The 2017 edition of the Pemberton Music Festival has been cancelled, this following rumours on Reddit a good 12 hours before word exploded on Twitter this afternoon. Tickets purchased will not be refunded by the festival.
New Orleans-based Huka Entertainment first got involved in staging the multi-day music and comedy fest in 2014. In an email to the Straight it acknowledged the cancellation of the event, but suggested that the decision to cancel the show was not theirs.
A spokesman for Huka wrote:
"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 cancelled.
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."
Huka's attempts to distance itself from the cancellation of Pemberton seemed at odds with what was on the festival's web site earlier today. The fest was billed as "A WORLD-CLASS EXPERIENCE FROM HUKA.
Do a Web search for Pemberton Music Festival LP, and you'll discover that the company lists its legal address as 1835 Highway 99, Pemberton, V0N 2L0. The headquarters address is given as 924 Valmont, Suite 103, New Orleans, 70115. That's the address for Huka Entertainment in New Orleans.
Before the 2016 edition of Pemberton Music Festival, Village of Pemberton city council minutes state that Dave Buttery of Huka Entertainment appeared before council. Minutes state that "Mr. Buttery addressed a number of concerns and issues that have been raised as a result of the 2015 festival and outlined HUKA's plans to resolve these concerns."
Tickets were still being sold on the Pemberton Music Festival web site this morning. But the festival's site now contains nothing but a statement about the festival being in bankruptcy, and that tickets purchased will not be refunded.
On the Huka site Pemberton was still being advertised earlier this afternoon. But an actual search for the event on the site lead to "We're sorry but we couldn't find any events for "Pemberton Music Festival."
Word first leaked of the festival's demise yesterday afternoon. A user going by the name of, ahem, SKY_RIM_JOB posted the following on Reddit: “I work for a company that has done rentals the past few years for the festival. My manager just informed me that we are not working the festival this year because it is being cancelled. Announcement will be made tomorrow.”
That was followed by a second post where, after suggestions that he was trolling people, SKY_RIM_JOB responded with, “My company was informed that the festival will be cancelled, not that we are not being hired.”
Mega-promoter Live Nation was the first company to stage a major event on the Pemberton site, with a massive three-day celebration in 2008, dubbed Pemberton Festival, featuring headliners Tom Petty, Nine Inch Nails, and Coldplay. While generally seen as a success by festivalgoers, the event was cancelled after its first year, the weekend marred by traffic problems, sanitation concerns, and delays getting on the site.
Huka—which specializes in running festivals in the States—arrived on the scene with the cheekily titled Pemberton Music Festival in 2014, at which point Live Nation was running its large-scale Squamish Valley Music Festival a couple of hours closer to Vancouver. Squamish Valley Music Festival was abruptly cancelled last year with little explanation.
The first three installments of Pemberton Music Festival featured an impressive mix of massive names (deadmau5, a reunited OutKast, Kendrick Lamar, and Nine Inch Nails) with hi-wattage critical favourites (Missy Elliott, Father John Misty, and Dan Mangan).
This year’s headliners were supposed to include Chance the Rapper, Muse, and A Tribe Called Quest, with the undercard featuring Run the Jewels, MGMT, Ween, Haim, and Future Islands.
As recently as yesterday afternoon Pemberton organizers were posting updates on their Twitter page, including the one below. Sometime between 3 and 4 p.m. this afternoon the Pemberton Music Festival account was deactivated.