According to The Blast, the organizers of Woodstock 50 are suing their former financial partner, claiming the company had no right to announce the festival was canceled and accusing it of taking more than $17 million from a festival bank account.
Promoter Michael Lang, who co-founded the original Woodstock Music and Art Fair, claims Dentsu Inc. caused "enormous and irreparable harm" through its "outrageous and illegal misconduct."
"In a series of precipitous, underhanded and unauthorized actions, Dentsu purported to seize control of and oust W50 from the Festival's production, and then immediately announced through press releases to the world on April 29 that it was unilaterally cancelling the Festival," Woodstock 50 writes in the lawsuit, which was obtained by The Blast.
Woodstock 50 claims Dentsu contacted artists, "falsely telling them that they were released from their contracts with W50 and the Festival, and that the performers should not perform at the Festival, though they have all been paid in full."
Woodstock 50 is asking that Dentsu be forced into arbitration and, in the meantime, be ordered to stop badmouthing the festival and return the $17.8 million from the festival's bank account.
Woodstock 50 was slated to take place in Watkins Glen, New York on the weekend of August 16-18, with a bill featuring THE KILLERS, THE LUMINEERS, THE RACONTEURS, Robert Plant, GRETA VAN FLEET, PORTUGAL. THE MAN, IMAGINE DRAGONS, CAGE THE ELEPHANT, Miley Cyrus, Halsey, Brandi Carlile, Janelle Monae, Vince Staples and many others, as well as veterans of the 1969 event like John Fogerty, SANTANA, DAVID CROSBY & FRIENDS, John Sebastian, CANNED HEAT, Country Joe McDonald and HOT TUNA.
Just days after Dentsu announced it was canceling the festival, the event's production partner, Superfly, severed its ties with the show. The entertainment company, which co-produces the Bonnaroo and Outside Lands festivals, confirmed last week that it was no longer involved in the venture.
A spokesperson for Superfly said, "Throughout our engagement our team provided counsel and recommendation on the necessary elements required to produce a safe and first-class experience. Following the decision of one of our clients, Dentsu, to cancel the event, we will no longer be participating in ongoing related activities."
A source told Rolling Stone: "With Superfly leaving the fold, that's just the death knell. Any festivalgoer knows now that Superfly doesn't have faith in it. I don't know how you recover from that. It's impossible." In addition, multiple talent agencies told Billboard that the artists are no longer obligated to play, saying, "The artist contracts are with Dentsu, not with Michael Lang or Woodstock 50."
The same source told Rolling Stone that the first signs of trouble were when THE BLACK KEYS dropped out of the show after being confirmed and when the ticket sale date was delayed.
Lang has vowed that the show will go on, telling the New York Times, "We're committed. We were committed then, and we're not stopping now."