‘Cheated’: Migos show met with absence, arrests


Moss Brennan, Reporter

Story by Moss Brennan, News Editor

Feature Photo by Jules Blaylock, Chief Copy Editor

Timeline by Nora Smith, Editor-in-Chief

Video by Logan Berg, Video Editor

Section 1: Bringing Migos to App

Section 2: Show Time

Section 3: Aftermath

Section 4: Contractual Dilemma

When Jake Ostrow, the former adviser to APPS, heard what was happening at the end of the Migos show at App State, he was astounded.

“Sorry for the s—storm that’s going to surround this date. I am pretty much speechless,” Ostrow wrote in emails obtained via a public record request. Ostrow could not be reached for comment.

After the show, rumors that Migos, the Grammy nominated rap trio, had been arrested began to fly. People on Twitter said they had seen the group’s tour bus getting searched. The members of the group include Quavo, Offset and Takeoff.

According to an article in Rolling Stone, two members of the group, Quavo and Offset, were arrested after a show at Georgia Southern University for gun and drug related charges.

Andy Stephenson, App State police chief and director of public safety, said he knew some members of the group were detained by Boone Police Department after the concert but he was not clear on any identities or potential charges.

Kenneth Simpson, tour and production manager for Migos, and Danny Zook, manager of Migos, did not comment at the time.

It wasn’t until early in the morning on April 6 that Boone police released a statement.

Boone police officers working security at the Holmes Convocation Center noticed an “obvious odor of marijuana coming from the band’s vehicle” as it left. Officers stopped the vehicle on NC Highway 105 where a search of the vehicle led to three people being charged.

The troubles didn’t end there. Migos’ payment for performing was put on hold the following day. Students complained about Offset not performing and some questioned the motives of Boone police pulling the vehicle over.

With April 5 behind them, Dustin Evatt-Young said he hopes the public reactions to the arrests does not create a barrier for bringing more diverse performances to campus.

Section 1: Bringing Migos to App  

“I would have loved to put tickets on sale in December or November but until we get that contract from the agent we obviously can’t announce anything.” Evatt-Young

The official announcement about Migos’ concert in the Holmes Convocation Center was on Feb. 20, but the work to get Migos to App State began long before that.

Choosing the acts that perform at App State isn’t just a one-person job within the Appalachian Popular Programing Society. Members of the council get together and brainstorm a list of potential performers.

“Migos was our first option and then our second option was A$AP Rocky,” Alexandra LaRocca, sophomore electronic media and broadcasting major and now publicist for Main Stage (formerly Concerts), said.

Emma Forbes, Concerts chairperson for APPS last year and senior public relations major, said that they started the brainstorm session in fall 2017.

There are six other councils in APPS including Film, Special Events and Club Shows

APPS looks holistically at the artist including how the artist meets the goal of APPS, Dustin Evatt-Young, associate director of campus activities and adviser to Executive Council and Main Stage council, said.

APPS’ mission statement is: “The Appalachian Popular Programming Society educates and entertains the entire Appalachian State community through diverse programming and engagement opportunities.”

“After (brainstorming), we start to negotiate and start to work with the agents and see really what type of entertainment is possibly routed through the area,” Evatt-Young said. “It’s a little tricky with Boone. Obviously us being on top of a mountain makes it a little difficult because we’re a secondary market for a lot of entertainment.”

One way APPS gets around Boone’s secondary market is by looking for groups that are coming up from Atlanta or Charlotte to the D.C. area and pulling them in to perform, Evatt-Young said.

Once APPS’ members have a group in mind to perform at App State, they talk to their advisers, who then take it to the middle agent.

“We have a middle agent that we work with and it’s this person — this company that is the middle agent between a university and a larger agency or (those) booking entertainers,” Evatt-Young said.

The middle agent, Jon Hardage of More Music Group, then contacts the group to receive price quotes. Hardage could not be reached for comment.

More Music Group has been working with different college campus organizations since 1981.

“Our agents will guide your organization through the entire booking process from band selection to day of show execution,” according to its website.

