Punk Rock Picnic Music Festival ticket holders, rejoice! Finally, after months of waiting with no sign of a refund in sight for the cancelled festival, one is finally coming to you. Very, very, very…slowly.
Just when you thought we'd stopped updating you on the saga of last April's ill-fated Long Beach soiree, BAM! The fest's surly promoter Steve Smith strikes again! Though, it wasn't in the way you might expect. We were more than prepared to have Smith cuss us out when he contacted us last week after he made it into our yearly Scariest People Issue. At that point, we'd gone months without any word from the promoter about refunds for would-be festival goers or vendors who got royally stiffed when he cancelled the two-day fest mere days before its launch aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach. We even followed the dead end struggle of vendor Gregg White who tried unsuccessfully to take Smith to small claims court for the $1,000 dollars he owed him. Well, now Smith is vowing to make amends and payback the ticket money he so confusingly lost…one paycheck at a time.
In addition to working as a local tattoo artist, Smith says he recently picked up a part-time job working for $9 an hour to pay back ticket holders one at a time every week. How efficient! Despite being in somewhat dire financial straits, so far 'ol Stevie has managed to crank out a couple of checks ranging from $50-$100 with funds addressed to people he owes. He even goes as far as to proudly post the checks on his Facebook page and the Punk Rock Picnic Facebook page like the one above. This hard-earned cash apparently goes to a ticket holder who was probably pumped to see supposed headliners Danzig and GWAR before the bill changed drastically to promoting bands DRI and Anti-Nowhere League. That of course was before the festival was canceled altogether with barely any notice whatsoever.
“Nicole August paid in full. Next on the list is Jose Aceveda. Your check will go out next week,” Smith writes in a recent post on his Facebook page. “The first cashiers check of many many refunds for the Punk Rock Picnic. Here's to all you who doubted my integrity when it comes to my friends, the picnic, the bands and the fans.”
See also: Promoter of Cancelled Punk Rock Picnic Finally Sued By Fed-Up Vendor Who Wants His Money Back
When he reached out to the Weekly, Smith insisted that aside from the hopes to clear his name after his reputation took a severe beating due to our cover story, he's mostly focused on trying to finally do the right thing by those who trusted him with their money. Even if it means basically working in indentured servitude for what will probably be a decade or so at the rate he's going now.
“I am an honest person who loves music and cares about my friends and the people who work hard to write and play music,” Smith says. “I don't have anything to prove. I'm doing what I feel it the right thing to do. No one can dog me for doing what's right.”
However, his former partner Scott Litwak, who co-founded the original PRP with Jim Schwab in 2008, says that if Smith really wanted to help, he could start by trying to pay back some of the outstanding expenses from the 2012 Picnic when the co-founders welcomed him as a partner in the event. Ultimately, that year of the Picnic left Smith, Litwak and Schwab in a mound of debt as a result of poor production strategy and financial planning. To date, the Punk Rock Picnic organizers still owe the OC Sheriff's department $7,000 for acting as security for the 2012 event, before Smith decided to break away from Litwak and Schwab to start his own version of the festival last spring with virtually the same brand name.
See also: Surprise! Punk Rock Picnic Promoter Steve Smith is a No-Show in Small Claims Court
“If he was going to make good on what went bad, he should start paying back people he stole from in the beginning not people he stole from in the end,” Litwak says. He's trying to make himself look better $20 at a time, not thousands of dollars at a time like he should be. It's like trying to sweep away crumbs when he's got a whole pile to deal with.”
As far as Litwak and Schwab's desire to revive the Picnic on their own terms, they'd love to, but not with out the right set of sponsors and corporate backing that would allow them to pay back the debt incurred from 2012 and draw some premiere punk talent to the stage without losing an arm and a leg.
When asked exactly how much money Smith owes to ticket holders and vendors, the promoter declined to give an estimate, though he says he's working to get one for us. For now, suffice it to say that this might very well be the most painstaking refund of all time, and a solution that leaves us with few answers about where exactly all of the money went in the first place. But c'mon, guys…does he at least get credit for trying?