Music festivals are a tough racket, and as conventional wisdom has it, they must incur serious financial losses before they reach a plane of success and longevity. As such, it should go without saying that when festivals don’t rake in the ideal numbers, many organizers and/or their financial backers get cold feet and abandon ship without seeing the forest for the trees.
That’s the story of many festivals. Some, however, never see another year because of just how disastrous the inaugural runs are, and these are the festivals that frequently get comparisons to Fyre Festival.
We’d like to think that the festival bubble’s burst in the 2010s was so violent that fewer people even fancy the idea of taking a crack at a new one, but apparently, that wasn’t the case. Some organizers had to learn this lesson the hard way, and below are five examples that North Texans bore witness to.
Suburbia Music Festival
Back in 2014, officials from the City of Plano were starry-eyed at the prospect of their fair community becoming a festival destination, and forked over serious money to a large promoter to make that dream a reality. Turns out, it was all for nothing, because even though Live Nation brought A-list talent such as David Guetta, Twenty One Pilots and J. Cole, Suburbia Music Festival yielded a turnout of 20,000, a modest number for a festival of this scale. You’d think with the resources and expertise of the country’s largest concert promoter that they’d look at the big picture, but nah. They packed up and left after the initial launch failed. Afterward, Plano tried to resuscitate the event, but no dice. The suburbs are domed to be uncool.
Dallas Music District Festival
In fairness to the organizers of 2015’s Dallas Music District Festival, an act of God did force them to relocate the festival to a private lot in Trinity Groves. That transition couldn’t have been easy. Even worse is that attendance plummeted far below expectations. We don’t have the figures on the projected attendance, but we do know that it fell short since no promoter in their right mind would project a turnout of 50 people. As crazy as that prediction would have been, it would have nonetheless been accurate.
In 2016, a Denton festival called “Regardlessfest” drew considerable attention upon announcing Young Thug as a headliner. There was just one problem, though (actually, there were many, but this was the big kahuna): the promoters kept changing the location, leading them to host the event at a ranch in Krum. People gawked at the ridiculous nature of Young Thug playing a show in Krum, and the city of Krum’s dog whistle racism went on full display as the Krum Police Department issued a statement, saying there will be “EXTREMELY HEAVY police presence” (their capitalization, not ours). To the surprise of absolutely no one, Thugger didn’t show up, so local hip-hop artists played to a crowd of about 1,000 people in a barn. At least the show went on.
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Starfest Music Festival
There’s an interesting succession going on here, no? The previous festivals happened in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively, and the Starfest Music Festival “happened” in 2017. The reason for the quotations is because the festival itself didn’t happen. The real festival was to be in the way of friends we made along the way as we clowned on the promoters for trying to make a Lil Wayne-headlined “pop-up festival” work in less than two months’ notice.
It would have been nice to get down to Flo Rida performing “Low” at Starfest, but thankfully, the Jerry Jones-partnered venture KAABOO Texas booked him, along with other hitmakers of yesteryear. It was actually a decent festival that ran smoothly — organizers truly fulfilled their promises in making it a “luxury event,” and logistical hiccups were scarce. Plus, it was a good outlet to let out your nostalgia, with acts like Ludacris, Alanis Morrisette, Black Eyed Peas and The Killers performing. So why did promoters throw in the towel? Well, according to Billboard, “KAABOO Texas lost millions more than organizers had forecast, according to an investor update obtained by Billboard sent to KAABOO shareholders on Oct. 11.” We can't wait for 2020's version of Fyre Fest.