The canceled hip-hop show that was supposed to happen Saturday, August 23, at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista may trigger some big changes in the concert industry.
Headlined by Wiz Khalifa, the “Under the Influence of Music Tour” was tainted by a backstage murder the night before at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in San Jose. A 38-year-old man was fatally shot five times. A statement from the promoter, Live Nation, on the afternoon of the show said the Chula Vista date was being canceled due to “an active investigation.”
Besides the negative publicity that a dead body gives to hip-hop concerts, insiders say Live Nation is faced with a lawsuit and a huge hit to its bottom line. “I would guess Live Nation was on the hook for $200,000 to pay for all the security, maintenance, tech, and sound crew that were hired for the Sleep Train show but who didn’t have to work after all,” says one insider.
The tour, which also included A$AP Rocky, Ty Dolla $ign, and Rich Bull Homie did make it to its next scheduled date, at Orange County’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Sunday night. But one artist who did not make it was four-time Grammy nominee Young Jeezy (Jay Jenkins, 36). It was announced the next day that Jeezy and other members of his entourage were being held by the Irvine police department for possession of an automatic rifle and other guns in connection of the backstage murder. Jeezy’s bail was set at $1 million.
Before it was announced that Jeezy had been arrested, allhiphop.com stated the victim was involved with promoting Jeezy’s after-concert party.
Insiders maintain the whole problem could have been avoided if the security at Shoreline would have used a metal-detecting wand to search everyone backstage just as they checked everyone else attending the concert.
“Let’s face it, if you have an all-access backstage pass, they don’t check you [with a metal detector],” says one insider. “If you are with the band, the tradition is you can bring pretty much anything you want with you backstage. That will change, I'm sure."
Gary Bongiovanni, publisher of the Pollstar concert industry trade magazine, admits the incident could be a game-changer. “I’ve never seen a situation where the band and its entourage was searched with a metal detector unless they were playing for the president.”
But Bongiovanni admits that if a headliner shoots and kills, it could change everything. “Historically the problems are with the hangers on, not the band or their road crew... Absolutely this could change the way backstage security is handled.”
There are unanswered questions: Why wasn't the canceled show rescheduled to another date, since Live Nation owns Sleep Train? And will Live Nation start checking its backstage access policies and institute more stringent security measures?
A call to the tour agent, Peter Schwartz, was not returned, and an email to Khalifa's management company, Taylor Gang Entertainment, also did not get a response. Live Nation spokesperson Greg Terlizzi did not respond to a request for comment.