Behind Canada's Last-Minute Concert For Japan Fundraiser
Behind Canada's Last-Minute Concert For Japan Fundraiser

Concert promoters from Dubai are hoping to pull off an ambitious two-day Concert For Japan fundraiser in Toronto Sept. 3 to 4. The venue is Downsview Park, the site of the Rolling Stones-headlined SARS concert in 2003 that drew an estimated half-million people, Canada's largest outdoor ticketed event to date.

The founders of Center Stage Management / Scorpio International don't have expectations quite that high, but sisters Jackie Wartanian and Lara Teperdjian are still expecting 15,000 people a day, even though the event was only announced at the beginning of August and is scheduled for the final long-weekend of the summer.

"Yes it is tight, but we're not worried at all because it's not our first time doing something like this," Teperdjian told Billboard. "We have put on a show [50 Cent/G-Unit] two weeks before an event before, last minute. And in the Middle East you have to do everything on the sand so you can imagine confirming an artist two weeks before it's supposed to happen and then we have to get the stage up, the porta cabins, all these things. So if we can do that on a dessert, I'm sure we can do it here."

The headliners were only announced on August 19, FT Island headline the first day, -- marking the K-pop band's first time in North America -- and DJ Paul Oakenfold tops the second day's bill.

Day one will also include a DJ set by Roger Sanchez, as well as rock and indie artists Abandon All Ships, The Envy, Atomic Tom, Evaline, Vas Vega and traditional Japanese drummers Yaudo. Day two, meanwhile, is dedicated to dance and pop such as Karl Wolf, Sam Tsui, The SoniXx, DJ P4L4DiN, Ricky J, and The Devil Concubines. An added attractions are a suspended bar eight stories above the crowd and a zip line, as well as a DJ battle and a "cosplay" anime/manga costume contest.

Tickets aren't cheap at $75 Canadian dollars ($76. 5 U.S) for one day; $130 for both (children are free), on sale at Ticketbreak.com and various retailers. One hundred percent of all net proceeds, through ticket, merchandise purchases and donations go towards Ashinaga, Japan Earthquake Relief Foundation, and Global Giving.

"Both days are selling well," event coordinator Kris Christie emailed Billboard late in the day yesterday (Aug. 29). "Saturday Sept. 3rd is near 6,000 and tickets are selling every hour and Sunday Sept. 4 exploded today. It went from 14 three days ago to 5000-plus today and those tickets are selling by the hour."

Center Stage Management / Scorpio International, which has put on the Desert Rock Festival, Desert Rhythm Festival and the Urban Desert Festival in the Middle East, and brought in such names as Iron Maiden, Robert Plant, Incubus, Muse, Joss Stone and Kanye West, says Teperdjian, has never promoted a show in Canada before.
"We were approached by Canadians David Kam, an artist, and award-winning director Abbey Neidik and they presented this charity event idea," says Teperdjian. "Jackie and I are really impressed by the Japanese and their culture and we've very saddened by what happened and wanted to do something to help. We're doing the event itself. Abbey is doing the documentary as well as broadcasting and David is in charge of general."

With just three weeks to promote Concert For Japan, Teperdjian says her team has been getting word out via street teams, viral marketing and radio. "We're trying to implement what we do in other festivals," she says.

Asked how much she expects the event to raise and she says her "wish" is a million dollars . "It's not based just on ticket sales; it's based on the community and the company brands and others around the world who will be texting in and donating.

"Everyone coming together and that's what we look forward to and just have our last weekend of fun and, at the same time, it is a great cause," says Teperdjian "We want to support and celebrate Japan. We're not looking for teardrops. We're celebrating them because your everyday life somehow is influenced by Japan."