Chicago company sings blues, sues over Soldier Field dance music gig
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter June 12, 2014 5:42PM
Updated: July 17, 2014 6:19PM
There’s a legal battle brewing behind the massively successful Spring Awakening Music Festival, which hits Soldier Field Friday.
JL Productions, a Chicago entertainment production company, is suing React Presents and React’s new owner SFX Entertainment, alleging JL helped fund the popular electronic dance music fest, as well as the Summer Set Music & Camping Festival in Wisconsin, but has been shut out of being part of this year’s profits.
JL provided $800,000 each for the two festivals as part of a three-year deal beginning in 2012, according to the suit. But when JL began asking questions about providing funding for the 2014 festival late last year, they were shut out, the suit alleges.
Delaware-based SFX Entertainment purchased React in February 2014 for $8.2 million in cash and $2 million in shares.
Emails attached to the suit show JL trying to set dates to meet with React for months. In an email dated Feb. 18, JL called React’s lack of response “radio silence.”
“This is around the time we funded our commitment for Spring Awakening last year. When should we send the funds for this year’s commitment as per our contract? We also would like to see the budget for this year’s festival. . . . To be honest don’t understand what’s going on or why. I thought we were great partners but apparently not,” the email said.
In another email, React said its new owner SFX was “fully aware of the agreement” React signed with JL.
But five months later and after being sold, React emailed JL to say a lawyer was cleaning up language and amending their agreement. JL Productions’ lawyer Bill Quinlan confirmed Thursday the two companies were in dispute, but could not provide further details. SFX declined comment, and React did not respond to requests for comment.
Spring Awakening started in Chicago in 2012. This year’s festival features big EDM names such as Diplo, Knife Party and Kaskade. About 30,000 attendees are expected each day. Three-day passes this year are sold out.
The suit names React Presents, Inc.; SFX Entertainment, Inc.; Jeffery Callahan, former co-owner of React; Lucas King, former co-owner of React and Nick Karounos, former principal of React as defendants.