Festival season is soon approaching in Canada and one opportunist organizer has seemingly put together a lineup of dreams for a potential festival in Montreal’s Old Port in June. The catch? The festival isn’t actually happening.
On Instagram, a page named “festivalauroramtl” posted a series of lineups featuring superstars like Harry Styles, Doja Cat, Tyler, the Creator, and SZA. Also billed is Charli XCX, Caroline Polachek, Khalid, Ice Spice, Ashnikko, Troye Sivan, FKA Twigs, and Kevin Abstract.
The Vieux-Port de Montreal, which oversees operations in Montreal’s Old Port district, confirmed that the festival wasn’t legitimate, per MTL Blog.
“We learned about this festival like the general public, through social media and their online platform,” Kaven Gauthier, Vieux-Port de Montreal’s spokesperson told MTL Blog. “A festival with such popular names would have to be planned months in advance and neither the SVPM nor the other partners on our territory (Port-de-Montréal / Grand Quai) were approached.”
In the account’s bio is a link to the promoter’s website which leads to ticket purchases. Off the bat, each day cost nearly as much as a full weekend at Montreal’s other festivals. The three days sold for $325, $275, and $350 respectively, totalling $900 for the weekend, nearly triple what typical festival weekends cost.
Though the pricing immediately rings doubt into the festival’s legitimacy, one Instagram user “Mayorofmontreal” posted a series of stories in which they dissect the many hints showing how the festival is a scam.
The user, who goes by Sam, started by searching for the artists’ availabilities in June and found out that most had already been booked for tours in Europe, making a last-minute travel day to another continent impossible.
They had found Harry Styles booked shows in France the same weekend the Aurora Festival was scheduled to take place. FKA Twigs will perform in Barcelona on the same weekend she was supposedly booked for Aurora. Caroline Polacheck is also set to perform in Barcelona that weekend. Sam reached out to Polachek’s management and got a response confirming that Polacheck had, in fact, not been booked to come to Montreal in June.
Sam went even further and discovered that the promoter, Groupe Cenari, isn’t even a year old yet. They raised concerns about how a brand-new festival could pull stars of that magnitude without any proof that they could handle it.
Sam then reached out to the festival’s promoters individually on Instagram to question its legitimacy.
In a screenshot Sam sent to Complex Canada, a user named Alessio Piccolo, told them that the Cenari team is still new and that putting together a festival of that size takes a certain amount of luck. Piccolo then doubled down by saying American Express and Pepsi had signed on as sponsors and by saying Cenari has “a lot of credibility” referencing a sex-oriented show they had allegedly put together in the past.
After reaching out to American Express, both MTL Blog and La Presse have independently confirmed that it hasn’t partnered with Cenari, nor does Cenari have permission to use its logo.
La Presse also confirmed that in five days, Cenari has made over $7,000 in fraudulent ticket sales.
La Presse reached out to Kyllian Mahieu, Cenari’s president and CEO, who learned on Thursday that his company had been implicated in a scam. Mahieu blamed Cenari’s co-founder Nathan Scuderi.
“He’s screwing up my life,” Mahieu told La Presse. “I don’t even know if I’m going to make it. It’s surreal that something like this could happen to me.”
Despite several attempts, both over the phone and at the address listed under Cenari, La Presse could not reach Scuderi for comments.
Mahieu claims he is one of several victims of Scuderi’s fraud attempts. La Presse spoke with his former collaborators and friends, who told the publication that he was manipulative.