Tag Archive | "MTK: Music to Know Festival"

Poor Ticket Sales Nix MTK Concert

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They had the music, they had the food, and they had the fashion, but what the organizers of the MTK: Music to Know Festival didn’t have was the crowds.

Just a week before the festival was set to debut, the stage nestled among greenery cradling an unused portion of a runway at the East Hampton Airport, festival organizers on Saturday pulled the plug on the event, citing poor ticket sales.

“It is with heavy, heavy heart that we regret to inform you that the inaugural MTK: Music To Know Festival in East Hampton will not take place,” said festival promoters in a release. “Despite our unique vision and arranging a world-class line-up, ticket sales were not adequate to allow the event to continue. We wanted to let everyone know now before engaging more deeply.”

“Along with our ticket holders, vendors, sponsors, business associates, colleagues and friends in the community, we too are filled with deep disappointment,” continued the release. “We pledge to endure during this difficult time with the same integrity and professionalism displayed throughout the creation of this event.”

The MTK: Music to Know Festival was conceived by hotelier and businessman Chris Jones and screenwriter Bill Collage, both Sag Harbor residents.

It aimed to bring up-and-coming, as well as celebrated indie-music artists, to the East End for a two-day festival that would also feature beer and wine gardens, high-end and local cuisine, an area for children, and special access to artists in the VIP area. One artist rumored heavily among industry sources to be set to perform an acoustic set at MTK was the actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who has earned critical and popular praise for her vocals in the film “Country Strong” and on the television show “Glee”

On Tuesday, Jones said that in order for the festival to go on, 5,500 tickets of the 9,500 tickets up for sale needed to be sold. Tickets were priced at $195 for a two-day pass, and two-day VIP passes for $695. One-day passes were also later offered as an option for festival attendees.

As of Saturday, Jones said the festival only sold 2,500 tickets. While it was possible that more tickets would have sold in the coming week, Jones said that was a possibility he unfortunately could not count on.

“The bottom line is when you run an event, you have a certain amount of losses you can take, and then you have to make a decision,” he said, adding Saturday was the last day the organization could make final decisions regarding expenditures.

The event was plagued from the beginning, when it was first proposed at an Amagansett venue, by a handful of critics locally who questioned the town’s decision to grant Collage and Jones a commercial mass gathering permit in the first place. Comments appeared to wane after the festival was moved to the East Hampton Airport, and particularly after a promised $100,000 was set aside in an escrow account for a number of local charities including The Retreat, Phoenix House, Project MOST, all East Hampton based food pantries, and the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, to name a few.

Those charities will not receive that funding now, confirmed Jones.

“That is the most disappointing part,” he said. “It was contingent on the event taking place and you can’t really say anything more than that except it is really, really disappointing.”

As to what led to the lackluster sales, Jones said he could not say.

“One thing I will stand behind is the bands,” he said. “We really feel from the bottom of our hearts that we had an amazing lineup. As to what happened thereafter, who knows, but the lineup I will stand behind.”

In addition to a roster of acts including celebrated indie-rock bands like Vampire Weekend, Bright Eyes, and Dawes, folk artists M. Ward, British songstress Ellie Goulding, Brooklyn duo Matt & Kim and Fitz & the Tantrums, Collage and Jones also booked Suddyn, a rock band with roots in Montauk.

“Being born and raised in MTK, I was looking forward to being part of this incredible festival, I would like to humbly express my gratitude to Chris Jones and Bill Collage for their extraordinary efforts to make this seemingly impossible dream a reality,” band leader Alan Steil posted on the group’s Facebook page. “It is important to note that the loss of this festival was beyond the control of these two men and everyone else involved in the process. Again, we’d like to thank them for the opportunity and we were proud to be a part of it every step of the way.”

Since Saturday, Jones said he has been focused entirely on making things right as quickly as possible, in particular for ticket holders, who as of Tuesday night were still without information on how they could gain refunds.

“The Company is working very hard in making arrangements for a mechanism to provide ALL ticket holders with refunds,” read a message on musictoknow.com. “Purchasers of tickets have done so through various interfaces, we will provide clear direction for each of these on this website as soon as possible, but no later than Friday, August 12, 2011.”

“Since this happened I have spent all of the hours I am awake focusing on how to sort this situation out to benefit as many people as we can,” said Jones on Tuesday. “I am not interested in what has gone on. I am trying to make everything right moving forward. I am really focused on trying to do the best thing we can for everyone.”

