The cancellation of the 2022 Voodoo Music + Arts Expertise stunned many followers.
Not Steve Rehage.
The Voodoo founder and minority proprietor says the pageant’s destiny was basically sealed 18 months in the past when he refused to promote his 49% stake to Reside Nation Leisure for lower than he thought it was price .
In keeping with Rehage, he was then informed that Reside Nation would not stage one other voodoo with out absolutely proudly owning it.
This ultimatum was delivered throughout a scheduled January 2021 name with Charlie Walker, co-founder of C3 Presents, the Austin-based Reside Nation affiliate that oversaw the Halloween weekend pageant within the metropolis park. from New Orleans since Rehage was ousted as a producer after the 2015 voodoo.
As Rehage first informed publicly to Alex Rawls from MySpiltMilk.comthen confirmed by textual content message with The Occasions-Picayune, Walker requested if Rehage was inquisitive about promoting his remaining share of Voodoo.
In response, Rehage steered that Reside Nation “make their greatest supply and embody an choice to buy beneath the phrases provided.”
The choice to purchase, he stated, was “instantly rejected they usually responded by asking me to supply a suitable quantity”.
Rehage offered an unbiased valuation of the pageant to justify its asking worth. Reside Nation, he stated, “didn’t agree with the evaluation.”
With that, the negotiations stopped.
The following cancellation of Voodoo 2021 was unsurprising: all main festivals in New Orleans took a 12 months off as a result of ongoing COVID pandemic.
However the June 10 announcement, after a 12 months of silence on social media, that voodoo would even be “taking a break” in 2022 got here as fairly a shock.
Reside Nation and C3 have stated virtually nothing about this newest cancellation. A spokesperson for C3 Presents declined to touch upon Rehage’s account of the 2021 name with Walker, or to make Walker or anybody else accessible for an interview.
In the meantime, the stalemate continues, and one in every of New Orleans’ iconic music festivals of the previous 20 years is on maintain, presumably completely.
An extended and noisy story
Rehage launched Voodoo at Metropolis Park’s Tad Gormley Stadium in 1999 as an eclectic, multi-stop pageant that includes main rock, rap and digital artists alongside native Louisiana artists.
Through the years it has moved to varied websites within the municipal park and has expanded to 3 days. The 2005 scrappy pageant, held simply two months after Hurricane Katrina with headliner 9 Inch Nails, occurred at a makeshift website in Riverview Park alongside the Mississippi River in downtown New -Orleans.
Voodoo headliners have included Metallica, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Rage In opposition to the Machine, Kendrick Lamar, KISS, the Treatment, Eminem, Neil Younger, Drake, Ozzy Osbourne, REM, Florence + the Machine, Outkast, Inexperienced Day , Skrillex, Snoop Dogg and the Black Keys.
In 2013, Rehage bought a 51% stake in Voodoo to Reside Nation, the world’s largest producer of leisure occasions. As a part of the deal, Rehage was named president of Reside Nation’s North American festivals division; he nonetheless ran Voodoo as properly.
In late 2014, Reside Nation acquired live performance promoter and pageant producer C3 Presents and C3’s pageant portfolio. They included the Austin Metropolis Limits Competition – held in mid-October, simply earlier than Voodoo – and the assorted Lollapaloozas held in Chicago and cities in South America and Europe.
Torrential rain flooded Metropolis Park pageant grounds throughout 2015 Voodoo; a complete day of the pageant was cancelled. Just a few weeks later, Rehage parted methods with Reside Nation. He was president of the festivals division – and would not be concerned within the manufacturing of Voodoo, though he nonetheless held a 49% stake.
Reside Nation has entrusted the day-to-day administration of Voodoo to C3 Presents. Voodoo 2016 featured The Weeknd, Device and Arcade Fireplace. Ticket gross sales have been robust as followers took benefit of latest flush bathrooms and different website enhancements.
The twentieth Anniversary Voodoo in 2018 featured Mumford & Sons, Travis Scott (a final minute alternative for the injured Infantile Gambino), Arctic Monkeys and Janelle Monae. The undercard included A Good Circle, Marilyn Manson, Modest Mouse, Third Eye Blind, the Revivalists, and a then little-known Lizzo.
In 2019, Weapons N’ Roses, Submit Malone, Beck, EDM star Bassnectar, American singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile and indie rock band The Nationwide topped an in any other case weak checklist.
Ticket gross sales for 2019, the final Voodoo earlier than the pandemic, have been down considerably from 2018.
Rehage watched the fluctuating fortunes of the pageant from behind the scenes.
“Voodoo’s twentieth anniversary in 2018 was one of many largest and most profitable festivals, even contemplating elevated bills and misplaced income alternatives as a result of inclement climate and lack of website infrastructure and drainage,” he stated through textual content message.
The 2019 pageant “was produced in a lot of the identical market and in excessive climate circumstances, with the other outcomes.”
The massive distinction, in his opinion, was “a big drop within the stage of reserved expertise”.
The dangerous enterprise of festivals
The last word aim of Reside Nation is to prepare a profitable pageant, that’s to say worthwhile. Attempting to purchase out Rehage was probably tied to that aim; paying him a proportion of Voodoo’s income impacts Reside Nation’s backside line.
Walker’s alleged ultimatum might be a troublesome negotiation method. Not internet hosting the pageant, in idea, diminishes the worth of Rehage’s minority stake, thereby giving Reside Nation extra clout and Rehage extra incentive to promote.
However different issues can also have factored into Reside Nation’s choice to place voodoo on ice. Continued COVID uncertainty and lingering inflation could make ticket gross sales tougher. In June, the Bonnaroo pageant, owned by Reside Nation in Tennessee, reportedly bought barely half of its 80,000 tickets.
The Day N Vegas hip-hop pageant, scheduled for Labor Day weekend in Las Vegas, was not too long ago canceled. Promoter Goldenvoice – a subsidiary of Reside Nation rival AEG Presents – blamed the cancellation on “a mix of logistical, scheduling and manufacturing points”. Nevertheless, slow ticket sales are suspected to be the real culprit.
The primary trace that Voodoo 2022 was in jeopardy got here in December, when followers who had renewed their 2020 and/or 2021 tickets in anticipation of utilizing them in 2022 acquired shock refunds. The official announcement of the cancellation got here six months later.
Not organizing a pageant will not be with out price. Metropolis Park acquired a $150,000 non-refundable deposit for the now canceled 2022 Voodoo, based on a supply accustomed to the park’s contract.
Rehage neither confirmed nor denied that determine, saying he “prefers to not touch upon the financials presently.”
Reside Nation nonetheless has a number of years left on its lease with Metropolis Park.
After that lease expires, would Rehage be inquisitive about beginning a brand new Halloween weekend pageant with out Reside Nation?
“My choice,” he wrote, “is for Reside Nation to proceed to spend money on voodoo and New Orleans.”