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LouFest Organizers Allege Contractor Sabotaged 2018 Festival

A flotilla of brightly colored umbrellas hang suspended outside of the LouFest Store were used as a common meeting place throughout the weekend.
File Photo | Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio
A flotilla of brightly colored umbrellas hang suspended outside of the LouFest Store in 2017.

Organizers of the LouFest music festival have filed suit against one of its contractors, alleging that the owner of sound-and-lighting vendor Logic Systems sabotaged the 2018 festival and planned to take the event over from its management.

Listen Live Entertainment filed suit on Friday in the St. Louis Circuit Court against Logic Systems and its president Chip Self. The suit alleges that Self made “negative, misleading comments,” exaggerated statements regarding funding issues and suggested LouFest would be cancelled.

The suit alleges that Self did so to cause artists to pull out of the festival scheduled to take place in September — a charge Self denies.

“It’s a frivolous, defensive legal strategy that we expected, and we are prepared to defend against it vigorously,” Self said on Wednesday.

Ryan Mahoney, an attorney for Listen Live, said the festival organizers want to rebuild the trust of vendors, sponsors and music fans.
“This litigation is just one step toward remedying the cancellation of last year’s festival and working to rebuild it for years to come,” he said.
The suit is seeking more than $100,000 in damages, plus unspecified punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and court costs.

Allegations made

About two weeks before the festival was scheduled to take place, the suit alleges Self’s company contacted a talent agency managing several of the artists scheduled to perform and told them that none of the production vendors received their deposits.

The suit alleges that Self’s company contacted festival organizers the following day and told them they were halting work unless a document was signed outlining payment terms, including being paid for half of their contract by Aug. 29.

At the time, LouFest organizers were talking with the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, a sponsor of the festival, to get help in securing a line of credit for LouFest 2018 and future iterations of the festival, according to the suit.

When that funding fell through, the suit alleges that festival organizers sought funding through a private investor to start paying vendors and artists, but it failed to make the 50-percent payment to Logic Systems. Self told organizers that he was going to release equipment and staff to other customers, according to the suit.

St. Louis Public Radio reported Aug. 31 that Logic Systems was pulling out of the festival because it had not received payments required by its contract.

The suit alleges that Self did not have a contract with LouFest at that time.

The suit also alleges that Self contacted Kranzberg Arts Foundation and said artists were looking for venues on Sept. 8-9, due to the cancellation of LouFest. Self asked the foundation to make his company an equity owner of the festival, according to the suit.

Listen Live partner Mike Van Hee contacted Self on Sept. 1 about his comments made to the media, according to the suit. Self told Van Hee, the lawsuit alleges, that he was willing to work with LouFest pending an advanced payment in three days.

On Sept. 2, Van Hee said a funding plan was in place and the festival would be getting a bridge loan from a commercial lender and a subsidiary of Live Nation, according to the suit.

But the lawsuit alleges Self continued to make comments to media and generate bad publicity despite having reached an agreement.

On Sept. 4, the commercial lender and Live Nation subsidiary pulled out, citing the negative press coverage. LouFest was cancelled.

The next day, Self went to the Office of Special Events for the City of St. Louis and asked whether he could get a permit for a musical festival in Forest Park for the same dates in 2019, according to the lawsuit. Self denies this allegation.

St. Louis Office of Special Events program executive Ann Chance said in an email Wednesday that her office had received no requests from Self.

“Nothing has been filed with my office,” Chance wrote. “Truthfully the only requests came right after LouFest cancelled last fall and random people — not Sound Logic Systems — wanted to try to put something together to fill the void. Nothing formal was ever requested.”

Read the full lawsuit here: 


Follow Beth on Twitter: @bhundsdorfer

Follow Kae on Twitter: @kmaepetrin

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Beth was an investigative reporter with St. Louis Public Radio until July 2019.
Kae Petrin covers public transportation and housing as a digital reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.