Vampire Weekend, Bright Eyes and Ellie Goulding Top MTK Lineup

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Columbia University grads and indie rock group Vampire Weekend have spent the better part of the last year treating revelers in Europe and South America to its African and Caribbean-inspired guitar rifts and rhythms with a 1980s-pop bend. The band, which with seemingly relative ease found critical success even before they released their self-titled freshman album in 2008, has since played virtually every great music festival around the world, from the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California to the famed Glastonbury Festival in Scotland and the Jisan Valley Rock Festival in South Korea. Despite being courted by a number of festivals in the United States, this year the band’s only scheduled festival stateside will bring them back to New York where they will headline the MTK: Music to Know Festival in East Hampton on the weekend of August 13-14, along with Bright Eyes and British pop darling Ellie Goulding.

Chris Jones, who founded MTK with fellow Sag Harbor resident Bill Collage, said he has been listening to Vampire Weekend since 2006, right after the fledgling band formed in a Columbia University dorm room. Band members Ezra Koenig, Chris Baio, Rostam Batmanglij and Chris Tomson brought their Afro-pop melodies and rhythm to battle of the band contests, parties and even at literary society functions on campus. Word quickly spread about the group, which is named after Koenig’s freshman year film project, the band’s unique sound and witty lyrics, songs like “Oxford Comma” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” fueling the band’s rise, despite the fact they had yet to record an album.

In 2007, “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” was ranked 67 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Top 100 Songs of the Year,” and the band embarked on a tour in the United Kingdom, backing up The Shins. In 2008, they release “Vampire Weekend” and in 2010 released their sophomore effort, “Contra.” It debuted in the number one spot on the Billboard charts.

“I think they appeal to a really wide audience, a little bit like Mumford & Sons,” said Jones this week. “They have a great following with a younger generation, but their music also seems to resonate with an older generation, which is important.”

Jones added that as live bands go, Vampire Weekend is “phenomenal.”

MTK will be the band’s first stateside festival this year, performing as the headlining act on Saturday.

“They obviously have great taste,” joked Jones.

He later added that the band choosing to play MTK spoke not only to the marketability of the audience on the East End of Long Island, but also to a level of confidence in the festival itself. Collage and Jones hope it becomes an annual event, and in its inaugural year have been able to attract some of the more celebrated up and coming artists, not just in rock, but also in rhythm and blues, pop and folk.


On the forefront of the alt-folk scene since the mid-90s is Bright Eyes, the Sunday night headliner at MTK.

Led by singer-songwriter and guitarist Conor Oberst, backed ably by multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis and piano and trumpet player Nate Walcott, Bright Eyes quickly found success in the music industry, its 2004 singles “Lua” and “Take it Easy (Love Nothing)” earning the top two spots on the Billboard charts after their release.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based group released a slew of albums, featuring the best of the Omaha music scene and beyond, but it was not until 2002 with the release of “Lifted” that the band became a critical darling. However, it was the 2004 release of “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning,” followed by a tour with Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M. on the Vote for Change tour that Bright Eyes found commercial success as well. The band released “Cassadaga” in 2007, and “The People’s Key” this year.

The group has collaborated with musicians such as fellow MTK performer M. Ward, Lou Reed, Jonathan Rice, Jenny Lewis, Nora Jones and Steve Earl.

“He is just an enormously talented musician, and very well respected within the artistic community,” said Jones. “It is great for us to be able to recognize an artist who the artists love, and we are honored he will be playing his first show on Long Island with us.”

Bright Eyes will open for Coldplay the week before MTK at Lollapalooza in Chicago. According to industry sources, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin’s wife, the actress and cookbook author Gwyneth Paltrow, who found her own musical success this year through her film “Country Song” and a memorable stint on the series “Glee” will perform in the VIP tent during MTK.

EllieCollage and Jones courted British songstress Ellie Goulding for months, but added her to the line-up just a month and a half ago. Jones credits his wife, Karen, for predicting Goulding’s star would rise long before she played the reception for Prince William and Princess Catherine this spring.

“She predicted Ellie’s star would rise for 18 months before it happened,” said Jones. “And then she came on board and blew up.”

Goulding’s album “Lights” debuted in the number one spot on the U.K. charts and was released with six new tracks as “Bright Lights” in 2010. Since then she has toured at a break-neck pace, including performing on Saturday Night Live and true to her roots played Elton John’s “Your Song” for the royal couple’s first dance.

“To be honest, the rest of the bands are equally talented as the headliners,” said Jones. “They are just not as well know, but in terms of talent they are all up there. We are lucky to have them.”

The MTK: Music to Know Festival will take place Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14. For more information visit, www.musictoknow.com.