If you’re still not convinced touring is a hard business, here’s a heavy story from the world of international finance that may see metal legends Slayer coming up high and dry.
Back in 2019, the thrash titans sued the production team behind Iceland’s Secret Solstice festival for payments not received for the band’s performance the year before. But here’s where it gets tricky: no one seems to want to effectively own up to owing the band anything—possibly not even the high courts of Iceland, if what's being reported is true.
Slayer’s 2019 suit was filed against Solstice Productions, for the equivalent amount of $133,000 USD. It was then revealed that, despite never being paid to begin with, the sum was then taxed to the tune of 20 percent. Sure, 20 percent of nothing is still nothing, but this complex legal battle has so many layers, it’s practically comedic.
At a certain point in this tale, Solstice Productions went under before making good on their payment to K2 Agency Limited, the firm managing Slayer’s business dealings with the festival. What was left of Solstice Productions was sold off to three other companies, one of which being the Live Events firm, in a deal that was apparently brokered by the city of Reykjavik, where the Summer Solstice festival was held. Back in 2019, it was reported that Live Events' managing director Víkingur Heiðar Arnórsson stated that all debts would be settled.
It's not clear who else was owed money from festival organizers, but that point is now moot after a national court in Iceland overturned a district court's decision that upheld the initial lower-court decision that Live Events would settle the debts.
The court’s decision read in part “With regard to K2’s claims for damages… there was a final judgment that Friðrik Ólafsson should pay the financial claim. K2 had received legal storage in an apartment owned by Friðrik to secure the claim and demanded the forced sale of the apartment to enforce the claim. Therefore, the court did not consider that the financial claim of the agency company could be paid by Friðrik. It would not be timely to demand that… the three companies make the payments. Therefore, [they are] acquitted according to K2’s requirements at this time.”
So, essentially, according to the higher courts, someone named Friðrik Ólafsson was originally ruled liable for the debts owed, and it also seems implied that K2 already shook him down for whatever coin he had. Therefore, K2 cannot reasonably—in the view of Icelandic law—expect Live Events to pay the debt to Slayer because it is unclear what, if any, payments were made by Ólafsson.
Or, this is what I can best deduce based on what is being reported by Iceland's Visir. Regardless, the takeaway here is: Yes, obviously touring is a difficult endeavor. But it's very hard to ignore how one random festival in Iceland had more "business" arms than an octopus. Isn't there an easier way of putting together a festival?
As for Slayer, they played their final show in Los Angeles in November of 2019—and I don't think they're holding their breath in anticipation of payment.