OCEAN CITY – The much-anticipated High Tide Music Festival has been postponed for the second year in a row and has taken a turn toward boot stomping versus fist pumping.
After an update on the scheduled High Tide Music Festival for this summer was postponed twice, Tom Russell of Founders Entertainment was present for this week’s Mayor and City Council meeting asking for the event to be postponed for another year.
When the music festival was first proposed in October of 2011, it was to be a rock event held in June of last summer, targeting talent such as Paul Simon, Tom Petty, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mumford and Sons, Florence & The Machine, Adele and more.
When Russell returned to the council last March, he asked for the event to be postponed to the 2013 summer due to the unavailability of the high level talent targeted for the music festival.
“We have been trying incredibly hard to make the event happen for 2013 and it is with regret that I am here to ask for another extension to move the event date to 2014,” Russell said this week.
Russell explained that in the past year a major competitor popped up in the market place, Firefly Music Festival put on by Red Frog Events in Dover last July, featuring The Killers, The Black Keys and Jack White.
“They certainly have a good amount of funding and they came out of the gate swinging this year, and had a pretty successful first-year event,” Russell said. “It had the same exact format that we were trying to do here.”
“Obviously when you have such a large competitor in your market place it is a cause for concern,” Russell said. “We did not think that going the same route and going head-to-head with them was a smart business decision, nor did we think it would reflect well on the Town of Ocean City.”
That is when Founders Entertainment decided to partner with artist management company, Star Hill Presents, to come up with a new idea.
“We thought to ourselves how we are going to make the event different so that it has a high likelihood of success, so that it reflects well on the town, and that everybody would be happy, and one of the things we came up with was a new music festival format, one that focuses on country music,” Russell said.
Russell would not release the names of the targeted country acts but said they are major music headliners who would be seen playing in arenas in Baltimore or Philadelphia.
Russell’s original request a few weeks ago was to change the music festival from a two-day event to three days starting on Friday, May 31 and running through June 2, 2013 and to extend concert hours to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and to extend Sunday hours to 10:30 p.m. The same request stood this week except the dates will now be May 30-June 1, 2014.
“The reason why we are looking at doing a three-day event now is really because the cost of doing a two-day event is so much, adding a third day is really not that much of an additional cost … we think it adds more value to the ticket price and also gets people here, in hotel rooms, to enjoy the beach, enjoy the city, and get a feel for Ocean City,” he said.
Russell added the request for the push back in curfew is because headline talents who usually perform in arenas and stadiums rely on a laser light and video show and utter darkness is necessary.
“Artists care about this incredibly and we think it will add to the festival as a whole and also to the individual performances,’ he said. “It will still leave people plenty of time after the event to exit the festival gates, go to the local businesses around the proposed festival site, consume and have fun.”
When the festival was originally proposed it also included three stages, but now has a two-stage set up on the beach. The site capacity will be up to 35,000 a day with an estimated attendance of 20,000-25,000 per day.
The layout of the event includes space for a number of local vendors and concessions, including food and beverages.
Councilwoman Margaret Pillas was pleased to hear the local vendors will be included but was concerned over having the event set-up on the beach during the night hours and possibly disturbing those who are staying in nearby accommodations.
Russell reassured the council that all plans include minimizing noise at night as much as possible.
“We are putting together a production schedule that will show everybody what we plan on building and when, so everybody can get a full page of what’s going on … nobody likes being kept up at night,” he said.
Russell added the company will reach out to all nearby accommodations with a full plan so that they can let potential visitors know of the activity during their intended time of stay.
“This will be a great event, but this is your second request for changing the dates … and you’re going from rock to country,” Councilman Brent Ashley said, asking what the chance would be for another change to take place.
Russell responded by nature and trade he is not a country music promoter. Founders Entertainment focuses on contemporary and eclectic, and those genres of music take at least six months in advance to book a band compared to country music where acts are booked at least a year in advance.
“Country is such a different beast and now we have ample time,” he said. “We have already talked to a lot of different artists and agents about this.”
The council voted unanimously to approve the date hold request for 2014.