Sonisphere Cancels UK 2015

The UK’s Sonisphere is the latest hard rock fest to cancel this year’s edition because of problems getting headliners.  

A note on the Kilimanjaro Live-produced festival’s website said it no longer had “irons in the fire” as far as attracting the top rock and metal acts. Sonisphere is still scheduled to happen in Switzerland (headlined by Muse) and Italy this summer. 

Last year’s UK edition had MetallicaIron MaidenThe ProdigyAlice In ChainsMastodon, and Slayer, among headliners.  It was the 40th anniversary of gigs first staged at the Knebworth House site in Hertfordshire.

Kilimanjaro said it did 50,000 per day, although maybe not enough for what in 2009 was launched as a traveling global festival brand. The festival did make life a little more difficult for Live Nation’s Download Festival to dominate the UK metal market, as John Probyn – LN’s UK chief ops officer – admitted in a panel at Eurosonic-Noorderslag Jan. 16.

“Sonisphere happened again,” he said, when listing the contributory factors to Download not doing so well in 2014. Sonisphere missed the UK in 2012 and didn’t happen at all in 2013, on both occasions citing lack of headliners. “We’ve said in the past that Sonisphere will only go ahead if we feel it is going to be good enough and that hasn’t changed,” explained the website posting announcing this year’s cancellation. A month before last year’s Sonisphere, Kilimanjaro chief Stuart Galbraith sold the majority of the company to Peter Schwenkow’s DEAG.

He’s now involved in producing the German firm’s “Der Ring – Green Hell Rock,” which has taken the longtime site of Marek Lieberberg’s “Rock am Ring” on the country’s F1 race track at the Nürburgring. DEAG’s also running a rash of European rock fests including “Rockavaria” in the Munich Olympiapark (May 29-31), “Rock in Vienna” (June 4-6), and “Rock the Ring” (June 19-21), a festival it already runs in Zurich.

Apart from Sonisphere, the second edition of Spanish promoter Doctor Music’s Barcelona Metal Festival (June 13) has also canceled because it can’t get the right acts. The announcement blamed “[the] development across Europe of festivals of this genre, increases in the fees of many bands and the fact that Spain has the highest rate of VAT in Europe on ticket prices (21 percent) – together with PRS rate still at 10 percent of the gross.”

Doctor Music says that means its offers were not sufficiently attractive for the relevant artists it wanted for the festival. In October Sweden Rock told its fans not to expect heavyweight bill-toppers because it wasn’t sure the top acts would be available at a sensible price. Although he had a larger-than-usual talent budget at his disposal, festival chief Ingolf Persson said he’d spend the money by strengthening the entire bill.

“Recently we have had KISSRush and Black Sabbath, but next year there aren’t really any huge acts around during our period,” he told Pollstar.