Hellfest Canceled Over Insurance Snafu

Two days before it was set to begin, officials at Trenton, N.J.’s Sovereign Bank Arena announced that the August 19-21 Hellfest – an annual metal and hardcore festival – was canceled because the promoters allegedly didn’t have the proper insurance to cover the event.

“The arena had to cancel the engagement contract with Paperstreet Music because they failed to remedy breaches of the contract and they were unable to meet their obligations,” arena GM Eric Cuthbertson told Pollstar. “As a result, we were forced to cancel their contract; thus, they had to cancel the event.”

Promoters also allegedly failed to provide a detailed security plan, which was a requirement of the festival’s lease agreement with the arena.

But Hellfest organizer Shawn Vander Poehl told The Trentonian the festival was covered with the same insurance policy it has used for the past five Hellfests and that the arena “found some loophole,” forcing him to pull the plug.

Not so, said Cuthbertson.

“The booking agent, the sound company, the caterer, the other booking agent – they called us and said, ‘Hey, what’s going on? We’re having problems with these guys, are you having problems with them?'” he explained. “We had been working with them for two weeks to get them to be in compliance with their engagement contract and they weren’t able to do that.”

The concert was to feature Public Enemy, Hatebreed, Killswitch Engage, Misfits as headliners, and more than 180 other punk, hardcore, hip-hop and metal groups.

A rep for Max Cruise Entertainment, which booked most of the acts, told The Trentonian that promoters had not paid scheduled advance deposits to many of the acts on the bill.

The deadline to pay was August 1st but the money never came.

In a statement on the Hellfest Web site, organizers said, “We send our deepest apologies out to the fans and everyone who was involved with the event and want you to be aware that legal action is being taken.”

Meanwhile, Cuthbertson said fans who purchased tickets through the arena have already been refunded. Concert-goers who purchased through other means, however, may have trouble getting their money back at this point.

“We don’t know whether there’s just a delay, but if anybody comes back and says, ‘Hey, I couldn’t get a refund to Hellfest,’ it’s not going to be because they purchased through an authorized arena ticket outlet,” he said.

Mitchell Peters