Soundwave/Harvest boss and “The Most Powerful Man Is Australian Music” AJ Maddah is set to become even more powerful, as Ken West today confirmed that the outspoken promoter will be joining the Big Day Out team, but not replacing West, as rumours suggested this week.
Long-serving Big Day Out promoter West issued a statement to Fairfax today, which read “I need everyone to calm down. The world is not collapsing. In short AJ is joining the BDO circus and I am staying. So the BDO team will now be C3, AJ Maddah and yours truly.” C3 Presents are the Texan company who put on US festival Lollapalooza, and who bought a major stake in the Big Day Out two years ago.
West’s statement contradicts his ex-Big Day Out partner Vivian Lees, who told triple j’s Hack program earlier this week that Maddah was buying out West’s share in the festival, and that West would no longer be involved. Lees told Hack that he wasn’t a fan of Maddah’s modus operandi, saying that the promoter “plays fast and loose”, “has no commitment [to Australian artists]”, and that he was “very concerned” for West and the Big Day Out.
West’s description of Maddah today as “a kindred spirit. Crazy in a good way…” is a far cry from the anti-Maddah comments he made in an interview with TheVine last year, when he labelled him a “financial anarchist” and said that “I don’t think AJ’s got any interest in anything but his own agenda”.
Maddah says West had approached him to become involved, and denies that he’s taking over the Big Day Out, calling himself “just one of a rather large team” on Twitter. He speculated about potential changes he would bring to the festival, telling Fairfax that he would “improve site design, add extra toilets and work on shortening queues for alcohol and food,” and that he would bring “a bit of energy and vitality” to the troubled festival, which in recent years “had gone so far away from where the event started”.
He also specifically addressed concerns that his tendency to book primarily overseas acts for Soundwave would impact future Big Day Out lineups.
“The percentage of Aussie bands at the Big Day Out will not change. There will be no change to the spirit of the Big Day Out. It’s Ken’s vision and I’m working for him. For 20 years it’s been my ambition to work for the Big Day Out”
“It’s been a great festival for 22 years. I don’t need to fuck with that.”
Maddah announced on Monday that Harvest, the sister festival to his mainstayer Soundwave, was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. Interestingly, Maddah blamed Big Day Out’s “top heavy, Harvest-centric lineup” as one reason for Harvest’s diminished ticket sales. Several artists scheduled to perform at Harvest will be coming out for tours in place of their festival performances, but headliners Massive Attack and Goldfrapp have confirmed that they will not be coming to Australia in the immediate future.
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