Are the fans M.I.A., or just skeptical? Ticket sales for Hard L.A. said to be 'slow'
Another day, and more tales of a beleaguered concert season emerge. This time, its former teen sensations the Jonas Brothers, whose summer tour was shuffled to include more international dates, yet about a dozen fewer North American ones (the act's local appearance in Irvine was shifted from Sept. 23 to Sept. 19).
But there is one instance in which slow ticket sales might put the minds of local officials at ease. Ticket buys for M.I.A.'s headlining July 17 appearance at Hard L.A., slated for a 36-acre plot of land at the Los Angeles State Historic Park, which is just east of Chinatown, are trending far below the capacity of 25,000 people, according to event organizers.
The July 17 concert, also featuring noise act Sleigh Bells, African rap act Die Antwoord and hip-hop group N.E.R.D., is the city's first major electronic event to follow June's Electric Daisy Carnival. That two-day dance event drew 185,000 people to the Coliseum and adjoining Exposition Park but came under fire after reports of injuries and gate-crashing, as well as the tragic news that a 15-year-old girl died of a suspected drug overdose after attending the event. L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky went so far as to call for a rave moratorium.
The fallout, as noted in this weekend's Calendar, has brought heightened attention on Hard L.A.
"There's a concern, and I've heard from multiple agencies," said James Valdez, a state park ranger and the lead coordinator for events in the Los Angeles sector who will be overseeing Hard L.A. "Will we reevaluate our plans and logistics? Yes. In light of Electric Daisy, we will increase our numbers all the way around."
Cut from the story, however, was the off-handed comment from Valzez that "there may be more staff than people" at Hard L.A. Exaggeration or not, Gary Richards, a veteran dance music promoter who is hosting Hard L.A., noted in a separate interview that "we could use some more ticket sales."
Yet those nervous of a smaller-scale repeat of Electric Daisy's problems probably will welcome an under-attended event. Heading into the weekend, Valdez said Hard L.A. was on target to sell about 12,000 tickets, and the event is hoping ultimately to hit 15,000.
"We all had high and mighty dreams," Valdez said. "To be honest, ticket sales are slow right now. But high quality recreation is what we’re looking for. We’re not just another venue that’s looking to make money and run away. We care about what we do to the resources. We care about the grass. We care about the historical artifacts. If we don’t get a lot of people, but keep everyone safe, that’s a success to us."
Tickets for the multiact event start at $60, which is certainly reasonable for an all-day event. Yet there may be more factors than the economy causing fans to hesitate on springing for tickets. M.I.A.'s globally aware electronic landscapes are adventurous on record but sometimes disastrous live, as those who witnessed her 2009 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival set, which was light on tunes but heavy on air-raid sirens, can attest.
Richards has thrown several successful Hard events, as well as one that was shut down last summer at the Forum. A Hard-branded Halloween concert at the Shrine Auditorium in 2009 drew about 20,000 people, Richards said. Richards noted, however, that Hard L.A., with its emphasis on live acts over DJs, is "a different audience for us, compared to the show we had for Halloween."
-- Todd Martens
Photo: M.I.A. at Coachella in 2009. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times
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