Sports Team among acts to pull out of Hit The North Festival over SSD Concerts allegations

Many performers have cancelled their scheduled appearances at today's event

Sports Team are among the many acts to have pulled out of today’s Hit The North Festival over allegations levelled at the event’s promoters, SSD Concerts.

The managing director of the northeast-based company, Steve Davis, resigned with “immediate effect” back in April, shortly after former staff members accused SSD of “underpaying” workers and making them feel “uncomfortable” while doing their job.

The promoters initially denied the claims, calling them “false and malicious”, and insisting that they do “not tolerate bullying, harassment or discrimination in any form”. Artists including Sam Fender, IDLES and Kelly Lee Owens subsequently severed ties with SSD.

SSD Concerts then said that an independent investigation would be held, writing in a statement to NME: “The wellbeing of our team is of the upmost importance and any allegations of this nature must be investigated thoroughly.”

The company explained that it would be “taking steps to ensure that all shows will go ahead” and is promoting Hit The North Festival 2021, which is taking place in Newcastle today (October 23).

SSD Concerts
SSD Concerts – Credit: Twitter/Press

It comes after SSD yesterday (October 22) addressed “serious sexual allegations”. The promoters wrote that “no evidence of racism, misogyny or sexual misconduct was found against the managing director” during an independent HR investigation. SSD did, however, acknowledge that it “could and should have done better” in relation to poor business practices (via Chronicle Live).

Following the statement, the likes of Sports Team, Oscar Lang, NOISY and Vistas have taken to social media to boycott Hit The North Festival 2021 due to its link to SSD Concerts.

“We will not be playing Hit The North today,” wrote Sports Team, who were set to sub-headline beneath DMA’S. “Apologies for those who had tickets to see us, will try to rearrange something in Newcastle as soon as we can.”

Announcing that he had withdrawn from the festival, Lang tweeted: “As much as we love playing shows, we don’t love supporting sexual misconduct allegations. Newcastle we love you and we will be back xxx.”

NOISY, meanwhile, said that they would instead be performing their own free show at Newcastle’s Head Of Steam at 7pm. “See you later for beers,” they wrote.

The Goa Express explained that they had pulled out of Hit The North Festival “due to the ongoing issues surrounding SSD”, adding: “Thank you to those informing us and bringing light to the situation.”

Poppy Jo, who’s the lead singer of Manchester group HI SIENNA, shared a “personal statement regarding my band having to pull out of Hit The North”.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see so many people attacking artists for just trying to do their thing and play their music, having nothing to do with any accusations or alleged knowledge of wrongful behaviour,” she wrote.

The singer called on fans to “please keep supporting the music, the bands and small artists” who have suffered “a huge loss” as a result of cancelling their performances. You can see her full statement along with more posts below.

Hit The North Festival is yet to comment on the mass cancellations. NME has contacted the event for comment.

Following the HR investigation, Steve Davis said in a statement: This has been a very sobering process to go through. I haven’t always got things right and if this has affected anyone, I am sorry. I thank all staff past and present for their honesty and feedback which will help the business move forward.”

Investigators concluded their report: “Overall, the level of familiarity between employees and Steve Davis as managing director has blurred the boundaries of professional relationships within the workplace which has been exacerbated by the industry within which they work.

“Some ACAS courses were booked for attendance by Steve Davis and other employees with management responsibilities. This would go some way to help provide some understanding with regards to the issues related to harassment, equality, diversity, and inclusivity.”

They continued: “The reflections of Steve Davis are reassuring. He has a level of awareness from this process and these events and will not engage in any contact or conversation that could lend itself to misinterpretation again in the future, reinforced by the fact there is now executive director awareness and oversight.”

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