The aftermath of the faux-luxury-island-getaway-fest Fyre Festival is still unfolding. Two attendees won $5 million settlements for their suffering. Founder Billy McFarland pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud earlier this year and recently had his bail revoked. Now, over a year after Fyre, another “fraud” music festival called “XO Music Festival” has been cancelled after similar accusations about the festival’s illegitimacy.
Several artists who were scheduled to perform dropped out of the lineup due to missing payment and suspiciously empty fairgrounds just days before the event. The festival was supposed to happen this weekend in Antioch, California with over 100 artists performing across seven stages. Organizers teased attractions like foam pits, an indoor skating rink, and an “interactive bounce arena.” On Wednesday, the festival’s venue Contra Costa Event Park released a statement canceling the festival “due to the promoters’ lack of fulfilling contractual obligations.”
Jim Hudson of Country Music Management, who booked one of his artists to play the festival, told Rolling Stone, “Things didn’t add up. It was fraud from the start. I’m a retired cop and I try to do a bit of background on people before booking Madison, and it’s been nonstop issues, nonstop red flags.” Apparently, they changed the festival’s name from “XOXO Festival” to “XO Music Festival” after getting infringement claims from another festival.
Another red flag: festival promoter Sami Habib was recently arrested for a real estate scam. Several artists’ managers, including Hudson, raised concern when they cancelled their artists’ performances and XO didn’t remove their names from the lineup. Dangermaker’s manager Adam Brooks echoed Hudson’s claims, telling Rolling Stone that XO gave them “no compensation,” “no contract, no details.” Artist vendor Tony B. Conscious told KQED that XO organizers claimed that vendors made $12,000 from booths last year, but there was no festival in 2017.
Months prior to the cancellation, XO organizers called suspicion around the event “fake media.” They posted on the XO Festival Instagram page, “Regardless of all the fake media. We are still planning our festival. The media is trying to cause issues for us for no apparent reason. We have worked to hard! Stay tuned. Thank you.” According to Rolling Stone, that same day, organizers told artists that the event would be cancelled because “ticket sales [were] below the level needed to proceed” and “the fact that there were some negative media reports targeting [them].” They shared a similarly-worded statement on the festival website yesterday, announcing that the event will be “postponed to another time to be announced at a future date.”
Tickets cost anywhere from $375 to $2,495. It is unclear whether the tickets will be refunded. Contra Costa’s CEO Joe Brengle released a statement saying Habib and World Class Entertainment Inc. will be handling refund requests. The lineup included Ludacris, Vanilla Ice, T.I., and Biz Markie.