After Messy 2023 Electric Zoo, Lawsuits Are Piling Up For Owner Avant Gardner


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Another group of Electric Zoo ticket buyers have filed a class action over what they call the “absolute fiasco” at this year’s festival, marking at least the fourth such lawsuit filed against promoter Avant Gardner, the organizer of the popular dance music event.

In a complaint filed Thursday in New York state court, lawyers for four attendees accused the Brooklyn-based company of false advertising, breach of contract and other wrongdoing over the event, which saw its Friday shows canceled at the last minute and Sunday plagued by problems.

“Normally this event is a transcendental audio-visual festival that creates everlasting thrilling memories for tens of thousands of EDM fans,” their lawyers wrote. “And while it did create everlasting memories in 2023, the memories created were not the ones which ticket holders were looking forward to.”


The “oversold, grossly understaffed” festival was “nothing short of an absolute fiasco,” attorneys for the concertgoers wrote, resulting in “long lines, massive overcrowding, and a literal stampede of people when it was discovered that the organizers oversold tickets.” The case was filed on behalf of Billy Ting, Duoc Vo, Garry Huang, Jeffrey Wang and Joshua Chin, but said it aims to represent as many as 75,000 ticketbuyers who had similar experiences.

Electric Zoo, held annually on New York City’s Randall’s Island, is one of the country’s top electronic dance festivals, but this year’s iteration – the second by Avant Gardner since the company acquired the festival in 2022 — was marred by issues.

First came an abrupt cancellation of Friday evening, meaning no performances by top names like The Chainsmokers and Kx5. That was followed by a delayed start and long lines on Saturday, and then a chaotic Sunday in which thousands of ticketholders were denied entry after the site reached capacity. Some fans jumped fences or ran through security checkpoints as a group.

Avant Gardner, which promised refunds for Friday and for anyone turned away on Sunday, blamed the problems on “global supply chain disruptions.” But sources later told Billboard that the Friday shutdown largely had stemmed from the promoter’s failure to pay vendors from last year’s festival, leading to a shortage of experienced concert professionals willing to work at this year’s event. Those shortages led to issues that caused city officials to withhold permitting approval until they were fixed. Citing internal sources, the New York Post also attributed the problems to staffing issues, as well as to a planning process that allegedly started months later than usual for a festival of its size and complexity.


Additionally, Sunday’s problems were caused by overselling the event by 7,000 people, according to an NYPD estimate reported by local news outlets. Shortly after the festival, Mayor Eric Adams suggested the city might launch an investigation into Avant Gardner over the debacle: “It’s unfortunate that the organizers wanted to turn our city into a zoo.”

Thursday’s lawsuit is at least the fourth such class action filed over the messy event. The first, filed on Sept. 13 in federal court, said Avant Gardner had caused “a nightmare endured by thousands of electronic music fans.” Another, filed just three days later in the same court, said the organizers had “lied to their guests at every opportunity.” In a third lawsuit, a Connecticut man said the festival’s “lack of planning and overselling of tickets” had caused dangerous overcrowding that caused him to “fear for his life.”

The specifics are varied, but all four lawsuits allege roughly similar forms of wrongdoing: That the Electric Zoo organizers misled ticket buyers, that they broke promises to concertgoers, and that they were negligent in failing to prevent the problems. Each case is seeking to represent hundreds or thousands of fans, and some or all of the cases could eventually be combined into a single, consolidated action.

A representative for Avant Gardner did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Electric Zoo class actions are only the latest legal issues for Avant Gardner, which operates an 80,000 square foot, multi-venue facility in Brooklyn’s East Williamsburg neighborhood. The company and owner Jürgen “Billy” Bildstein have clashed for years with the State Liquor Authority over allegations of drug use and other safety issues, including a 2020 agreement in which the company agreed to a $100,000 fine and to retain an independent safety monitor.

In August, that state-appointed monitor, T&M Security LLC, sued the company, claiming Avant Gardner had terminated the arrangement prematurely and then refused to pay its fees. A month earlier, another case claimed that security guards had assaulted patrons while searching them for drugs during a pride event.

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