What the Hell Happened to Punk Rock Picnic?

Categories: epic fails

punk rock picnic 2.jpg
John Gilhooley

While there's plenty to be happy about with this year's Ink-n-Iron lineup at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, the Weekly recently learned that another one of the ship's major festivals slated for spring has sunk. Last Thursday, Punk Rock Picnic was cancelled until further notice. The two-day festival, which already suffered the loss of it's previous headliners, Danzig and Gwar, was scheduled to feature over 60 bands on April 13th and 14th on the iconic Long Beach vessel. Now it appears that the future of the entire event is going down in flames due to a scheduling conflict with the city of Long Beach and an amateur event promoter who got in way over his head.

The day of the cancellation, promoter/organizer Steve Smith posted the news via Facebook and told his side of the story of why the event was cancelled.

"The City of Long Beach booked a drift race the same weekend that I was holding the Punk Rock Picnic," he writes. "It was going to be so loud that we wouldn't be able to hear the bands play, there was no overflow parking at the Pike, and they were going to charge me another $8000 to advertise so that people didn't confuse the car race with the Punk Rock Picnic. I totally got screwed."

The news came as a shock to many who had already purchased tickets when they went on sale several months ago. The average price per ticket ranged from $35 (one day) to $150 (Backstage, all access for both days).

Headliners of the event included English hardcore punk stalwarts Anti-Nowhere League (their only US tour date this year) and Houston legends D.R.I. Over the years, previous lineups have included the Dwarves, TSOL, the Dickies, Youth Brigade and more.

The event, which was held at Oak Canon Ranch last year (as wells Irvine's Hidden Valley Ranch in 2010 and 2011) has had its share of detractors since it started five years ago. An angry mob of bands and concert goers site Smith's mismanagement of the festival's organization and finances as the reason its been cancelled. There's even a Facebook group dedicated to boycotting the event riddled with harsh comments from bands and fans who say they've been ripped off by Smith.

The promoter on the other hand, claims to be the one getting the shaft. He says that the Queen Mary still has a hold of his $5,500 deposit and that one of the bands he booked still has his $2,000 deposit. Representatives for the docked luxury cruise liner say that it was Smith's choice to cancel the event after an agreement had been reached to use the venue, though they declined to comment further.

The Picnic was scheduled just days before the Long Beach Grand Prix, one of the biggest annual events in the city, which takes place April 19-21. Typically, the days leading up to the Grand Prix are packed with a number of affiliated events, including the drift race that the Long Beach City Council says would have a negative effect on Smith's event because of the extra noise factor. In fact, scheduling anything in downtown Long Beach in the heart of race car territory during GP season was probably Smith's first, second and third mistake as a promoter this year, though he says he was assured six months ago that no event would be held on the weekend of his festival.

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