Music fest steers clear of Red Hook

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A controversial music festival has made its great escape, leaving Red Hook’s working waterfront for less hostile shores.

The planned Escape Music Festival, which drew ire from neighbors concerned about an influx of thousands of drunk concert-goers for two straight days of live music, has moved from the Red Hook Container Terminal to Governors Island, festival organizers announced on Monday morning. An organizer later said the cancellation was due to “unforeseen regulatory pressures,” and, though he declined to elaborate, the Port Authority never issued the required permits for the shindig.

The promoter, Merritt Quirk, denied that the lack of permits or a backlash from neighbors and the local community board contributed to the 11th-hour move. Instead, he cryptically placed the blame on the issue blasted by pols in last week’s cover story about the concert in this paper: the threat to industrial business posed by the conversion of the port facility, however temporarily, into a booming nightclub.

“It had nothing to do with security planning, permits or the community board,” Quirk wrote in an e-mail. “More so to do with the port being used for non-maritime activities.”

The concert is scheduled for Oct. 11 and 12 and is set to feature big-name acts including Moby and Yeasayer. Word of the event set off alarm-bells among locals following a Sept. 12 party at the terminal held by Vice Media and Absolut Vodka. That electronic-dance-music blowout featured strong drinks, booming bass, and drones buzzing overhead to film the revelry, according to neighbors who attended a community board meeting to tell the port’s operators that the upcoming festival wasn’t welcome.

After initially down-playing the role of the backlash in prompting the venue change, he later blamed the dance party.

“The liquor event at Pier 9 had a lot to do with it,” he said.

The upcoming bash is expected to draw as many as 16,000 music fans. The move to Governors Island will allow it to rage until midnight, an hour later than it was scheduled in Red Hook.

A Port Authority spokesman implied that festival organizers didn’t satisfy certain requirements, but refused to say which.

“We have regulations, and when they’re not met, we don’t sign the agreement,” said Lenis Rodrigues.

The container terminal is run by a private company contracted by the Port Authority. Representatives of the operator, owners of which run beer distributor Phoenix Beverages, told residents at a Sept. 17 Community Board 6 meeting that they wouldn’t book any more events without consulting the community.

The Port Authority has refused to say how much money, if any, it collected from the Vice-and-vodka party.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Comments from Merritt Quirk and Lenis Rodrigues added. Context added.
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Reasonable discourse

who know's from Columbia St says:
Did anyone hear about a new stone unloading operation at the end of Atlantic or Congress?

Is this dusty/sandy operation suppose to replace the salt dust we've been eating for the last several years? And I'm told there are no regulations to cover it like the salt was.

Sounds like another blessing for the neighborhood! What's next Phoenix & PA? Madness!
Sept. 30, 2014, 1:17 pm

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