The Son Also Rises

Jesse Stoll, son of late Florida promoting icon Jon Stoll, is only one year out of college, but he’s following in his dad’s footsteps in a big way at AEG Live Southeast by spearheading the inaugural Dubfest in Hollywood, Fla.

Dubfest, a lifestyle and music festival scheduled to debut at the city’s ArtsPark Sept. 5, will feature 13-15 bands on two stages amid skateboard, skiing and other outdoor sports demonstrations, environmental exhibits and booths, and a “chill” area that takes advantage of a multimillion-dollar park upgrade that includes scenic waterfalls and landscaping.

“We really wanted to think of an event that embraces the culture and lifestyle that centers around the beach and relaxing and having fun in Florida,” Stoll told Pollstar. “Some of the bands that came out of the alternative reggae/ska scene like Sublime, Pepper and Slightly Stoopid have kind of found a home here and are the kind of bands we’re hoping to bring in.”

Stoll and AEG Live SE President John Valentino expect to make Dubfest an annual event and grow from an initial capacity of 7,500 to 8,000 fans.
“It’s not a huge site but we want to put the festival where it’s going to seem like it’s full,” Valentino told Pollstar. “We don’t want to go to a place that’s too big the first year. But with the circular shape [of the park], we were really drawn to this location.”

Festival features include five interactive “lands” – the Plaza, which runs through the middle of the park and offers food and other vendors; the Premiere mainstage; the Meadow, for skating and other demonstrations; the Grove, with a second stage where exhibitors will present educational displays on the environment; and Serenity, with “creative and sensory” areas for relaxation.

Among the artists confirmed for Dubfest are headliner Bunny Wailer, Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Authority Zero and Badfish, a Sublime tribute band.

Ticket prices are being kept low, with a full day of music and activity going for $35 in advance, $40 day of show. A VIP package is available for $125.
Jesse has gotten the total immersion treatment with AEG Live SE in less than a year and already talks in the vernacular of a seasoned veteran. He’s put his stamp on many of the promoter’s projects since then and he’ll also be heading to New Jersey this summer to work on All Points West.

“I’ve been working with colleges, taking things as they come along and going after them,” Stoll said. “The majority of projects I’m working on are long term. I like to see growth and build partnerships.

“There’s a lot of room left in Florida especially after the Live Nation deal happened with Fantasma. I think AEG and the power it brings, as a promoter of so many festivals around the country, creates a lot of room down here for a lot of long-term, trademark events be it Dubfest or others.

“I think Dubfest is going to be the most solid. We want to think of more events like this that are in it for the long run and brand ourselves down here.”

While Dubfest is hardly Stoll’s first dive into AEG Live’s South Florida promoting waters, it is his “baby” – and Valentino said the festival reflects the perspective he brings to the table, even though most of the staff worked with Jon Stoll at Fantasma over the years.

“Dubfest is Jesse’s creation. Sunfest, we all worked on. … It’s up there with a lot of the great festivals,” Valentino said. “But when Jesse came here straight out of college, his love was to create special events. Consider what a creative guy Jon was. When I started with Jon way back when, we were doing special events before anyone even knew what they were. We had the forerunners of a lot of events that are happening today.

“Jesse just has a lot of that juice and a lot of that creativity and he’s got a lot of great ideas. This is the first one that we’re working and following through on and we’ll have a lot more.”