Citing low ticket sales, Rock the Bells Festival producer Guerilla Union has abruptly canceled this weekend’s Washington, DC festival as well as the Oct. 4-5 New York City concert. Full refunds will be honored at the location where fans purchased their tickets.
“It’s extremely unfortunate that we can’t complete the last half of the 10th Anniversary Rock the Bells tour,” Chang Weisberg, founder and owner of Guerilla Union, said in a statement. “We did everything in our power to save the show. Unfortunately, the financial loss would have been devastating. I am truly sorry we could not produce the show for all the fans who did buy their ticket in support of.”
Rock the Bells festivals took place as scheduled in San Bernardino, Calif. and the San Francisco Bay Area. The concerts featured a bevy of hip-hop’s veteran and up-and-coming talents as well as special programming. A hologram-like projection of Ol’ Dirty Bastard honored the late Wu-Tang Clan member during his set, while a hologrammed Eazy-E joined all five members of Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony for their performance.
“I, along with our staff, the artists, and all of the sponsors, media partners, local promoters, and radio stations involved are thankful for our supporters and the fans that planned on attending,” Weisberg said.
Guerilla Union has produced Rock the Bells since 2003, with the first show taking place in a club venue on Hollywood Boulevard. The festival then expanded, relocating to San Bernardino, a city about 75 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. It became an annual ritual for upwards of 20,000-30,000 hip-hop fans to drive to the remote location to catch their favorite rappers.
In 2008, after several years of successful shows and additional corporate and private sponsorship, Rock the Bells expanded to eight total markets, including Canadian and European cities. The explosive growth wouldn’t last, and the economic downturn led Guerilla Union to scale back to four U.S. cities, as the promoter changed the festival from a Sunday affair to a Saturday-Sunday concert a la Coachella.
Although Rock the Bells is its flagship event, Guerilla Union produces various other concerts throughout the year with many of the acts who perform on Rock the Bells. Legendary emcee Nas, who wasn’t on the bill this year, is a partner in the company.
Weisberg hasn’t announced whether Rock the Bells would return to the east coast in 2014.