Avant Gardner — the Brooklyn venue that’s been mired in controversy all summer — may be in hot water for the foreseeable future as it looks at two lawsuits coupled with a recent festival weekend being called “a fiasco.”
The venue has been making headlines since at least June following the disappearance and subsequent death of psychologist Karl Clemente after he was turned away from Gardner’s summer arm of the venue, Brooklyn Mirage. Days after being reported missing, Clemente’s body was recovered from Newtown Creek a few blocks away, the same creek where Goldman Sachs analyst and Miragegoer John Castic’s body was found after going missing upon leaving the club on July 29.
The two incidences — and then some, including a reported near-strangling circulated on Facebook and Reddit — have intensified long-held complaints from attendees about overcrowding, overselling, steep prices, harsh security, and general lack of safety (in part due to poor cell service, which can cause difficulty when trying to call an Uber or Lyft, or even load directions after leaving).
But it’s not all just complaints on social media. Last month, lawyer Jacob Chen and other former patrons filed a $7.5 million lawsuit against Allstar Security & Consulting and AG Security Group citing unfair treatment, abuse, and harassment (verbal and sexual in nature) from security at Brooklyn Mirage events, as per a report by Bushwick Daily. And two weeks ago, Avant Gardner’s hired security firm, T&M Security LLC, also filed a six-count civil suit for $2.6 million civil accusing the venue of breach of contract, defamation, and more, which follows their alleged premature and illegal ending of their liquor sale monitoring agreement and lack of payment.
Regarding the second suit, Avant Gardener has had a fraught relationship with the New York State Liquor Authority for years, with their liquor license being in jeopardy earlier this year. Disciplinary actions in the past have included paying $100,000 in penalties and hiring the aforementioned T&M Security LLC to monitor and report to the SLA.
And if $10.1 million in lawsuits isn’t enough, the venue will likely be looking at refunds and many credit card chargebacks after Electric Zoo this past weekend. Last summer, Avant Gardner acquired Made Event and their premiere event, Electric Zoo, the popular Randall’s Island EDM festival, for $15 million. But the weekend certainly didn’t go off without a hitch — the first day, Friday, September 1, was canceled and attendees were informed via social media three hours before gates opening. The festival said the cancellation was due to “global supply chain disruptions” which impacted their ability to complete main stage construction in time, and a City Hall spokesperson later confirmed that “when city agency teams were on site this morning, construction on the stages was not complete, and the grounds were not prepared to safely host thousands of attendees” in a statement.
Then, on Sunday, Electric Zoo posted an update at 6:35 p.m., roughly three hours before headliner Marshmello (and hours before other big-name acts like Nora En Pure, Zeds Dead, Dom Dolla, and Major Lazer), that the festival had reached capacity and would not be letting any ticket holders not already on Randall’s Island into the grounds and would issue full refunds to those denied entry.
According to social media videos that surfaced, hundreds began to rush the security gates and entrances and The Festive Owl, long considered a reputable online voice in live entertainment, called it “chaos” and a “fiasco.”
Avant Gardner and Electric Zoo have not made any additional comments since.