What the hell did I just watch?

If the XO Festival in Antioch is trying to convince people their festival this weekend isn’t going to be a disappointment, they’re not doing a great job with the promo video they posted June 25.

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That’s not a knock at the video’s host Bully Wiz, who has captured my attention the last few weeks as I follow the inevitable dumpster fire that is XO Fest. Bully is simply a hired host, he’s been holding it down in the rap game for some time and he aint playin’ when he reps the Bay.

And like any good host, he can only work with what’s been handed to him, which in this case is an ugly, run-down fairgrounds complex that looks like an abandoned jail. From the drone-fly overs of the Antioch swap meet to the large landscape shots of the Contra Costa Event Park’s mostly dead grass field, this video feells like one big troll roll of anyone willing to invest four-and-a-half-minutes of their time suspending belief that any of what Bully Wiz is promising will actually take place.

Sorry XO Fest, but I just have a hard time believing your event is going to have a 100-foot-wide stage with 20-foot wings that can shoot fire, water and LED special effects. Same goes for the claim that 10,000 people are gonna show up, or that you’re gonna host a giant foam pit or that the ultra-VIP backstage area will be remotely ultra or VIP.

Why should you not believe XO Fest? Because they have been caught lying multiple times. Organizer Sami Habib is really Habibullah Qadir, who was recently arrested for fraud with his 30-year-old brother Mohammed Qadir in Fremont for elaborate real estate scams. When we sought more information about their contract with the Contra Costa Event Park, CEO Joe Brengle tried to cover up the men’s identity. Bands like Will to Power are telling us they’ve pulled out because they haven’t been paid while the Bay Area Rapid Transit informed us that they had to send a cease and desist to XO Festival to have them take BART’s logo off their sponsorship page.

It’s really sad because Antioch, California is a town that could use some positivity. It’s a town I used to live in as a kid and attended a Catholic grade school called Holy Rosary. When you talk about the East Bay, Antioch is about as far east as it gets and used to be a nice blue collar, working-class town. For the last decade, the city has seen a big spike in lawlessness with violent crime nearly double the national average. Over the weekend, two women were shot and one died and the city has been ravaged by the foreclosures, gangs and the opioid crisis.

It’s a town people used to believe in and even proudly call home that is now going through a pretty rough spell, and it’s a shame to see the people of XO Fest take advantage of people’s hope that something positive might happen in the city. And look, if this was a scaled down event that was the appropriate size for a first-year festival, then I might believe it’s actually going to take place. But to claim it’s gonna have seven stages, two silent discos, celebrities, culinary leaders and the cast of Jersey Shore is nonsense and such an obvious lie, I’m astounded that more people don’t see right through it.

Dave Brooks
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Dave Brooks

Founder & Executive Editor at Amplify Media
Dave Brooks has over 15 years experience as a writer, including eight years as the Managing Editor of Venues Today. He started Amplify in 2014 to give the industry its own voice and turn up the volume on live entertainment.
Dave Brooks
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