Controversy in Bass Land: Artists are rightfully pulling out of Sound Haven for public safety reasons [Op/Ed]
All three Sound Haven headliners have effectively pulled out of the festival next month.
When Sound Haven Festival announced recently that their late July to early August event would still go on as planned, although with strict COVID-19 regulations, fans were beginning to breathe a sigh of relief. The organizers behind the event, Sacred Hive, stated they would be implementing social distancing through limited capacity, temperature checks, heavy sanitization, required face masks, and more. Yet, a series of recent tweets have revealed they don’t plan to take these measures as seriously as they originally let on.
Sound Haven is now taking a considerable amount of slack on the basis that holding their event is not only irresponsible, it is a downright liability and an unnecessary risk of human life. Regardless of the fact that Coronavirus infection rates are continuing to spike in response to many states loosening their regulations (e.g., opening bars and clubs), Sound Haven still went on to release the first phase of their lineup, featuring headliners in Jantsen, Shlump, and Thriftworks.
The festival, slated for July 30 through August 2 at Jaceland in Gruetli-Laager, Tennessee, then pulled back on their required masks precaution, stating that to do so would be unsafe to do so in high heat temperatures of summer.
Upon further investigation online, one reporter from EDM Identity exposed just how lax organizers were treating their policies:
The decision to forgo requiring masks rested on claims that (1) masks in 90-100 degree temperatures posed a risk that patrons could overheat, and (2) a virus has a harder time of surviving in hot temperatures. However, as the journalist points out, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) actually found no conclusive link between hotter temperatures and the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Furthermore, she actually found an MIT study claiming the opposite.
When pressed to provide further evidence that higher temperatures actually lowers the spread of the virus, Sacred Hive sent the investigative journalist an article from the South China Morning Post that oddly pointed her to a title reading, “don’t bank on summer killing it off.” That same article, conducted by researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou Province, China, even went onto conclude that heat alone was not enough to curb the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, Sound Haven began hiding tweets from concerned would-be attendees… which didn’t fare so well for their transparency, their credibility, their sense of ethics, or their perceived concern over the wellbeing of their patrons.
Artists begin speaking out, headliners cancel
Bleep Bloop began sounding off first, posing to the artists on the Sound Haven line-up whether they could ethically and morally live with themselves if they were participating in the blatant spread of the virus.
Two questions for any fellow dj’s who are taking live bookings and playing live shows again…
Do you care at all about the safety of your audience, and will you feel guilty when people get sick and die after coming to the mass gathering you promoted?
— bleep bloop (@bleepbloopbass) June 23, 2020
Always one to be politically vocal and socially conscious, G Jones then began to speak out against the production company, insulating that they were being “reckless” and encouraging them the “reconsider or reschedule.” Granted, these were two artists who were not on Sound Haven’s 2020 line-up.
sorry to single anyone out but hosting a 1,000 capacity, MASK OPTIONAL rave (in a state where new daily cases of COVID are trending steadily upward, no less) is reckless and will put vulnerable communities at unnecessary risk. i hope these promoters will reconsider or reschedule https://t.co/nuUsMSAwXb
— G JONES (@gjonesbass) June 23, 2020
Shlump initially defended his position to stay on the line-up, suggesting that massive festivals like Dancefestopia and Ubbi Dubbi/Freaky Deaky ought to be implicated over smaller, newer events like Sound Haven with a significantly lower annual attendance rate.
The fact is that the two aforementioned mass-scale festivals aren’t slated to take place until September and October, respectively. Still, the likelihood of the Coronavirus curve taking a downturn isn’t projected anytime soon, even during those time periods, with Forbes projecting that the virus will “surge again from September through October, according to the University of Washington” and CNN now forecasting “nearly 170,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by October 1.”
This raises the question, in Shlump’s own words, as to whether those festivals are apart of some “evil money incentive to put people at risk for profit.”
Psymbionic then chimed in to put the virus’ spread into perspective for his fellow bass making comrade, stating things in moralistic terms that he would “rather be broke and able to sleep at night than deliberately put folks in danger” and, by proxy, “their friends, families, and strangers in their community.”
