’t fight city hall. Obviously someone in city hall didn’t want this to happen,” he said.

But insurance may not have been the only problem.

Max Cruise Entertainment, which booked 90 percent of the bands on the bill, told the Trentonian that promoters failed to pay advance deposits promised to the performers by August 1.

“I’m not going to talk money, but the money due to bands and certain deadlines were not met,” Chris Ring, one of the talent buyers, told the paper. “There were a lot of things they were saying that didn’t end up be true.”

Vander Poehl said organizers spent $100,000 on talent, $65,000 in production costs and $60,000 in marketing, but Ring laughed at that claim. “It just seemed to me that certain things were lacking,” said Ring. “It seemed that they weren’t able to follow through on their promises.”

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About Eric Olsen

  • Eric Olsen

    did anyone out there have tickets? travel expenses, etc?

  • Anne

    The days of big music festivals are long over for me, but the 22nd (or thereabouts) comment to this post has some illuminating details about Mr. Vander Poehl. It sounds like the planning was rather sloppy.

  • Anne

    Hmm….the URL was fine when I previewed it. Oh well; here it is again.

  • Eric Olsen

    very interesting, thanks Anne! I can’t get the embedded link to work either, odd.

  • Anne

    My pleasure. :-) I wanted to avoid the embarrassment of being called on the bad link first!

    Now there’s a concert tomorrow night at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ with a lot of the acts booked for Hellfest. It’s a completely seperate show, so no refunds are available, but it’s nice that NY/NJ/PA metal fans have a show to catch after all.