Roxodus: What the hell went wrong?
First of all, I’m just as surprised as you are. Totally blindsided, actually. I’ve haven’t said anything until now because I’ve spent the last 36 hours making calls and trying to find out what’s happening.
Second, full disclosure: I’d been contracted to be Roxodus’ media spokesperson and to be the stage MC for the weekend. I only accepted the gig after meeting the team behind the festival. Trust me when I say that they ticked all the right boxes when it came to organization, finances, and their overall vision for the festival.
But the thing that sold me on these guys was the fact that they paid all their acts upfront, artists who were represented by some of the most powerful agents and managers in show business like CAA and William Morris. They must have done their due diligence, right?
And we’re not dealing with just one or two big acts. Aerosmith. Kid Rock. Nickelback. Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick, Matt Good, Big Wreck and a dozen more acts were all legitimately signed up. All the announced acts were 100% confirmed and ready to play.
Most of my spokesperson work was done early on when Roxodus was first announced: print, radio, TV–that sort of thing. Any invoices I filed were paid immediately.
But then in late March, I was hit with some never-ending health issues that required surgery and a hospital stay, putting me on the DL for weeks for a number of projects, including Roxodus. Then I had a long speaking tour which took me away for a for much of June. But there were updates and emails and phone calls throughout the spring. All along there were no red flags that I could see.
Roxodus had a big presence at Canadian Music Week. Roxodus was buying advertising time with radio. Stations were giving away Roxodus passes with contests. Reverbnation.com had been contracted to provide up-and-coming bands for one of the secondary stages. The Roxodus street team was scene around Toronto. Happy stories appeared in the media. All good, right?
The last time I met Mike, one of the two principal organizers, was on June 11 at a Roxodus pre-party in Toronto. When I asked how things were going, he said things were good, that advance tickets sales were good, and that the preparation of the site at Edenvale Airport was going well. He seemed very confident, I left with no reason to think that the festival would not go ahead as scheduled.
So what happened during those three weeks between June 11 and July 2? No clue. None.
The first clue that something was amiss were some unanswered emails to the organizers just before the long weekend. I did manage to connect with one person at MFLive (that’s the promotion company behind Roxodus) who promised to call me back but never did. Another call to Mike went unanswered. The same was happening to other subcontractors.
Meanwhile, rumours started to swirl that the festival was in jeopardy. That ticket sales were below expectations. There were stories about how the site at Edenvale was nowhere near ready. That it was being moved to Burl’s Creek. That production crews were being turned around and told to go home. That it was being canceled.
On the radio sponsorship/promotion side, Stations began to get suspicious that all was not right with Roxodus. MFLive canceled things like site checks. No further advertising time was being purchased. Communications stopped. Something was definitely weird.
Then on Wednesday morning (July 3), the official word came down:
Due to heavy rains in the Spring of 2019 the property at Edenvale Airport, Clearview Township will not be ready in time to accommodate large crowds and performance stages for the Roxodus Music Festival that was scheduled for July 11 – July 14, 2019.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the cancellation of Roxodus Music Festival this year.” said Fab Loranger, Principal at MF Live Inc. “Our team has worked tirelessly to find a solution in which the show can go on but unfortunately we could not make it happen this year. Our dream of producing a ‘once in a lifetime experience’ has been put on hold as we take the time to nurture our venue. We sincerely thank all of our artists, sponsors, partners, and neighbours who have supported us from the very beginning. The embrace from our community has meant the world to us and we hope to one day see our dream come to life.”
Producers of the Festival wish to thank the community and Township of Clearview for its tremendous support over the past year.
Information about ticket refunds will be released shortly.
People were quick to point out that it hasn’t rained in Clearview Township in days. Were site preparations really that far behind? Were there other circumstances leading to the cancellation? Again, no clue.
To repeat, I’m in the dark as much as anyone right now. And until MFLive gives us more information, me and a lot of other people (not to mention thousands of festival-goers) are going to be asking some tough questions. How could this possibly happen?