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Electronic Music Fest Cuts Concerts After City Denies Permits

By Mathew Katz | October 24, 2013 6:55am
 The Pier of Fear concerts attract thousands of partygoers. 
The Pier of Fear concerts attract thousands of partygoers. 
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Facebook/Pier of Fear

HELL'S KITCHEN — A massive Halloween-themed electronic music festival was forced to cancel some of its shows and offer refunds after failing to get permits to use city-owned piers, city officials said — but it's still selling tickets to the cut shows.

The popular Pier of Fear, which draws nearly 10,000 revelers to its all-night raves on Halloween at Pier 92/94, was advertising on its website "5 Nights with the World's Top DJs" on Oct. 25, 26 and 31 and Nov. 1 - 2, with tickets ranging from $65 to $75 still available for purchase on Wednesday.

But according to the city's Economic Development Corporation, which regulates the piers, the festival's organizers were only given permits to run parties on the pier on Oct. 26, 31 and Nov. 2 — not for the Oct. 25 and Nov. 1 shows.

Organizers Pacha NYC disputed the city's account on its Facebook page, claiming the permits for a five-day event were granted and then revoked. 

"Although we were originally granted permits for five shows, due to recent events, the City of New York has denied permits for two of the days," organizers Pacha NYC wrote on their Facebook page.

The piers at West 54th Street and the Hudson River typically host conventions and fashion shows, but over the past two years they have also begun to host raucous electronica parties.

Pacha is offering full refunds to people holding tickets for the canceled nights, and they plan to relocate the Oct. 25 concert featuring DJ Laidback Luke to their West 46th Street club, they said. Ticket holders can attend that show and still get a 20 percent refund, organizers said.

"After the sell-out success of Pier of Fear last year, this was set to be another blow out event during Halloween," the Facebook note continued.

"Please be assured that we and the artists tried every possible way to have the show go on, however due to recent local events (which were out of our and the artist’s control) it was simply not possible."

Pacha did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The cancellation was welcome news to Hell's Kitchen residents who have had to deal with the noise and crowds in previous years.

Locals living near the riverside piers — and even as far east as Eighth Avenue — have complained they can feel the beat of the concert's heavy bass until 4 a.m., and that drunken partiers take hours to stream out of their neighborhood after the concerts end.

"During the last concert, I tried to sleep in my bathtub — because my bathroom doesn't have a window — but I could still feel the bass, it was still shaking," said Lilly Pollack, 47, who lives a block away from the piers.

Representatives from Pacha, city officials and the Midtown North NYPD precinct met with Community Board 4 members and concerned residents Tuesday night to discuss their concerns. At the meeting, Pacha's owners promised to maintain order at the shows and hire additional security staff.

For Pollack and dozens of other residents, along with local block associations, the fact that the concerts are able to go on at all is unacceptable.

"The neighborhood, it's suburbia, it's wonderful. It's really not the kind of place to have this 10,000-people-a-night party," Pollack said.

"It's not the building for concerts — it's like a boom box at the top of the river."