Live Nation V. Charlies In Philly

While it appeared the City of Brotherly Love was going to be a battleground between two major promoters for the right to stage a three-day "destination" festival in Philadelphia, a local commission has instead postponed the question of "who" to first consider the "why."

A hearing of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park Commission November 14th didn’t even get around to discussing which of the proposals, from Austin-based C3 Presents or Live Nation, it might favor.

C3 Presents might have seemed to have a leg up by virtue of being first out of the gate with a proposal and its track record for staging such events as Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits Music & Arts Festival. But Live Nation can’t be overlooked – especially with its Philly office headed up by a local legend, Electric Factory Concerts founder Larry Magid.

But that will have to wait, thanks to a vote by the commission to bring the competing promoters back for a closed meeting the following week, to be followed with a public session either at the end of the month or in early December, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

C3 and its "three Charlies" – Charles Attal, Charlie Jones and Charlie Walker – have proposed an event over three days in August at Belmont Plateau, bringing some of the same acts from their Chicago Lollapalooza festival. Magid countered with a similar proposal, staged outside the Mann Center for the Performing Arts.

The commission’s postponement also came a week after a war of words in the local media since the C3 proposal came to light.

The Philadelphia Daily News first reported that Magid was "outraged" by the news that C3 was working to bring a huge festival to his turf. Columnist Dan Gross quoted unnamed sources that the longtime Philly promoter phoned C3 and said, "I will f*** you," and that "if you’re gonna come to my town, you’d better bring a gun."

Magid denied the accusation through a spokesman, telling Gross, "Nothing could be further from the truth." And he told the Inquirer, "That’s silly. I’m not going to get drawn into that." He didn’t respond to a request for comment from Pollstar.

Even if Magid didn’t say those exact words, it’s clear he’s not letting interlopers from Texas into his domain without a fight.

Gross reported for the Daily News that Magid’s longtime attorney, Alan Kessler, has been lobbying city officials to support his proposal. And it does appear some are already drawing lines in the sand.

A spokesman for Philadelphia Mayor John Street told the columnist, "Whichever proposal the city recommends will be the one we believe offers the best outcome and result for the city." But Gross reports that the city’s managing director’s office has already recommended the Live Nation bid to the park commission.

That could create a conflict for the Fairmount Park Conservancy, the park’s fund-raising wing, which already issued a press release stating a preference for the C3 bid, in part because of the company’s "experience producing multiday, multistage concerts."

The conservancy also said C3 was willing to pay all city-related expenses and contribute the higher of $500,000 or 7.5 percent of gross ticket sales to the group.

However, a "Philapalooza" would also be a very nice way for Magid to celebrate in 2008 the 40th anniversary of his founding of Electric Factory Concerts. And he reportedly had been looking into staging a festival of his own at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts when he learned of C3’s bid.

But both proposals have their share of opponents. David Baskin, chairman of the Philadelphia Folk Festival that also takes place in late August, said competition from such a festival "would put us out of business." Many other speakers questioned the city’s ability to handle traffic and crowd control.

C3’s Jones tried to reassure both commissioners and festival opponents at the hearing, according to the Inquirer. "Our business model is not to just put on a loud rock ‘n’ roll event and to make money," he was quoted saying, adding there would be "all kinds of music" for families.

"We’re more than confident we’ll make the city proud and the organizations that will be affected by this event happy that it’s here."