As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Southeast coast, it’s wreaking havoc with local promoters and concerts as the large and powerful storm heads for the Carolinas.
The center of the hurricane is expected to come ashore Friday somewhere near the North Carolina-South Carolina border, but wind gusts above 50 mph are already beginning to whip up on the North Carolina coast, according to updates Thursday morning from the National Hurricane Center.
The forecast for the hurricane’s path has changed during the last several days, making the decision on whether to call off events trickier for organizers, and a recent turn toward South Carolina has increased the number of inland areas there that could see substantial rain and wind. The storm is also expected to move slowly, increasing the chances for flooding.
Even now, as the storm approaches land, nearly all of the Carolinas have some chance of seeing strong winds and heavy rains from the storm, and postponements and cancellations began to pile up across the region earlier in the week.
J. Cole’s Dreamville Festival, which was scheduled to start Thursday at Dix Park in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C., was canceled “due to safety concerns,” according to organizers. Big Sean, SZA, Young Thug and Nelly were among those scheduled to perform.
Meanwhile, country music legend Alan Jackson called off his concert at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C., “in consideration of fans’ safety and that of the touring crew and venue staff,” while Jason Aldean called off his Thursday show at Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Center due to heavy rainfall in the Midwest predicted from the hurricane.
Comedian Steven Wright’s performance scheduled for Saturday at the McGlohon Theater in Charlotte, as well as the two-day Soul Junction Music Festival, slated for the city’s historic West End this weekend, were also postponed.
Among other events called off because of Florence:
• The Live Nation-promoted Zac Brown Band shows, scheduled for Thursday night at Charlotte’s PNC Music Pavilion, Friday at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, and Saturday at Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach. Local reports said that those shows would not be rescheduled and that refunds would be made available.
• Live Nation postponed a “4U: A Symphonic Celebration of Prince” show booked for Thursday at Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh.
• A Five for Fighting concert at McGlohon in Charlotte on Saturday was canceled.
• Comic Bill Burrs postponed a performance at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Va., from Friday to Sept. 21.
In addition to concerts, several major college football games have been postponed or moved.
Both major concert promoters, Live Nation and AEG, should be carrying “event cancelation” insurance, according to Paul Bassman, a former manager of bands like Drowning Pool and Flickerstick, who left the music business to found the Texas-based Ascend Insurance Brokerage, which has provided similar policies for major festivals such as Pitchfork, Kaaboo, Bottlerock and Life Is Beautiful, among others.
“This indemnifies the promoters for any money lost through adverse weather that makes it unsafe to hold the event,” he explains, of the policy with a premium between “1 and 1.25%” of the overall budget to put the event on, including refunds to ticketholders and a reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses. There’s a cheaper policy just to insure the expenses being incurred for a postponed or canceled event.
A Live Nation spokesperson commented that the company is dealing with the shows “on a case-by-case basis,” adding, “Most of the time , the individual bands will issue reports of cancellations.”