Brown disappointed with BDO demise

PETER VINCENT, MICHELLE DUFF AND JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 15:09 26/06/2014
Stuff.co.nz

The 2015 Big Day Out has been cancelled after the festival was bought by an American-owned company.

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Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder perform at the Big Day Out,

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Auckland Mayor Len Brown says he is disappointed the Big Day Out will not return to Auckland next year but has left the door open for organisers.

"It's disappointing that it appears there won't be a Big Day Out this summer.

"But even without BDO there will be a big season of events on offer in Auckland, and we look forward to welcoming BDO back at a later date," Brown told Fairfax Media.

The annual music festival was given another go this year after a one-year hiatus and shift to central Auckland's Western Springs Stadium. 

But BDO's Auckland promoter Campbell Smith confirmed today the iconic festival would not return for 2015, after the Australian director of the event AJ Maddah sold his share to US company C3 Presents, who have pulled all shows for this year.

But the Texan company, which also runs Lollapalooza, said in a statement this morning that it was "proud" of the Australian brand and that "we intend to bring back the festival in future years".

It would not say when nor commit to the same run of cities the Big Day Out (BDO) played to: Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, and Gold Coast.

On the phone from Los Angeles, Big Day Out New Zealand promoter Campbell Smith said he was gutted the music festival wouldn't be returning for 2015.

"We had a great show in New Zealand this year, I think we had the benefit of having a year off in 2013 and moving to a new venue [Western Springs]."

"It's mostly because the shows did not go well in Australia this year, so it's an opportunity for them to take a break and look at how they do things."

It was disappointing that New Zealand had to miss out because of failings over the ditch, he said.

"I'm absolutely gutted that we can't do one next year because this year we really showed how important the Big Day Out is to New Zealanders."

He was sure it would be back. "I'm confident, I mean C3 are a large, well-regarded promoter and they love the Big Day Out, so I have no doubt they'll bring it back."

The venue had been on hold, and this had now been cancelled.

Smith said he didn't book any of the bands directly so did not know if any had been signed on to play.

He would not say when C3 told him the Big Day Out would be canned this year.

#BDONZ #westernsprings

 

— Campbell Smith (@smithitis) June 25, 2014

"The BDO had always been a great platform for NZ bands to play in a big festival environment. I loved it at Western Springs. It's a shame if it's all over forever, but I'm so glad we got to play it last year," said Phoenix Foundation front man Samuel Flynn-Scott.

C3 now wholly owns the BDO after Maddah's shares were transferred to the American company only nine months after Maddah took control of long-time co-owner Ken West's half of the business.

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A source claimed debts incurred in the disastrous event in Australia this year, which reportedly lost between $9 million and $12m, had not been paid.

It was marred by record-low crowds, alleged unpaid debts to contractors and unhappy punters. West's business partner Vivian Lees sold his half to C3 in 2011, marking the end of an era for the much-loved festival.

The Big Day Out was arguably the Australian music industry's equivalent of Vegemite. Maddah is understood to be now focusing on the Soundwave heavy rock festival, one of Australia's most successful in recent years, although in a further blow to the 41 year old music promoter, the hard rock Warped tour he brought to Australia will also not go ahead in 2014.

Dave Faulkner, from the Hoodoo Gurus, said the change to US ownership might not be all bad, as long as C3 did resurrect the event from 2016.

"It seemed that the AJ Maddah stewardship wasn't going so well," he said.

"The good thing is [American owners] can't take it away from Australia because the value they have is intrinsically here. China doesn't want the Big Day Out does it?

"Hopefully they will succeed and make a filthy big profit, because they will still be employing plenty of people here to run the shows. Running festivals is a rich-man's game. While they create kingdoms and make grand decisions we can only hope the little people still get some crumbs off the table."

The Big Day Out made a triumphant return to Auckland this year after it was cancelled in 2013 due to increasing costs and low ticket sales.

The event, playing at the new Western Springs venue, was praised by critics and fans.

The Big Day Out first came to New Zealand in 1994 and ran for 18 years at Mt Smart Stadium before the 2013 break.

Declining ticket-sale in 2012 meant the event was forced to downsize and headline act Kanye West was cancelled.

The festival brought big-name international artists to New Zealand including Pearl Jam, Metallica, Coldplay, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Foo Fighters and Marilyn Manson.

 

- Stuff

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