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End of Street Scene?

November 13, 2009 - 2:07 pm

According to a letter received by our parent company, Southland Publishing, Rob Hagey Productions (aka Street Scene) is liquidating its assets in order to pay an estimated $2.8 million owed to creditors (full disclosure: CityBeat‘s among those owed money) and an undisclosed amount owed to former employees. This isn’t bankruptcy; rather, it’s what’s known as a General Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors. According to the letter—from San Diego Credit Association—General Assignment is “an option to filing a Chapter 7 liquidation in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.” The letter goes on to say,

[I]t was determined that it would be in the company’s and its creditors’ best interest to execute a General Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors rather than seek Chapter 7 Bankruptcy relief. Bankruptcy liquidation is generally associated with lengthy, cumbersome and expensive administrative proceedings which reduce and delay recoveries to creditors.

In the last three months, two Street Scene contractors, Southern California Sound Image and Kleege Industries, filed lawsuits against Rob Hagey Productions alleging breach of contract.

I’ve sent an e-mail to Rob Hagey and his son, Riley, who oversaw production at this year’s event.

Update: I just received an e-mail from Rob Hagey:

As you know we had a very tough year. The attendance dropped below 50% of what we had anticipated for Street Scene. So the loss was substantial for my company, Rob Hagey Productions. I have had to close my account as my company is completely insolvent. I have transferred all monies to San Diego Credit Association well below the debt owed to everyone. They will act as the appointed trustee for the betterment of all the creditors including SD City Beat related to Street Scene 09. I have worked in the music business for over thirty years (producing Street Scene for 25 of those years). So this is a life altering time, something that hurts me deeply as I’m very passionate about music.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. vanity impaired permalink
    November 14, 2009 - 7:05 pm 7:05 pm

    Not too surprising, really. Street Scene has been doing an extended death-rattle ever since the move to the stadium lot, then to tailgate park, etc. Black Eyed Peas ridiculously over-amplified and horrible set last year made a lot of people unhappy. A fitting coda, perhaps.

    I assume the brand will still have some value, so hopefully it can be resurrected as an event that is actually in the streets, with an emphasis on local artists.

    • sosumi permalink
      November 27, 2009 - 11:38 am 11:38 am

      for those of you who don’t understand how the live sound business works. peas were over amplied because their own sound engineer who is on the road with them, was driving the system. Sometimes these guys have to use a system they are not familar with and don’t get proper sound check time. Sometimes their just not good at their jobs. sometimes one guys over amplified is another guys not enough. It had nothing to do with street scene..
      I don’t work for anyone involved, just thought I would clear the air on that one. As people often blame the sound company or the system when it comes down to whomever is driving the bus. The band can’t hear what is going on out front, they have to trust the engineer and people’s feedback. Some engineers are good and many are not.

  2. November 15, 2009 - 12:10 pm 12:10 pm

    Sad… Good Idea vanity impaired “an emphasis on local artists” might bring out enough people to fill the Casbah! You wonder if the Beastie Boys don’t cancel due to illness if Street Scene is in the same position financially.

  3. Pitchfork permalink
    November 15, 2009 - 12:57 pm 12:57 pm

    This festival needs to scale it back. It should have kept the 08 formula for putting together a festival. The festival can only get so many local bands, there are only a handful of good bands from SD. I know Mays, 94.9, and a local supporters over hype the scene, and loading a festival with a lot of SD bands, the weakness of the scene really pops out. It’s time to make this small again. Charge 50-60 bucks for both days, and have it go SATURDAY-SUNDAY again, with some night shows on Friday to create buzz. I really hope this festival finds its way back. I would be devastated if this festival was done.

    • Slow Death permalink
      November 15, 2009 - 1:44 pm 1:44 pm

      While I’ll agree with Pitchfork that the Street Scene does need to be scaled back I can’t agree with their reasoning.
      After being involved in San Diego music for about 10 years and counting the only weaknesses in the music scene that I see are the people who are constantly nagging about how weak it is. True, this isn’t L.A. or San Francisco, but I’m happy about that. Measuring a region’s strength in music via some numerical value misses the entire point, but back to the main discussion.
      From a business standpoint I can see the draw to make this into a very large and well produced event. Trying to book an impressive bill of nationally known acts in order to draw fans and patrons makes sense. As already mentioned by people previous to myself there should definitely be a stronger local presence. There are a good number of bands that attract quite a large loyal following in San Diego that have not been tapped into at all.