More Music Group works with students and advisers, explains acts that have been problematic in the past and negotiates on the university’s behalf.

Tickets went on sale on Feb. 26, six days after the show was officially announced. The floor tickets sold out to students in “15 minutes of going on sale,” Evatt-Young wrote in an email.

Tickets went on sale online to students with the passcode APPSTIRFRY244. 

“I would have loved to put tickets on sale in December or November but until we get that contract from the agent, we obviously can’t announce anything,” Evatt-Young said.

Once ticket sales went online, there was a set timeline for who was able to buy tickets for the show. Because students pay the student activity fee, they get the first chance to buy tickets, Evatt-Young said. Only students were able to buy tickets for the first two weeks, then faculty, staff and alumni. The public was the last group able to purchase tickets.

“Our thought process was that a lot of our younger alumni probably have heard of Migos. And how are we making sure that faculty and staff that are also directly associated with the university have the opportunity first before it goes to the public?” Evatt-Young said.

Jeff Cathey, director of student engagement and leadership, said that APPS is charged with programming first and foremost for the students so they try to allow students to get as many tickets as possible.

Evatt-Young said they were worried tickets would sell out right away, which happened with Lil Wayne when he performed at Holmes Convocation Center, so they wanted to make sure as many students as possible could get the tickets.

The original plan was to sell out to only students, faculty, staff and alumni, but that didn’t happen.

“After (ticket sales opened to students, faculty, staff and alumni) quite frankly we were still a little surprised that we didn’t sell out at that point,” Evatt-Young said.

Evatt-Young continued and said they opened up another layer of ticket sales to the public and local Boone area.

On March 22, Ostrow, assistant director of student programing for App State at the time of the Migos show, wrote an email to Corey Babay, business manager of Holmes Convocation Center, asking to suspend online ticket sales at 10:41 a.m.

“Can you please disable online sales for Migos or re-add the code APPMIGOS2018? – I am being told that admin only wants to do walk up for public tickets,” Ostrow wrote.

An hour before Ostrow sent that email, Cathey sent an email to Ostrow and Evatt-Young with the subject “Migos Ticket Sales to Boone Community.”

In the email, he wrote that he was sending an email to Paul Forte, vice chancellor for business affairs, and others, and provided a draft of the email.

“My recommendation is that we allow for both walk up and online sales to get this sell out completed,” Cathey wrote. “While we can set parameters within social media to target specific geographic areas, word could get out and anyone could purchase the tickets. I know that public sales has been a specific area of concern.”

He also wrote that with the targeted marketing, “most of the remaining tickets would go to Boone area residents, a few Watauga High students, Caldwell (Community) College and possibly Lees McRae students.”

Later that day, Ostrow replied to Cathey’s email about the ticket sales to the community.

Ostrow wrote: “I have heard over and over that this is a predominantly white school that struggles with increasing diversity on campus — if we present ourselves in this manner we are only magnifying the image that the ASU community is selectively welcoming.”

“People can deflect and tell us that this decision isn’t based on the act — but it is; and the systemic racism associated with it makes me uncomfortable. We wouldn’t be having this conversation about a country artist, and from my experience those are the shows with the highest number of drinking and disorderly conduct reports.”

At 2:16 p.m. that day, Ginger Bryant, information desk and ticket sales manager, also emailed Babay about ticket sales.

“(Jake Ostrow) didn’t give much info, just said that he was told that outside online sales aren’t to be available yet. I asked him when he thought they would be available and he said ‘I don’t know. I’m only doing what I’m told,’” Bryant wrote.

4,213 tickets that were sold on March 23. Tickets went on sale to the public online, on March 28.

“Can you please make tickets available online without a ticket code for MIGOS? We have the OK to move forward on that now,” Ostrow wrote to Babay.

The final ticket count for the Migos concert was 4,531, which was 969 tickets short of a sell out.

Timeline of Migos Events

Section 2: Show Time

“When two of three performers come on stage, that’s unfortunate and doesn’t put APPS in the best light.”  Evatt-Young

When doors opened for the show, LaRocca said she was not working and went to the show as a fan. She had been helping with preparations for the show since 8 a.m.

