Arts Desk

Chang Weisberg Explains What We Already Know About Rock the Bells’ Cancellation

Guerilla Union chief Chang Weisberg is finally talking about why his touring hip-hop festival Rock the Bells canceled two major dates in D.C. and New Jersey this fall, and his explanation is none too surprising.

"Ultimately, you know, we just didn't sell enough tickets," Weisberg says in a YouTube video posted on Saturday.

No kidding. That's what the California-based promotion company said in a press release it sent out two days before the festival was to take place at RFK Stadium in September.

Weisberg attributes the low ticket sales to a couple of factors, including an excess of competition in the hip-hop concert market at the time. "There's a lot of great shows that were out touring in our same time period. That could be a factor," he says. "The fact that Jay Z was on sale. The fact that Kanye was on sale. The fact that Drake was on sale."

He says the weekend-long concerts may have also just been too ambitious—aka costly. "Maybe on the East Coast we should have just done one day," he says.

On social media, hip-hop fans cited the festival's high ticket prices (many of them north of $100) for the damningly low sales, a factor that Weisberg considers, but ultimately defends. "I really feel that for the value of what you would go see—Drake, or Jay Z, or Kanye—our ticket prices were very similar, and you were getting Black Hippy and Wu-Tang and J. Cole and Wale and 40 or 50 other amazing acts and holograms." (Really? Did anyone buy tickets with holograms in mind?)

Weisberg doesn't say anything specific about a possible 2014 Rock the Bells stop here or anywhere else, but he says Guerilla Union is going "back to the drawing board" and re-evaluating what it can do differently in the future. If the tour is to return to D.C., maybe a tighter schedule in a smaller venue is in order. And please—no holograms.

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