Australia: Pill Testing At Canberra Fest, Kendrick Lamar Tickets, Gray And Barraclough Obits

Pill-Testing Trials At Canberra Festival

After two years of lobbying by drug-safety advocates and the music industry, the first official pill testing was conducted at a music festival in Australia. It was at the April 29 stop in Canberra by the touring Groovin’ The Moo festival.

Royal Blood
Scott Legato /
– Royal Blood
St. Andrews Hall, Detroit, Mich.

Of the 20,000 who attended the event on the grounds of the University of Canberra, featuring Royal Blood, Portugal. The Man and more, 128 brought in 85 samples of illicit drugs to be tested with an infrared spectrophotometer. Tests were by Safety Testing Advisory Service at Festival and Events (STA-SAFE).

STA-SAFE is made up of members of the Australian Drug Observatory, drug and alcohol treatment service for youth Noffs Foundation, DanceWize, Students for Sensible Drug Policies and Harm Reduction Australia.

It hailed the test a success, saying it prevented at least two possible fatal overdoses. Half the pills contained pure MDMA, other additives were lactose, sweetener and paint. But two samples had the toxic ephylone, which has caused multiple overdoses around the world.

The issue of legal liability caused the introduction of Australia’s tests to be delayed by three years. Authorities in New South Wales and Victoria rejected them as they would be seen as condoning illicit drug usage. The Australian Capital Territory however accepted it would reduce harm after a number of fatal overdoses at festivals around the country. The first test was to take place at the Spilt Music festival, also in Canberra, in late 2017. However, it was held on Federal government land, and tests opponents managed to shut it down.

This time around, the ACT government received approvals from the University of Canberra and the ACT police but tests almost stalled. Groovin’ The Moo promoter Cattleyard Promotions reportedly demanded indemnity from police action not only for the tests but any kind of drug possession or supply elsewhere on the site. This caused a stalemate until April 26 when an agreement was struck. But on the morning of April 29, independent lawyers were questioning the legal implication of a patron who had their pills tested but were arrested elsewhere on the site.

 Strong Start For Kendrick Lamar Tickets Down Under

Kendrick Lamar’s “Damn” dates in July through Live Nation had a strong charge out of the gate when tickets went to market April 30.

Kendrick Lamar
Joel C. Ryan / Invision / AP
– Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar appears to channel Michael Jackson during his performance at the Brit Awards at The O2 – London Feb. 21.

Lamar, who is headlining Splendour In the Grass in Byron Bay, initially announced four arenas July 10 – 24 in Australia and two in Auckland and Dunedin in New Zealand.

LN announced second shows for Melbourne and Sydney – respectively Rod Laver Arena July 14 and Qudos Bank Arena July 25 – when the cities sold out in less than an hour. The original Auckland show July 19 at Spark Arena sold out in 24 minutes; a second one also hit capacity in a similar time frame.

Kendrick was last in New Zealand as headliner of Auckland City Limits in 2016.

 Def Leppard, QOTSA, Vega Returning

More major drawcards are heading to Australia and New Zealand during the traditionally colder months.

Queens Of The Stone Age
Scott Legato /
– Queens Of The Stone Age
The Fillmore, Detroit, Mich.

Live Nation partners Def Leppard and Scorpions for six arena dates in the region Nov. 2-12.

Queens Of The Stone Age extend their “Villains World Tour” for Frontier Touring with nine stops Aug. 23 to Sept.12. Australian blues performer C.W. Stoneking opens on all dates.

Suzanne Vega’s anniversary tour to denote the releases of 1987’s Solitude Standing and 1992’s 99.9F° hits seven theatres July 27 to August 4.

TEG Dainty has European singer

Paul Gray, David Barraclough Die

Paul Gray in Sydney and David Barraclough in Auckland have both died of cancer.

Gray, 54, died after a four-year battle with myeloma April 24. He was frontman and songwriter with ‘80s funk rock band Wa Wa Nee, which had a series of hits through Sony Music. One of which, “Sugar Free,” reached the U.S. Top 40. He later became a music director for Human Nature, Tina Arena, and Kate Ceberano.

Barraclough, who died of pancreatic cancer April 26, was born in Queensland, Australia. He found fame as guitarist with New Zealand’s The Exponents between 1994 and 2000, and then bassist with Australia’s Mental As Anything 1999 and 2011 until forced to leave due to ill health.