LaRocca was a member of APPS at the time. Forbes, being in the leadership role, worked all day.

Her job started at 8 a.m. for load in. During the show, her job was to make sure the show was going OK.

“Hospitality is one of our main responsibilities as an organization,” Forbes said. “We make sure the dressing room has what it needs. We make sure everything is set up.”

Forbes was working with the APPS adviser, Ostrow, all day and said she didn’t leave until around 2 a.m.

Evatt-Young said he was floating around during the show making sure everything was running well.

“There’s also a central command post where reps from different areas are,” Evatt-Young said. “If there were any things that came up they could radio any of us or any of the students so we could mobilize students if we needed to.”

Evatt-Young said there were representatives from Boone police and the safety office at the central command post. The representative for APPS was Cathey.

When Migos went on stage, a notable performer, Offset, was absent.

Rumors were spreading saying Offset was in New York City with Cardi B, his fiance at the time, or that he just didn’t want to come to Boone.

Offset was on campus and at the Holmes Convocation Center, Evatt-Young said. Forbes said that she saw him at Holmes Convocation Center but at the time didn’t register it was him.

“We were surprised that there were only two performers on stage,” Evatt-Young said. “When we noticed this — all the APPS students were like ‘where’s the third performer?’ When two of three performers come on stage, that’s unfortunate and doesn’t put APPS in the best light.”

Twenty-five Boone police officers worked the show but Boone police only billed for 18 officers for a total of $3,253.50, according to documents obtained by The Appalachian.

The Migos show had 56 incidents documented by the event command. In comparison, Lil Wayne had 65 incidents. The top calls during the Migos show were medical calls (20), housekeeping calls referencing vomit/biohazards (17), law enforcement calls labeled “other” (11) and six people were transported to the hospital.

Section 3: Aftermath

“Outside of a student death, mass shootings, and riots, a couple of the things that I fear happening most at one of my shows happened in one night following one.” Ostrow

Between 4:38 a.m. on April 5, and 11:59 p.m. on April 6, 2018, there were 49 stops by the Boone Police Department, according to documents from Boone police. One of those stops, which happened near the 2200 block of Highway 105 in Boone, led to three charges filed against three individuals.

Rumors were abound that Migos had been arrested after their show. In reality, three men — Jharon Ahmad Murphy, Daryl Irvon McPherson and Kevin Spigner — were charged with drug-related offenses.

When Migos and their group left the building security officers smelled weed, which led to the traffic stop, Ostrow said.

When people found out that persons in connection to Migos were arrested, reactions were mixed with some saying they deserved to be arrested and others were upset and said no black artist would ever perform at App State again.

“We’re still going to always advocate and try to bring a diverse array of entertainment to campus but it does put a potential barrier to bringing more diverse acts to campus,” Evatt-Young said.

For Ostrow, the aftermath of the show was one of his worst fears.

“Outside of a student death, mass shootings, and riots, a couple of the things that I fear happening most at one of my shows happened in one night following one,” Ostrow wrote.

Even though the university did not have anything to do with the arrest, Ostrow said he still felt it looked bad.

That night, Hardage sent an email to Ostrow to try to settle concerns.

“None of us did anything wrong. There’s literally no way they could be mad at us. They might blame us, but their blame would be misplaced,” Hardage wrote. “Their drivers messed up the route inbound. Their band member didn’t go on stage. They were pulled over in Boone, not on campus. We provided a safe arena and excellent production.”

Hardage continued to write that it was all on the band and that Ostrow “shouldn’t feel bad at all.”

J.J. Brown, vice chancellor of student affairs, sent an email that included Cathey, at 4:22 a.m. stating that it was an unfortunate end to the show.

The morning after the show, Jason Parker, director of Holmes Convocation Center, sent an email that said the convocation center had been fielding complaints.

“We have been fielding complaints this morning from folks who are wanting refunds because they were under the impression that Migos was playing from 8:00pm-11:00pm,” Parker wrote. “We are also getting complaints about the 1 missing Migo.”