But the reality is that I know if I were to play a show right now, not only would the attendees be put at risk but also their friends, families, and strangers in their community.
I’d rather be broke and able to sleep at night rather than deliberately put folks in danger.
— 𝘗𝘚𝘠𝘔𝘉𝘐𝘖𝘕𝘐𝘊 (@Psymbionic) June 23, 2020
Putting matters rather blankly, Psymbionic raises the obvious ethical concern that “announcing a booking in the middles of a pandemic that hasn’t even plateaued” is of course going to “lead to backlash.” As a result, Shlump would come out within hours of his original tweet to say that he was pulling out of the festival.
— Shlump (@shlumpbass) June 24, 2020
i won’t be performing at sound haven 2020. as much as i would like to, i cant with good conscious play and put anyone’s lives in danger. i believe that you must practice what you preach, and until it becomes safer for everyone, i will not be performing ANY live events.
— 👾RAVENSCOON👾 (@RavenscoonNest) June 23, 2020
Also to be transparent: With my mental health I struggle with day to day already. I know for fact if somebody was hurt or got sick or worse I couldn’t live with that. So I’m also doing this for myself and my mental health.
— Father Root (@AngelicRootBass) June 23, 2020
So yeah we have personally turn down any offers from soundhaven this year & myself and select members of my team will not be supporting Sound Haven this year for NUMEROUS of reasons. I am open to discussing our reasons with anyone, if you want DM Me 🙂
— ( v i s u a l . 9 ) (@a40ounce) June 23, 2020
Every show I’m currently on was booked before quarantine and obviously we’ve been waiting to see what happens with the spread of the outbreak , I just told my manager to cancel the rest of my shows for 2020 so get off my nuts ✌️
— Jantsen Throbertson (@jantsenmusic) June 23, 2020
Yeappp im out it is indeed a bit too early. I think we cancelled soundhaven.
— Thriftworks (@Thriftworks) June 24, 2020
Meanwhile, Sound Haven appears to have sold out amidst all the controversy, at least according to their ticketing website.
“Cancel Culture” is all too real
As a start-up festival that would now be in its second year, Sound Haven is undoubtedly one new breakout festival that has been catching the eyes of the underground bass community. Not to mention, they have a keen eye for cutting-edge curation and spotting a gaggle of rising bass talent that are likely to blow up within the next year.
The 2020 line-up was brimming over with insanely rising raw talent — from FRQ NCY, illanthropy, Ives, Juju Beats, Pluto Era, Smoakland, Super Future, Rest In Pierce, Malbis, Slzrd, Southgate., Sunken Frequencies, and too many more to name — all on the verge of a breakout.
But the fact of the matter remains, Sound Haven organizers made a bad call. They then defended it with poor scientific evidence, poor ethos, and a lack of moral compass. As “cancel culture” continues to loom over the festival community, time will only tell whether production companies like Borda Productions (Dancefestopia) and Disco Donnie (Ubbi Dubbi Meets Freaky Deaky) will fall under the same critical microscope.
Already, G Jones has publicly backed out of Dancefesttopia, so it wouldn’t be surprising if there was a snowball effect here for those hoping to go to Kansas City this year. Suffice it to say, Sound Haven 2020 is already dead in the water.
Given how the dance music industry has been unofficially canceled for 2020 —with Live Nation projecting their return in mid-2021, and large-scale music events like Coachella, Tomorrowland, Electric Forest, and Electric Daisy Carnival calling off the year — the two production companies would be remised not to cancel.
The COVDI-19 statistics are bleak and its upwards curve is only climbing, especially in states with lax social distancing policies in the name of saving local economies. With a president who calls Coronavirus a “Democratic hoax,” who plays games with ventilators going to favored governors, who tells the pandemic will disappear in summer out of nowhere, and who encourages the use of unsafe drugs and even drinking bleach (however sarcastic), one thing is clear: this pandemic isn’t going away this year.
It’s time that industry professionals put profit to bed and put the health, safety, wellbeing, and livelihood of the community first. If production companies won’t, then artists are proving they will.
Featured photo: Robert Olson Photography.
Information seeker. Dog dad. PhD drop out. Avid collector of pashminas, plants, and experiences. College professor by day, EDM photographer by night.