    • November 16, 2009 - 10:24 pm 10:24 pm

      Out of the 40 acts this year, only maybe 5 can be considered local bands. To place some type of blame on San Diego’s over-hyped local scene, where “there are only a handful of good bands,” is completely without any merit. As far as your post below, “list 20 good/great bands in SD right now please,” can you, Pitchfork, even name 10 bands from San Diego? Someone who uses the screen name “Pitchfork” has to be aware of Crocodiles and Wavves. Don’t hate, appreciate SD’s local bands.

  4. Pitchfork permalink
    November 15, 2009 - 4:37 pm 4:37 pm

    list 20 good/great bands in SD right now please?

    • Seth Combs permalink
      November 15, 2009 - 8:01 pm 8:01 pm

      Crocodlies, Transfer, Apes of Wrath, Gray Ghosts, Pinback, Black Heart Procession, Beaters, Soft Pack, The Dabbers, Kill Me Tomorrow, Vision Of A Dying World, Shark Attack, The Donkeys, Drew Andrews, Scarlet Symphony, Erika Davies, The Burning of Rome, The Long and Short Of It, All Leather, The Locust, Cattle Decapitation, Deep Rooted, MC Flow, Lady Dottie and The Diamonds, John Meeks, Joel P. West, The Kneehighs, Lights On, The Paddle Boat, Silent Comedy, Marquez!, Swim Party, Tape Deck Mountain, Demasiado, The Drowning Men, The Paddle Boat, Gregory Page, The Night Marchers, Wavves, Black Mamba, Maren Parusel, Sunday Times, The Bloodflowers, Christmas Island, Drug Wars, Northern Towns, Rats Eyes, Earthless, Jungle Fever, Heavy Hawaii, The Anasazis, The Vaginals, Illuminauts, and there’s probably a dozen or so more that I’m forgetting.

      I just returned from the Voodoo Music Fest in New Orleans and they seem to have a decent formula with the bands they pick. Snag three really big headliners, sprinkle in a few mid-level national bands and then let your local bands carry the rest of the festival. Moreover, they have a commitment to showing off local businesses and art while letting their corporate sponsors set up booths and stages that serve as REAL alternative destinations away from the main stage fuckery. Now, San Diego almost certainly doesn’t have the rich musical history that a city like that does. But other S.D. fests like the Adams Avenue Street Fair have been going strong for years on this formula. AASF is free, but if Street Scene localized it a bit more, charged a little less and got some REAL headliners (M.I.A. and Black Eyed Peas just aren’t gonna cut it) while cutting down on the amount of mid-level national bands they book (Mastodon, Girl Talk, Deerhunter, etc.) then I think more people, at the least people from San Diego, would come out.

      • Nando permalink
        November 16, 2009 - 2:05 am 2:05 am


        How could you forget Get Back Loretta?!!

  5. edwin decker permalink
    November 16, 2009 - 12:20 am 12:20 am

    Well aren’t we all a bunch of back-seat-driving, Sunday-morning-quarterbacking, 20-20 hindsight-having queers.

    The fact of the matter is, Rob tried everything: He tried downsizing, he tried up-sizing and he tried side-sizing. He tried three-days, two-days, family days. He tried massive headliner exposure and then a limited headliner exposure. The bottom line is, in this economy, in this town, Street Scene had to die. Only the free or very cheap music festivals will survive.

    As a person who helps organize about a dozen music festivals around town, I can tell you – it’s a sumbitch of a business, even during a good economy.

    • Tim Flack permalink
      November 16, 2009 - 1:26 am 1:26 am

      Ed is right, the bottom line is that anything resembling the scale of Street Scene had to die, for now. Aside from booking fees paid to national acts, the infrastructure costs for an event like this must be staggering. Those costs, while partially offset by sponsorships and vendor fees drive the ticket prices based on attendance forecasts.

      Ultimately, attending music festivals like Street Scene represents a premium discretionary income expenditure. I know Rob tried structuring ticket deals that fit within the proper price point based on each years economic conditions. In the end I guess there was no price point low enough, even for the premium value that Street Scene represented.

      I sincerely hope we see the return of Street Scene once the current economic mess clears a bit.

    • Pitchfork permalink
      November 16, 2009 - 1:27 am 1:27 am

      How does Coachella? Bonnaroo? Lolla? Virgin? Treasure Island? Monolith? all make it? the last two are even small scale fest more in line with SS. The problem here is Hagey tried to sell the lineup too way to many people, and because of that no one bought into it. In 08 SS was packed, it was a huge success. It was cheap, you got a solid lineup worth the price of admission. This year most people paid 120, for a lot of talent that i’m sorry to say just wasn’t worth that price. Hagey, for the love of one of my fav. festivals, scale back. Make it more affordable. Well that is if he even gets a chance to revive SS.

