Australian News 5/31

Splendour Sells Out Despite Snag

All 17,500 tickets to Byron Bay’s Splendour In The Grass (August 2-3) were snapped up in six and a half hours, but the festival had to endure a major online traffic jam on its ticketers’ servers.

Last year’s distributor OzTix experienced technical problems where fans would be accidentally bumped off the online queue after waiting for hours.

This year’s distributor Qjump faced problems when 70,000 people simultaneously logged on to its site.

"A number of people received bank error messages as they attempted to process payment," Neil Ackland from Qjump said.

While Secret Service and Village Sounds apologized, they still found reasons to be pleased, including a jump in green ticket sales and Qjump’s anti-scalping software stopping tickets from showing up on online auction sites.

Devo is headlining the event, which also features Wolfmother, Sigur Ros, The Living End, The Presets, Vampire Weekend, Ben Lee, Cold War Kids, The Fratellis, The Wombats, Pnau, Laura Marling, The Vines and Operator Please.


Harrison Estate Sues Island

The estate of George Harrison has gone to the Queensland Supreme Court in an action against the owners of Hamilton Island off the Queensland coast.

Earlier this year, property developer George Adams agreed to buy Harrison’s property on the island for $8.5 million. But Adams changed his mind because island owners the Oatleys have strict regulations about the kind of houses and trees allowed. Harrison’s estate is blaming the Oatleys for "unlawfully" withholding consent.

Harrison visited Australia often to watch the Formula One car races, but when the media discovered his picturesque hideaway, he never returned to it.


Serendipity Launches

New touring company Serendipity Entertainment launched itself with a party for 150 corporate and celeb types at the posh Nine Darling Street club in Melbourne’s South Yarra.

Its 25-year-old founder Craig McMahon, a former financial controller with a shipping company, told guests he had never promoted a tour before. But his first tour is with European classical singer Andrea Bocelli.

McMahon said one reason Bocelli and his management signed on was because they approved of his policy of having ties with charity. Five dollars from each Bocelli ticket sale will go to Asia Pacific Business Coalition Against AIDS.

General manager of the company is Kay Lawrence, who spent 15 years as GM of family entertainment producer Jonathan M. Shiff.

Associate Producer Jarrod Carland recently returned from New York, where he worked as associate to producer Mel Brooks and with Broadway producer Richard Frankel Productions.


City Riot In The U.K.

Adelaide band City Riot played two shows at the Great Escape festival in the U.K., attracting attention from music executives.

The young act caught the eye of the festival’s booker Martin Elbourne when he saw them play in Adelaide in March, where he was speaking at Fuse Festival.

City Riot soon learned about the rules of the road, in particular about booking hotels before arriving. They turned up in Brighton to find no rooms were available because of a local festival.

That night the band members slept in their four-door hatch, squeezed in between instruments and suitcases. One member slept under the car, clinging to the exhaust pipe for warmth.


Short Notes

Billions Australia is bringing back Seattle’s Death Cab for Cutie in August as part of the band’s worldwide tour behind its Narrow Stairs album. The act is set for four club dates August 17-22. Their 2006 Australian run sold out.

Janine Hall, best known for her bass playing with The Saints and Weddings Parties Anything, died May 21 in Melbourne. She arrived from New Zealand in the midst of punk madness. Weddings Parties Anything’s leader Michael Thomas remembers her as " an effervescent person who was inspiring in the way she saw music in conceptual terms."

Perth’s arson squad is looking through video footage as it investigates two explosive devices thrown into the Red Sea nightclub while it was closed. One set a barstool on the balcony on fire, but fire services brought it under control in less than 15 minutes. The incident caused $5,000 in damage.

Italian metalcore band Lacuna Coil canceled its Australian tour that was to kick off in Perth June 19 through KMW Productions.

The successful idea of a major newspaper giving away an album to its multi-million readers has arrived in Australia. The June 1 edition of the Sydney Sunday Telegraph gave away a live Whitlams album recorded with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to its 3 million readers.

The Wiggles’ fund-raising concert for UNICEF at the Sydney Entertainment Centre – where the group was joined by Jimmy Barnes, Damien Leith, Shannon Noll, Kate Ceberano and Leo Sayer – raised $110,000.

In another charity event, John Butler played to 600 guests at the Hyatt Regency in Perth as part of the hotel’s attempt to raise money for the victims of Cyclone Nargis in Burma. The night raised $150,000 for World Vision.