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Security not a factor in Hard L.A. cancellation, promoter says

July 13, 2010 | 11:01 am

In deciding to merge the July event with an August concert instead, Hard Events’ Gary Richards cites extra rules and costs created in the wake of a death after the Electric Daisy Carnival.


In the wake of controversy after the death of a 15-year-old girl at a rave held at the Los Angeles Coliseum on June 25, the annual Hard L.A. concert, scheduled to take place Saturday at downtown’s Los Angeles State Historic Park, was abruptly canceled Monday.

The concert was to feature beat-based acts including M.I.A., Die Antwoord, Flying Lotus, Sleigh Bells and others and was drawing extra scrutiny because of its location at the park, just east of Chinatown.

The cancellation arrived a week after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appointed a task force to “enhance rave safety” after Sasha Rodriguez died of a suspected drug overdose after attending the Electric Daisy Carnival. Establishment of the task force came after the Coliseum Commission announced a temporary ban on new contracts with rave operators as they review such events. 

Gary Richards, the promoter of Hard L.A., denied the cancellation was caused by the Coliseum incident but acknowledged that in the wake of Rodriguez’s death, city officials forced the producers to add “a lot of extra stipulations and requirements” that “resulted in unforeseen costs to the event.” He said his company, Hard Events, plans to go ahead with an Aug. 7 concert at the park and that some acts scheduled to appear Saturday would be shifted to the later event.

“I don't want anyone to think that this cancellation had anything to do with the events that occurred at Electric Daisy Carnival, because it didn't,” Richards said.

“We’ve been working with the city for months, and all our security plans were approved,” Richards said. “We just thought it would be better to put both events together. This didn’t have anything to do with security issues.”

Richards has long sought to distance himself from the notion that his events are raves, which are often associated with consumption of the drug Ecstasy. The Hard concerts feature live performances, while most raves are driven by DJs playing electronic dance music.

Official statements from Biz3, the event’s publicity team, cited “events beyond our control” as a reason for the cancellation but “not due to the lack of support or the full approval from the personnel at the city of Los Angeles and California State Parks who have signed off on our comprehensive security plan.”

Joel Bellman, a spokesman for Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s office, said he was unaware that Hard L.A. had been canceled.

“Zev has never said anything about rave-type events at any other venue other than the Coliseum,” Bellman said. Calls were deferred to the mayor’s office, which did not respond to requests for comment.

Fresh Squeezed, another L.A. electronic music festival planned for the city of Industry, was canceled on July 10 after difficulties securing a location and permits in light of the new public scrutiny. The summer’s other big electronica event, the Love Festival, is scheduled to take place at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, next to the Coliseum, on Aug. 21.

It was unclear how the call for a moratorium might affect that event, although a formal decision could be made as early as Friday, when the Coliseum Commission is slated to discuss the Love Festival’s fate.

Richards declined to comment on whether slow ticket sales influenced the cancellation. A number of major music acts have canceled scheduled dates this summer because of poor ticket sales. Last week, concert tracking website Pollstar announced that the summer concert season is down 17% from this time last year.

-- August Brown & Todd Martens

Note: Portions of this story appeared on Pop & Hiss yesterday. The version presented here is what was printed in Calendar for Tuesday, July 13.

Photo: M.I.A. at Coachella in 2009. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

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