Logic Systems Sound and Lighting, the Valley Park-based company that had been hired to work the 2018 festival, is suing LouFest’s promoter for breach of contract.
In a suit filed last month in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Logic Systems detailed over $70,000 it claims Listen Live Entertainment owes it for work on the canceled festival, plus three other events held earlier in the year.
Logic Systems owner Chip Self said he considered it a “long shot” that the suit will yield a payday. He sued, he said, in part to stand up for other vendors who haven’t been paid for their services.
Those companies were left in the lurch after Listen Live canceled LouFest just days before it was set to begin.
“I think it’s important that people not just be allowed to just walk away from something like this and carry on their lives like nothing ever happened,” Self said. “Because that’s not what happened with all the vendors. It hurt a lot of people.”
Self said he also wanted to position himself to receive a payment if Listen Live sells LouFest to another promoter, though he doesn’t expect that to happen.
“They’ve done such damage to that brand that it seems unlikely that anyone would buy it,” he said.
In a statement provided by partner Mike Van Hee, Listen Live Entertainment acknowledged it has outstanding debts from the 2018 event, noting there are “many” parties who are “in a position similar to Logic Systems.” Listen Live is working “towards building a path forward,” the statement continued.
Logic Systems pulled out of LouFest about a week before the Sept. 8-9 event was set to begin, charging that Listen Live had failed to make either of the two advance payments the promoter had agreed to provide. Logic Systems insisted on the advance payment, Self said, after a series of delayed or missing payments from Listen Live dating back to prior years.
Other key vendors made similar complaints.
Listen Live insisted for several days that the show would go on, before canceling. It blamed a bad weather forecast and negative press coverage of its vendor disputes.
The future of LouFest remains unclear. Steven F. Schankman of Contemporary Productions, a longtime St. Louis concert promoter, said the local market can support an event like LouFest, which sold out in 2017 and drew 60,000 ticket-holders across two days.
“This is not to criticize [Listen Live],” he said, “but you never do an event if you don’t have the money to cover your costs … The most ethical way to do a show is to have the money, if the show doesn’t happen, to pay your entertainers and your vendors, even if it’s a reduced amount.”
Schankman said there are other promoters who could potentially stage another event like LouFest, but Listen Live would have a hard time of it, unless it can pay its bills early.
“It’s not going to be easy to convince people, especially the people you need to pay,” he said.