      • edwin decker permalink
        November 16, 2009 - 2:06 pm 2:06 pm

        it differs because it’s not in San Diego. San Diego, aside from not really being a rock and roll-supporting crowd (not a complaint, just a statement of fact) it is also, as far as bureaucracy goes, one of the worst places in the country to throw a music festival. There are just too many hoops to jump through, too many expenditures, for example, double-fencing around beer gardens if the fence isn’t high enough, or paying the police and fire department 75 bucks an hour per officer, which they then ridiculously over-staff, costing the promoter an arm and a leg. The list goes on. The fact is, we are a very conservative city and, consequently, fun things are hard to pull off (another example are the ridiculous laws applied to strip bars that you don’t see in other cities.

        Tim Flack is right about me being right. For now, in San Diego, nothing so big as Street Scene is going to fly. Shit, even the small stuff is tough to pull off. Ever try to do a simple 3 band music showcase and get people to come out? Not easy. Not now.

  6. Pitchfork permalink
    November 16, 2009 - 1:23 am 1:23 am

    there are maybe 15 bands that are good, and only about 5 of them are special. New Orleans can do the local thing because they seem to have quality acts coming up all the time. SD can def. produce good/great bands, but right now it’s slim pickings. We’ll see how the scene progresses over the next couple of years.

  7. Nando permalink
    November 16, 2009 - 2:12 am 2:12 am

    Plenty of great banks from SD. The price was way too high though I agree. There needs to be a Sunday family day from days of Yore. Unlike other isolated towns like Coachella, San Diego has many more options of things to do. People consider Street Scene, but it’s not the only thing to do in town, and there are shows all the time. I myself would rather go see a show at the Casbah than head out to some overpriced, overcrowded, and unfriendly event anyway.

    • Nando permalink
      November 16, 2009 - 2:12 am 2:12 am


  8. November 16, 2009 - 1:34 pm 1:34 pm

    Okay, if there was an emphasis on local artists, wouldnt it be, “The Downtown Music Thing”, immediately following the NPMT? Maybe New Orleans has some, “Better scene”, because they don’t have a bunch of kids who try to emulate everything about LA…

  9. Pitchfork permalink
    November 16, 2009 - 2:28 pm 2:28 pm

    I don’t know about emulate. The problem in SD is I think the local scene people, are so serious about their scene that they will hype you, and make you seem better then what you really are. Most(if) not all bands from SD are copycats of another scene already going on. there is only a handful of great bands in SD. Look at Seth writing out over 40 of those bands, who besides a handful of them are just not very special, or particularly memorable. This philosophy mutated into the festival. People complained that the local scene wasn’t well represented, but the thing is why showcase them when you can get national, and international acts that anywhere else could draw a crowd? Also for people arguing the Coachella, and Bonnaroo get people is because they are in the middle of nowhere, or because SD has a lot going on can’t get people to go. Think about it, why is outsidelands so succesful? same goes for Lolla, Pitchfork festival, Monolith, ACL, and the other major festivals in major cities. Also most people who attend Coachella and Bonnaroo the middle of nowhere festivals, are from major cities. The problem is SS lost it’s identity, and it’s niche audience left along with the identity. I would love to work along side Hagey at putting a festival that SD, and it’s people can be proud of like it used to be. SS used to get coverage in all the major cities. Most of this ranting is because of my love for Street Scene, and the city that host this wonderful festival.

    • November 20, 2009 - 12:24 pm 12:24 pm

      So what are bands that you think are good bands, irregardless of city-of-origin? I’ve been to all the major “happening” cities (LA, Austin, Seattle, PDX, etc…) and there are plenty of non-descript, “copycat” bands in all those cities as well. It’s inevitable to have bands and scenes influencing each other. That’s just the way all things work. You can see it in Art, Architecture, Economics, etc… I think truly original bands are rare. Most of the popular bands, both indie and major label, are copycat, but that doesn’t necessarily make them bad bands.

      I don’t disagree with you on some of your points RE: SS, but the idea that there is only a handful of local good bands I think is way off. I think in SD the city’s culture itself is not an artistic town the way maybe SF is, but there’s a huge pool of talent in this town and a lot of people trying to do interesting things. Look at, Sight and Sound, SDRL, Black Box, Art Fag, etc…

  10. Pitchfork permalink
    November 16, 2009 - 2:30 pm 2:30 pm

    for the record I really like Tapedeck Mountain right now.

  11. November 16, 2009 - 5:08 pm 5:08 pm

    I’ve become a big Burning of Rome fan myself.

    I disagree with Pitchfork about the quality of SD bands out there right now. Of course, this is all subjective, but I think we have a large quantity of talent within an array of genres. Moreso than I’ve ever seen in San Diego before. Too bad they don’t draw the numbers, but that’s what you get when you live in a town that’s warm and sunny all the time – you get more of a day crowd type than night people. Again, not complaining, just making an observation.

