Playground Festival: Anatomy of Fail

Scheduled headliner Game files suit, others complain of fraud, and the organizers have clammed up

And she was one of the lucky ones; prior to the event, bands didn't get contracts, and even when they arrived to play, there were no published set times. Artists slated to perform were even walking around with cardboard boxes that said, "Tips/Spare change."

Luckily, other players at the festival had legal recourse. Game was supposed to headline the first day of the festival. On the day of the event, the organizers called his management, saying they didn't have enough money to pay the rapper. "Those organizers were a joke," Game's manager Delaney McGill told the Weekly. "You have one of the biggest rap artists in the West Coast, and that Sept. 3 weekend, his album debuted at No. 1 in the country—and you can't pay!" McGill says Game is filing a lawsuit against the festival organizers and sponsors for damages that reach to seven figures.

"Bottom line is, they damaged my client's image and reputation," McGill says. "Game has millions of fans, and he's never had a problem in the past selling out shows in the OC area. . . . I want them to know that it wasn't his fault, 1,000 percent. The ones who did purchase tickets to see him, I hope they got their money back."

Too much ground, not enough play
Kevin Lara
Too much ground, not enough play

Location Info


Hidden Valley Park

8800 Irvine Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92618

Category: Parks and Outdoors

Region: Irvine

The Weekly has tried to get in touch with ESP to get its version of the story, but its website has been scrubbed, its office in Costa Mesa shuttered, and numerous phone calls and Facebook messages have been left unanswered.

Ascher says it's hard to say whether the festival had the sole intention of fleecing money off investors. "It would seem that from the numbers they were giving that they knew this was nothing like Coachella or Electric Daisy Carnival, but they were putting it in the same league as those events," he says.

Doll says, "I would love to go along with that [theory], but I don't believe it. I believe they wanted it to be great and just needed to raise capital. I believe it was legitimately set up so they could do it again, and they just failed."

This article appeared in print as "Playground Throwdown: With scheduled headliner Game filing suit, accusations of fraud are still popping up a month after the two-day festival."

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Michele Vaughn
Michele Vaughn

Yeah, my band (Uncle Arthur's Funeral) played.... It's true, the festival was total bullshit. The promo company asked us to sell tix, but I told them to suck it. We don't do pre-sale for our own protection - for reasons JUST LIKE THIS. I feel terrible for all the other local acts that did push sales because the scene was depressing. Thank god I take drugs. LoL. I had a great time! :D



Matt Event-Ops
Matt Event-Ops

Uhm, day two the event went until 11pm. Not defending the situation, just stating the facts -as I was brought on as their Production Manager 4 days in advance and had to do 2 weeks of planning and organization in a matter of days. Insanity.


Sounds crazy for sure -- is that type of turnaround timecrunch pretty atypical, then?


@20ftJesus I always get paid.

I had the chance to pull the plug on several occasions leading up to the day-of, but didn't want to screw over the kids who wasted their money on tickets, from bands they support and would never be able to refund.

I figured since most headline artists had already been paid, the show must go on.

As for refunds or anything past that, I let the promoter deal with whatever drama he had created.

It's not fair to be the executioner and cancel what could be somebody's first concert and will make the most of it... although many have said killing it would have been a wise thing to do.