Promoter Said to Have Ghosted Louisville Deathfest Without Paying the Bands or Venue

  • Axl Rosenberg

Update, October 3, 10:01 a.m.: Ms. Pugh has e-mailed us to say she had help pulling this off:

“Christopher J Smith of Tyranny Enthroned was the man who drove to AJ’s house and forced him to pay the venue while he was on the phone with the venue manager. 
“Zak Denham of Anagnorisis had the great idea to make it a free show and had my back when we’d hit a snag. He even grabbed a hold at another venue in case we needed to move the show. 
“Before the doors even opened for day 2, I had a pow wow with the members of most of the bands (who I’d worked with previously fortunately) and informed them of the situation, that there would be no guarantee of payment and that they were free to drop if offered a paying show elsewhere. Every single band stayed. They are the real MVP’s.”
Original story follows below.

This may sound like a weird comparison, but being a concert promoter is kind of like being a spy: your successes generally go unnoticed by the world at large, but your fuck-ups… well those can get you the wrong kind of attention real fast.

Such is the case of AJ Lucas, the promoter of this past weekend’s Louisville Deathfest. The fest, which included bands such as Arkaik, Vale of Pnath, Pyrrhon, Anagnorisis, and Imperial Triumphant, did not exactly go off without a hitch. Specifically: several of the bands on the bill are alleging that Lucas, upon realizing the event wasn’t going to be a financial success, Irish good-bye’d everyone without paying the bands or the venue. If the story has a somewhat happy ending, it’s only because of the fans and the hard work of Invictum Promotions‘ Kayla Nicole Pugh, who made the second day of the fest free and got the word out to fans that they should buy merch to make up for the lost wages resulting from Lucas being shady.

Several accounts of the incident from bands who were on the bill follow below.

Artifical Brain:

“We’re heading home from Louisville Deathfest right now and we’ve had a strange trip. The promoter of the festival didn’t pay some of the bands at the first night, then left the festival with no apparent plan to return. It seems like he wasn’t prepared to take a financial loss after a lower than expected turnout, and so chose to leave. The venue hadn’t even been paid for for a second day.

“Kayla Nicole Pugh, who had no prior involvement with the festival, took it upon herself to take control of the situation — to contact the bands, get running orders squared away, and perform most of the annoying and stressful administrative duties of a festival promoter. The money for the venue got taken care of, and the fest went off as smoothly as can possibly be expected, under what were some pretty crazy circumstances.

“As a result of the mess, the show became free entry and attendees were encouraged to buy merch to support bands that wouldn’t be making a cent for their effort and travel expenses. We, to give one example, had paid for a van rental for the weekend to make this show — lots of the other acts were in similar situations. Because of Kayla’s hard work, and because of the incredible support of the fans who showed up, this show ended up being an absolute success.

All of this is to say that we want to thank everyone involved in the show that actually happened today. This could so easily have fallen apart, and it didn’t, because of some really generous and supportive people. Also, if you’re putting on a metal show, either be prepared to lose money or do something else.”


“Hello friends,

“If you follow us, or any of the many insanely talented bands who we played with at Louisville Deathfest, you’re probably aware that many bands like us drove 1000+ miles and were not compensated by the promoter, who left the first night early and did not appear for the second day at all. Despite that, we had a hell of a time playing and watching so many talented bands that deserve support for the incredible things they do. Many thanks to Mrs. Pugh and others whom took over responsibility of day 2 to ensure that it ran at all and smoothly.

“Prior to LDF we asked for your support on helping us with getting the van fixed. Right now we are travelling home in the rust bucket we call the WhAmiensus van, with almost no troubles, but plenty still in need of repair. We still are keeping our insane prices and will update the shop once home with more merch sizes for most shirts and other apparel and would appreciate your continued support as we work on album 3. If you can also, find any of the awesome bands who played this fest and pickup a copy of their album/s or a shirt. Special shout out to the Oubliette crew whom we’ve been dying to play with and meet for quite some time!”


Had a lot of fun playing and attending Louisville Deathfest, made a lot of new friends and all the other bands were as gnarly as I expected them to be and more.

Now let’s have a chat about shitty promoters and shitty planning. Because holy shit, what a guy. Day 1 ended up getting 3 hours behind schedule by the end of the night since the promoter thought that 10 minute change overs in between bands would be a good idea. Towards the end of the night he bailed, and didn’t pay any of the bands. Day 2 comes around, we’re planning on confronting him about not paying us and he’s nowhere to be found again. He was gonna completely bail on the show and all the bands who had traveled 1000+ miles to be there. Luckily some awesome feller confronted him at is house and made him pay the final venue fee’s so the show could actually happen. But he was fully prepared to bail completely and fuck over all of the Day 2 bands.

HUGE thanks to Kayla Nicole Pugh for being awesome and stepping up to keep the show going. Regardless of the circumstances, I’m still glad every band was still given the opportunity to play. I was only able to stick around for the first half of day 2, but thanks to everyone’s willingness to work together to make sure the show still happened, it went down a lot smoother than day 1.

I think it’s important to share experiences like this as a reminder that as an artist, there are a lot of people out there who are more than happy to completely fuck you over. So don’t let them, and if they do hold them accountable. Collectively these bands are owed thousands of dollars that we’ll probably never see, but on the other side of the coin, I don’t think anyone will be working with this guy any time soon.

Also, I’m extremely grateful that the vast majority of people I’ve been working with for the past couple of years with Ashbringer are awesome and always make sure we are fairly compensated for our work. You know who you are and we appreciate the shit out of you.”

Whether or not Louisville Deathfest will return next year with a new promoter or not remains to be seen, but this much is for sure: ain’t no metal band gonna book a show with AJ Lucas ever again.

[via Metal Injection]

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