Rock USA, the rock and metal festival held in Oshkosh, WI that had been running for nine summers strong, has announced that it will be filing for bankruptcy following the cancelation of its 2020 event due to the coronavirus.
In a lengthy statement posted to social media by the festival’s organizers, Hypervibe, the company cited un-recoupable year-round expenses for festival staff as well as ongoing leases on equipment and the festival grounds as among the hardest financial hits they’ve had to weather as an independent company with no larger financial backing. Filing for bankruptcy, they say, is the best way to ensure those holding tickets for the canceled 2020 event will get refunds.
Sadly, Rock USA’s fate is one that many festivals and independent venues are facing as the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down and the U.S. government has refused to provide support for this particular industry. The Save Our Stages Fest, which took place this past weekend, attempted to bring visibility to this pressing issue.
Rock USA’s most recent lineup, in 2019, featured Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, In This Moment, Clutch, Lacuna Coil, Dance Gavin Dance and more.
Hypervibe’s full statement follows:
‘To Ticketholders of Country USA and Rock USA:
“Many of you have attempted to contact us regarding refunds for prepaid tickets for the 2020 concerts. We do understand your frustration in not being able to obtain the refunds for your tickets quickly.
“We do want you to know that we have been trying to deal with this horrible and unforeseen disaster since it became apparent that we could not hold the events as planned. As you are aware, the Governor banned such events, and in hindsight it becomes apparent that to proceed with the events would have been irresponsible in light of the COVID pandemic.
“Unfortunately, we did not and could not have foreseen this turn of events. There is no insurance for what can be described as an act of God.
“We are a small, family owned, independent concert promoter. We make financial commitments years in advance to the talent and our vendors. We have ongoing leases for the premises and equipment that we use to host the concerts, in addition to a year round staff that works hard to put the events together.
“While we believe we exercise prudent financial management, we don’t have deep pocket backers nor the financial resources to weather a total collapse of the season. Indeed, as it slowly became apparent that it would be impossible to host the 2020 events, we cut back on all expenses, (including employees), and attempted to negotiate with our creditors to reduce our debt.
“In fact, we reached financial agreements with our largest creditors, and have whittled down the pool of claims against our scarce resources we have available.
“Although it may not be apparent, getting money back into your pockets has been, and is still our number one priority. We have worked with our legal counsel to choose the best method by which to refund the remaining assets/cash to ticketholders and believe that the best and most cost efficient way to do this is through a Bankruptcy proceeding.
“We have been informed the Bankruptcy Code provides a priority to “deposit” or “prepaid” claimants, aka you, the ticketholders. This process will allow the assets turned over to a bankruptcy trustee to primarily fund your priority claims, prior to any general claims being paid, and will likely result in a significant dividend to be paid to ticketholders.
“The trustee will also investigate the use of our funds leading up to the filing to ensure that only legitimate claims were paid and that there was no “raid” on the checkbook by management. The Bankruptcy Code provides tools to reclaim or claw back any such transfers – but there were none. However, this will provide assurances to you that the wind down of the business, as unfortunate as it is, has been a fair and transparent process.
“Obviously, we have lost our business, which we grew into what we believe was a premier experience for our concertgoers. We are heartbroken by the events which have caused this horrible situation. We also care about our loyal patrons, for without them, there wouldn’t have been so many years of these great events. We are trying to do right by our loyal supporters and get you a refund, to the extent possible, quickly and equitably.
“In order to make the process easier for all of our ticketholders, we have asked our counsel to provide a letter/email and a bankruptcy claim form to all ticket claimants with instructions on how to fill the claim out and where to send it. We are hopeful that the Bankruptcy trustee, who will be appointed upon the filing, will act quickly to liquidate assets and pay claims. We have taken pains to individually list the ticketholders.
“For what it is worth, we are proud of the over 30 years of events we have hosted here in Oshkosh and the Fox Valley, are grateful to all of the people who supported us, especially those who came to hear the music, and have few regrets – with the exception of how this ended.
“We expect the Chapter 7 filing to occur within several weeks and the process will then move, hopefully, quickly.
“Thank you all for the support and amazing memories over the last 25 years. We ask everyone to spread love and positivity in a time when this world needs it.
“– The Hypervibe Team”