  12. November 16, 2009 - 10:28 pm 10:28 pm

    I’m officially using this thread about the demise of Street Scene, to endorse my future favorite San Diego festival: ART FAG FEST, Nov 27th. No Age, Crocodiles, Dum Dum Girls, and Best Coast…. f*ck yeah

  13. jenjen permalink
    November 17, 2009 - 12:51 pm 12:51 pm

    What I liked about the pre-stadium downtown Street Scenes was the diversity of music. There was a preponderance of rock/punk stuff in the headliners, but also jazz, blues, reggae, electronica and experimental weird-ass shit. All side by side. The last few have really focused more on the 91X/94.9 audience with just a little other stuff around the edge. And OK, that’s good music, but I don’t really want two solid days of that.

  14. John permalink
    November 18, 2009 - 12:02 pm 12:02 pm

    Street Scene died when they tried to target kids rather than young adults that spend money. 21 and up only…go back to it.

  15. downtune permalink
    November 19, 2009 - 2:04 am 2:04 am

    So, have they officially announced that it won’t happen next year? I’m not reading that anywhere.

    Also, this may be a stupid question, but considering San Diego’s coastline, is there no place to have a smaller-street scene like event cerca la playa? What about that location on Mission Bay that Stay Classy used? Or, that spot in Oceanside that 94/9 used?

  16. grittywaffle permalink
    November 19, 2009 - 4:45 pm 4:45 pm

    dont forget pleasure device.

  17. Weese07 permalink
    November 21, 2009 - 2:23 pm 2:23 pm

    As a former Street Scene staffer, I’m sad to see/hear about the end of Street Scene. I fondly look back at the “five bands, five backs” early Street Scenes, all the way up to the amazing diverse line-up that kept attendees returning every year. Bands such as Zap Mama, Joan Armatrading, Alejandro Escovedo, Buddy Guy, Staple Singers, Cassandra Wilson, etc., made Street Scene a real musical force festival-wise. It’s unfortunate that SS producer Rob Hagey didn’t mix in our great local talent. It’s even more unfortunate that Rob started narrowing the musical menu to cater to only the under 25 crowd, who I know would of loved experiencing a diverse line-up. That said, I’m happy to be part of the Adams Avenue Street Fair, which has always highlighted our rich and talented local musicians, with a couple of headliners mixed in. And on a limited budget! The AASF will always mix it up musically and to vary the music to appeal to all-ages, not just one sector. Meantime, I wish Rob Hagey the best and sadly say, Street Scene RIP.

  18. sosumi permalink
    November 27, 2009 - 11:32 am 11:32 am

    I would like to start by telling Vanity impared, that the peas being overly amplified has nothing to do with Street Scene or sound company. They carry their own engineer and he drives the system…. one guys over amplied is another guys not enough…. just depends who’s driving the bus.

    Rob Hagey is an artist, but not the best businessman. I have stood on the sidelines for many years and watched very savy business people try to give Rob advice. Rob should of turned over most of the control of the event many years ago to people who could make the numbers work.
    Rob has always made the decisions on how things should be done. That worked until it didn’t. It’s all fixable though.
    Doing only couple national acts and scaling down to 4 stages like the old days may help it come back alive. puttiing it back to downtown streets would cut production costand use less PA. Overall party street fair could be revived with the side shows and little things that made it what it was. Rob could sell the street scene name, pay his debtors and still be invovled with his artisic vision with the new owner.

  19. effectedbyit... permalink
    December 8, 2009 - 12:59 pm 12:59 pm

    Rob Hagey dug his hole deeper and deeper every year, and unfortunately, did not think about how it effected his vendors or artists. Don’t feel sorry for this guy, he has been in this business long to know the ins and outs and what the expenses are, and the possibility of failure.. he should have never gone ahead with the event as a gamble, exposing his vendors and artists…
    I am speaking first hand as I was a vendor for street scene 09, and was not only written bad checks by Mr. hagey, but had signed contracts… His entire approach from start to finish was fraudulent, and consiquently my company is many of thousands of dollars in the hole because of his poor choices.
    He knew damn well what he was getting into, he is no fool, and like I said, had been doing this event long enough to know exactly what the costs are and what the profit is… and the risk- DON’T PITY ROB HAGEY pity his vendors who are out of pocket from basically doing a giant gig for FREE.
    It lost its soul anyway.. what about the diversity of Street Scene?? What happened to the eclectic line up, catering to the colorful population of San Diego..
    He sold out for money, it bit him in the ass… and lots of people are suffering for it.. If it DOES happen by some magic next year- I suggest SD not go to show their support

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