Industry veteran Michael Chugg has weighed in on the immediate future of Australian festivals and gigs, labelling Splendour in the Grass’ intentions to hold their rescheduled event in October as “ambitious”.
Chugg’s comments appeared on the latest episode of The Briefing, a podcast hosted by former triple j Hack host Tom Tilley, and Herald Sun journalist Annika Smethurst. The episode, which specifically asked “Should you get a refund on your concert ticket?”, focused heavily on the impact of COVID-19 on live music, and how hard the music industry has been hit.
Speaking to Boy & Bear’s Dave Hosking regarding their future touring plans, the pair also welcomed Chugg to the fold. Having spent over 50 years in the industry, and founded the likes of the Frontier Touring Company and Michael Chugg Entertainment, Chugg touched on the tours he himself has been forced to postpone, labelling it the “biggest hit to the industry [he’s] ever seen”.
Having previously urged fans to hold on to any concert tickets they may have, rather than asking for a refund, Chugg and the hosts also discussed the notion of holding music festivals in the immediate future, especially given his claims that international artists may not be able to visit for a year.
Specifically discussing Splendour in the Grass, which in March pushed back its July event to October, Chugg noted that the organisers are “ambitious” in their plans.
“It’s a punt, they’re taking a punt,” he explained. “You know I don’t want to be negative towards Splendour or any of the festivals. We’d like to have a couple going on as well, but I think October is very ambitious.”
As he continued, Chugg questioned what the live music scene will look like in the aftermath of COVID-19, whether gigs will even be allowed to take place in larger arenas, and how gigs could look if no immediate vaccine is found for the virus.
“I think festivals can happen without an antidote,” Chugg began. “If they find a vaccine great, but I think if they do the testings right, I mean there’s going to be a lot of differences, there’s going to be a lot of barriers put in place, how close you can be to each other obviously.
“There’s going to be limited capacities, there’s going to be very careful health checks that’s gotta happen.”
Chugg’s comments coincided with a statement from Falls Festival organisers earlier today, who announced an all-Australian lineup for their 2020/21 event, echoing a prediction made by The Industry Observer recently.
“As Australia heads towards the recovery phase of COVID-19 we have decided to move forward with optimism, and work towards presenting our Dec 2020 / Jan 2021 event in a way that will best bolster Australia’s live music industry,” explained organisers Jess Ducrou and Paul Piticco.
“We have some of the most exciting acts in the world and this special “home grown” edition of Falls will ensure that money stays in our local economy, providing maximum financial benefit for the Australian music community – artists, management, crew, agents, roadies, production etc – as well as the thousands of contractors and suppliers who rely on our events for their income.”
Though the details regarding the upcoming edition of the Falls Festival have not been revealed as yet, Splendour in the Grass have not made any further statement regarding the status of its newly-rescheduled October edition.
With Australian producer Flume topping the lineup, along with US acts Tyler, The Creator and The Strokes, organisers have stated that the headliners are on track to play the rescheduled dates, though it remains to be seen whether international travel restrictions will allow them to perform at the festival.
Splendour in the Grass 2020
Flume (Only Aus show)
Tyler, The Creator (Only Aus show)
With more to be confirmed…
Friday, October 23rd – Sunday, October 25th
North Byron Parklands, Tweed Valley Way, Wooyung, NSW
More info: Splendour in the Grass