Australasia News: Stray Kids Set Record, Pill Testing In Queensland, Bands Quit Bluesfest Over Booking; NZ: Cyclone Benefit Sells Out

2 AUS StrayKids
STRAY RECORDS South Korean boy group Stray Kids, shown here at the 2022 KBS Song Festival at Jamsil Arena in Seoul, broke records for K-pop attendance in Australia with a series of shows at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena and Melbourne’s Rod Laver Stadium. (Photo by The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images)


Stray Kids Set New K-Pop Attendance

Live Nation’s four Stray Kids’ “Maniac” shows at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena and Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena in February broke the record for most tickets sold by a K-pop boy band in Australia, with a total of 42,000.

They also played the most arena shows. Record holder BIG BANG previously played two nights at Qudos Bank Arena and one at Rod Laver Arena on their Live Nation-promoted 2015 visit.

“Live Nation is committed to the development of K-pop, not just within Australia but across the Asia Pacific,” said Yongbae Cho, managing director of LN Korea, citing BLACKPINK, BIG BANG, G-Dragon and GOT7 tours.

“The immense popularity of Stray Kids highlights the strong demand for K-pop in the market and the ever-growing fanbase of the genre in Australia.”

Pill Testing At Queensland Music Festivals

Queensland becomes the first Australian state to introduce pill testing at music festivals.
“We don’t want people ending up in our emergency departments or worse losing their life,” said the state’s health minister Yvette D’Ath.

Tests previously conducted in the Australian Capital Territory at the Spilt Milk and Groovin’ The Moo (GTM) festivals were in a legal grey area, and GTM stopped when refused insurance cover.

There were renewed calls for tests in New South Wales after a death and 12 hospitalizations at the Feb. 11 Transmission at Olympic Park.

Acts Quit Bluesfest After Controversial Booking

Bluesfest director Peter Noble remained defiant in the backlash to his addition of controversial Sydney band Sticky Fingers to the bill.

Band members’ indiscretions included a suspended jail sentence, a venue ban and a 2016 incident when singer Dylan Frost allegedly threatened singer Thelma Plum. Womens rights artists Jaguar Jonze and Camp Cope condemned their inclusion, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Sampa The Great pulled out of the Easter weekend festival.

Noble’s response was that Sticky Fingers had been incident-free the past seven years and he wanted to give them a second chance.

Acknowledging Frost is “a diagnosed bipolar schizophrenic … at what point are we going to show compassion and forgiveness through his efforts at growth?

“When do we forgive people with a mental health issue at attempting to move forward in life?”

New Theatres For Sydney’s Star

Sydney’s need for more major live performance venues will be alleviated by late 2025 with the New South Wales government approving two new venues to emerge from Star Entertainment Group’s 4,000-seat event center.

It will be converted to a two-level, 1,550-seat Broadway-style theatre and a 1,000-seat room for live music, comedy and cabaret.


Cyclone Relief Benefit Sells Out In Six Hours

An impromptu cyclone relief concert with Lorde, Neil Finn and L.A.B. at the Christchurch Town Hall sold out its 2,200 tickets in six hours.

The event took place Feb. 24, raising NZ$200,000 ($123,284) for the Red Cross NZ Disaster Fund.

Cyclone Gabrielle hit North Island Feb. 12, causing a national state of emergency with 11 dead, hundreds of homes destroyed, worsening the effect of earlier flooding, and disrupting concerts including those by Sting and Lorde.

The benefit was the initiative of Brent Eccles of Eccles Entertainment and Callam Mitchell of Team Event.

Like Lorde, many acts including Marlon Williams, Tiki Taane, Lee Matthews​ and Supergroove were already in Christchurch for Team Event’s sold-out Electric Avenue festival at Hagley Park.