'All [we've] done is kiss [Blur's] ass'
A Big Day Out music festival investor and promoter has hit back at Britpop band Blur for pulling out of the event with just eight weeks to go, taking to Twitter to express his anger at the shock decision claiming "all everyone here has done is kiss [Blur's] ass".
The pioneering Britpop band posted a statement on their Facebook page on Sunday confirming the withdrawal and claiming they had "done our very best to work with the organisers ... but they have let us down".
However, Soundwave promoter AJ Maddah - who invested in Big Day Out in September just days after cancelling one of his own national festivals, Harvest - said organisers had been blindsided by the decision.
"Everyone at BDO is absolutely devastated and confused," Maddah tweeted.
"I've been around for a month [with the BDO] and in that time all I've seen is everyone trying to keep them happy ... Far as I know BDO gave into every demand within the possibility of curfews & public safety."
Maddah tweeted that the only request the organisers had turned down was Blur's apparent request to "swap positions with Arcade Fire" on the official poster and bill. Big Day Out organisers were building Blur their own stage for the tour.
New Zealand Big Day Out organisers said in a message on Facebook today, that they were disappointed to learn of Blur's cancellation via their Facebook page yesterday morning.
"We are working on replacements and will bring you new additions to the Big Day Out lineup shortly."
Blur, fronted by Damon Albarn, were set to be one of the headline acts at next year's festival along with Snoop Lion (formerly known as Snoop Dogg), Pearl Jam and Arcade Fire.
Blur, who battled Oasis for pop supremacy in the mid-1990s, yesterday posted on their Facebook page they were "devastated to report" that they had pulled out.
"It's a shock that it has come to this," the band wrote.
The Big Day Out, which has recently been be-devilled by organisational problems and last year cancelled its Auckland leg due to poor ticket sales, came in for criticism from the band.
"Only 8 weeks to go, the band feels that with the constantly shifting goalposts and challenging conditions of the organisers, they can't let it drag on any longer and want to make this announcement, to be clear to Blur fans that they won't be there."
"We've done our very best to work with the organisers and considered every option to make it happen, but they've let us down and let everyone else down too."
The announcement appears to have taken Big Day Out Auckland organiser Campbell Smith by surprise who tweeted: "The Blur announcement a total surprise to me. I had no idea. As soon as I find out what happened and what will happen, I will advise."
The shock news creates huge headaches for organisers, who are faced with the unlikely prospect of replacing its big-name act only eight weeks out from the festival.
The BDO is due to begin in Auckland on January 17, then tour the Gold Coast on January 19, Melbourne on January 24, Sydney January 26, Adelaide January 31 and Perth on February 2.
Music industry sources say the reasons for Blur dropping out only a few months before the Big Day Out tour are almost certainly financial.
Most international headlining bands would be paid a sizable deposit before the festival tour begins.
Sources also said Blur not getting any Big Day Out sideshows - worth an estimated $5 million - would have influenced their decision.
"If the band can't get that money on top of the festival shows maybe they made the call to not bother," a source told Fairfax.
"But if you put a Blur sideshow on sale when the Big Day Out is limping - you will stop any Blur fan from attending BDO most likely."
Big Day Out organisers were building Blur their own stage for the tour.
According to a Fairfax Media source: "The only thing that would stop [a cancellation] is if it is more expensive to cancel it than to run it at a big loss due to non-refundable deposits on hire, facilities, bands, and equipment".
In September, Soundwave promoter AJ Maddah cancelled one of his own national festivals, Harvest, then within days he bought a share of the Big Day Out.
Big Day Out co-founder Vivian Lees left the organisation in 2011. The Big Day Out is now part-owned by Texan music company C3, which also runs the US rock festival Lollapalooza.
Australian co-founder Ken West, sources said, was also no longer involved day to day.
Who would you like to see replacing Blur?