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Never Say Never Fest ends for good amid controversy

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 8:51 AM PT
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The eighth (and apparently final) Never Say Never Fest took place last week, and it seems that things didn't go to smoothly. The roster for the Mission, Texas festival included Deftones, The Devil Wears Prada, Beartooth, and Miss May I, among many others. Sadly, poor attendence and technical problems seem to have marred the event.

Most notably, performers allege that they still haven't been paid. Speaking via his podcast, Matt Carter of Seattle band Emery says they were due to receive $5,000 for their performance, but left empty-handed. Carter said, "I knew stuff was getting fishy when I went to go get our check after the show, and the girl was in there... she said, 'Well, they had to settle merch first', which is a bad sign."

According to Carter, promoters eventually appeared and told the growing throng of angry tour managers that the money would be wired to them later. Carter added that he doesn't expect to ever get paid.

Essentially, Carter says, the math just didn't work out. He was told that 1,500 tickets were sold pre-sale, in addition to several hundred walk-up tickets. At $59 per general admission ticket (with a small portion being premium VIP tickets), the total take was still less than $100,000. Carter (loosely) estimates that Deftones were due to receive somewhere around $80,000 for their appearance, and with more than twenty other bands on the bill, in addition to significant production costs, it's not difficult to see why there wasn't nearly enough money to go around.

Promoter George Culberson had this to say to The Monitor: "It does look really bad, and I feel terrible about the whole situation, but this was the route we had to take in order to take care of everyone. This was the lowest attended and most expensive festival that we've had, and we have to wait for all the finances to come in."

Alex Gutzmer, photographer for the band and festival participant Ghost Key, painted a grim picture of the proceedings: "At festivals, it's pretty traditional that you arrive, you check in. And there was no check in. You get your pass laminate, your wristband your meal tickets, your buyout, and then you get your guarantee, then you stage plot, you sound check, you backline, and none of that happened. It was just ridiculous."

The Devil Wears Prada lighting designer Quinn Brabender was equally frustrated. Speaking via Facebook Brabender had this to say: "The house lighting designer was hired one day before the show. He had hands for 30 minutes before the crew ditched and one guy stayed til 5:30 am hooking it all up. House lights run off a laptop. We advanced a generator for our lighting power. Generator didn't show up til 6. We played at 7:45. Local crew could not take simple loading instructions. And to top it all off, the $$$. The fest is dead."

Launched in 2009, Never Say Never Fest has grown from one day to two days, and seen performances from such acts as Wiz Khalifa and Skrillex. But according to an update from the festival's Twitter account, this is the end. "Let's make the last one the best one," the Tweet read prior to the 2016 event.

"It just kept snowballing, and we wanted to see how big we could go before we had to slow it down," Culberson told The Monitor. "We went as far as we could, and now it's time for me to reassess my financial situation and see where we have to go from here."




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