It’s over folks.
XO Fest has been canceled, officials with the Contra Costa Event Park announced in a press release Wednesday morning.
“Due to the promoters lack of fulfilling contractual obligations between the Contra Costa Event Park and World Class Entertainment, Event Park Management in the best interest and safety of our facility, event attendees and the City of Antioch have no choice but to cancel the XO Music Festival scheduled to take place at the Event Park July 12-15, 2018,” a statement from Event Park CEO Joe Brengle reads.
John Sloan with ticketing firm GrowTix told Amplify “we are refunding all ticket holders immediately. Funds were never distributed to the XO festival and held by us in case of cancellation.” Amplify can also confirm refunds were sent to ticket buyers — we bought two tickets and received a refund email about an hour after the event was canceled.
As of last night, nothing had been set up at the Contra Costa Event Park where the seven stage festival with foam pits, high-end food and wine and $2,500 VIP sections were supposed to be ready to go Friday for a three-day festival that includes Mistah F.A.B., Ludacris and T.I. The venue’s CEO Joe Brengle told KPIX reporter Joe Vazquez that “if we foresee that event is not taking place, we will start asking questions,” adding “If we feel this is not going to come together, we will put out a press release from the fairgrounds in regards to that.”
The board that governs the Contra Costa Event Park — part of the California fairgrounds network — is meeting tonight and while XO Fest is not on the agenda, it’s hard to imagine that it doesn’t come up. Members of the 23rd District Agricultural Association which governs the complex will likely ask Brengle some very pointed questions and get to the bottom of how the public was strung along for weeks about event.
I have no insights on what is happening in Antioch at this moment, but it probably goes something like this: the XO Festival organizers have likely come very close to running out of money. We know they’ve paid the full deposits for some artists (and snubbed many others), but without any new money coming in, it’s difficult to pay staging companies, food vendors and staffing companies that are essential to organizing an event of this size. Vendors are likely starting to resist the XO Festival folks, saying unless they get paid 100% upfront, they’re not setting up stages and building the infrastructure needed to house 10,000 people around the fairgrounds.
KQED reporter Nastia Voynovskaya found other troubling signs about XO Fest. In a post this morning, she wrote that San Francisco comedian Paco Romane had tweeted that he was never booked to play the festival, despite his image and bio appearing on the XO website. Another artist, rapper TroyLLF of San Francisco, was not only asked to perform for free but told his DJ “would have to purchase his own ticket despite being part of the performance,” according to the story.
It’s similar in a way to what happened in the final days of Fyre Festival where organizer Billy McFarland began running out of the $26 million he raised for investors and instead of trying to delay and cancel the event because of inadequate accommodations and basic life safety infrastructure, decided to stage it anyway because hell, “we’re gonna be legends!”
Billy is a legend and he’ll have plenty of time to think about those days in the Bahamas when he is sitting in a jail cell after pleading guilty to two counts of fraud and now facing a whole new set of charges allegedly committed while on pre-sentencing release.
As for XO Fest, organizers are also facing jail time for different reasons — allegedly participating in a real estate scam that ripped off Bay Area landlords. The festival’s problems have been well documented (here, here and here) and the event’s lame hype video didn’t do much to assure us that the event was actually going to happen.
As Mario “Mars” Delgado told KPIX’s Vazquez, “It could be a disaster or it could be somebody’s going to pull this off and it could be the biggest event that we’ve had here.”
Turns out it was neither — another canceled event that will be forgotten in a couple days and never mentioned again. At least no one got hurt.