Festival Scrambles

A Lowell, Mass., city commission voted September 8th to keep the New England Punk, Goth & Metal Festival (NEPGM) out of the city’s LeLacheur Park, leaving event organizers scrambling to find a new venue for the October 1-2 fest.

Lowell’s Licence Commission unanimously denied the festival’s application, saying that NEPGM organizer/promoter Matthew Marchesi failed to clear numerous permit and insurance issues with the city, which owns the park, according to the Lowell Sun.

At press time, NEPGM was “feeling out” about 10 possible replacement venues and had already sold 1,100 tickets, according to Marchesi. The festival’s budget – which covered rental fees, insurance, tickets, sound and lights, band passes and advertising – was less than $20,000.

Marchesi said the city commission didn’t know the details of the planning and he expected them to vote against the inaugural two-day fest. Apparently, Marchesi spoke with a city special events coordinator who didn’t provide him with the proper instruction.

“The decision was already made before the hearing that they didn’t want it,” Marchesi told Pollstar. “I contacted who I thought would be the most beneficial person to speak with in City Hall … and he didn’t give me the right answers.”

City Manager John Cox attended the commission meeting to argue against Marchesi’s request to use LeLacheur Park, home of the Lowell Spinners minor-league baseball team.

Cox reportedly called off the festival when he read a front-page story about the event that said Marchesi hadn’t acquired the appropriate permits. He cited potential damage to the park, poor planning and concerns about the concert’s content.

“It’s not that we don’t want them in the city,” Cox told the Lowell Sun. “LeLacheur has never had a concert.”

The city manager added that someone like James Taylor would be a more appropriate entertainer for the venue.

Marchesi’s partner, Anderson Mar, took offense to that.

“Frankly, I feel that the decision was infused by music genre discrimination, as we evidenced in certain commentary such as ‘Someone like James Taylor would be more appropriate,'” Mar told Pollstar.

Walter Bayliss, chairman of the License Commission, denied that the decision was based on the type of music, saying, “This is about someone running off and not doing something through the proper channels,” The Boston Globe reported.

Approximately 40 bands were set to perform including Bella Morte, Trashlight Vision, Dr. Chud’s X-Ward, and Sardonica.

Mitchell Peters