The Pemberton Music Festival promised headliners such as Chance the Rapper, Muse and A Tribe Called Quest would perform in British Columbia, Canada, for four days of music in a beautiful natural setting. But those who planned to attend this event are not seeing anything beautiful these days.
On Thursday, May 18, the Pemberton Music Festival announced it had filed for bankruptcy and was canceling the festival. While this announcement disappointed fans, it paled in comparison to the news ticket holders might not receive refunds.
In the wake of the Fyre Festival’s three days of scandal in April and subsequent cancellation, Pemberton’s cancellation and iffy refund status brought anger to not only festival enthusiasts, but also industry figures such as Marc Geiger of William Morris Entertainment. This company’s roster includes such notable artists as Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and Arctic Monkeys.
In a recent Billboard article, Geiger stated he was “personally” going after organizers “to the full extent of the law.” Geiger included Huka Entertainment heads A.J. Niland and Evan Harrison on his hit list. Huka Entertainment was instrumental in the creation of the Hangout Music Festival as well as many other large music festivals, such as Tortuga Music Festival and Buku Music & Art Project. In addition, their Huka South division is responsible for bringing shows to local venues, such as The Steeple and the Saenger Theatre.
Lagniappe contacted Niland for comment on Pemberton’s cancellation and Geiger’s threats, as well as the future of Huka’s presence in Mobile. Concerning Pemberton, Niland directed Lagniappe to the statement posted on Huka Entertainment’s website, which expressed their disappointment and distanced the company from the decision to cancel the festival.
“For the past four years, Huka Entertainment has worked to create a one-of-a-kind experience in the most beautiful place on earth. We are heartbroken to see the 2017 Pemberton Music Festival canceled. As a contract producer, Huka did not make the decision to cancel the festival. That decision was made by the Pemberton Music Festival LP. We are extremely disappointed for our fans, artists and all of our partners who have supported the festival over the years.”
While Pemberton is far from the Gulf Coast, many local concert-goers may wonder about the status of upcoming Huka events in Mobile, which include the Legendary Coaches Tour (feat. Pat Dye and Gene Stallings) and JJ Grey & Mofro at The Steeple, as well as Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue at the Saenger.
Niland said he wanted to assure local concert-goers their issues with Pemberton would not affect Huka’s upcoming events in Mobile.
“As far as it [Pemberton fallout] affecting shows in Mobile, no, there is no effect,” Niland said. “That’s a separate line of our business.”