The Office of Campus Activities fielded four to five complaints after the show.

One email message said: “So I drove 2 hours for 2/3 of the Migos to show up and for them not to even perform for 30 mins. I want a refund. Something should be done about this.”

A few days later, on April 9, Ostrow sent an email to Evatt-Young and Cathey with the subject “Migos Contract Thoughts.”

“I’m going to harp on this until I get a response from someone about it, this wouldn’t have happened to a white artist — did Willie Nelson get arrested in ‘08? It doesn’t matter that they broke the law, people will still see us as the racist, predominantly white mountain town that arrests our performers and then refuses to pay them,” Ostrow wrote.

Ostrow continued in the email.

“When you factor in that almost 100% of our crowd was white, and that the arena was filled with the smell of marijuana (probably with limited citations, but it didn’t sound like we had many arrests) that’s not a good look,” Ostrow wrote. “This situation layered with all of our pre-show ticketing struggles is disheartening. I’ve already had outside contacts in the industry reach out to me and ask me what’s going on here.”

He also said that they were stupid and ignored all of their direction to avoid roadblocks but “our security arrested our performer immediately following our performance for the smell of a drug that is legal in other parts of the country.”

The email was sent in part to give his thoughts about the Migos contract. On April 6 at 9:35 a.m., Cathy Scott, business manager for student engagement and leadership, sent an email to Cathey asking if she should stop the payment to Migos as all of the band didn’t show up.

Cathey replied to the email three minutes later.

“Please see if you can stop it,” Cathey wrote. “I think we will end up paying the full amount, but it would be great to buy ourselves a couple of days of conversation with the middle agent about it.”

Section 4: Contractual Dilemma

“Anytime we do contracts with the university, we can not issue payment until services are rendered.” Evatt-Young

When the contract for Migos to perform at App was finalized, App State was slated to pay $190,000. In comparison, Lil Wayne was paid $162,000, The 1975 was paid $73,500 and The Avett Brothers were paid $220,000, according to their contracts.

“I didn’t feel good about paying the full contract,” Evatt-Young said. “The truth is any type of entertainment we bring knows that they should perform what’s in the contract and they have to perform the full set or all the performers have to perform. That is standard practice with entertainment.”

Early in the morning on April 9, Ostrow sent an email to Evatt-Young and Cathey about his thoughts on the contract. In the email, he said he saw two options for them.

“1) ask for a reduction in artist fee based on only 2 performing and move on. (I’d ask for 30k and negotiate down to 15-20k). 2) refuse to pay entirely, go to court. (Probably win, but who knows),” Ostrow wrote.

He wrote that he would choose option one because of two main points. The first being that nothing in the contract said Migos is three people. Ostrow’s second reason had to do with the playing time.

“We have no grounds for ‘they didn’t play long enough’ discussions. That should have been addressed in the offer process before contracting,” Ostrow wrote.

Later in the day on April 9, Hardage wrote to Evatt-Young and Ostrow that he was dodging calls from ICM and wanted to connect. ICM is the management company that represents Migos.

The next day, Ostrow sent a draft email to Evatt-Young to look over.

“I am writing to follow up on the Migos concert at Appalachian State University on Thursday, April 5th, 2018. Appalachian State University demands a reduction of fees of $20,000 because 1 member of Migos, Offset, chose not to perform even though he was in the building,” Ostrow wrote.

Ostrow then listed two of the experiences that APPS faced as a result of the situation. The first was that they received dozens of refund requests and complaints from attendees. The second was attacks on their organization.

“The students have been fielding comments on social media and in person that ‘APPS would only be able to get 2 members of Migos’ and ‘Migos swindled you.’ etc,” Ostrow wrote. “Our volunteer students feel attacked and vilified in what should have been a positive experience — this is a direct result of the personal decisions of Migos.”

Evatt-Young added a third issue that came about because of events surrounding the show. He wrote in that students and public attendees felt like they were “cheated” on their concert experience because only two of the three artists actually performed. He also said it put them in a difficult place to build trust with the stakeholders for delivering what they say they will.

Because of APPS issues, Ostrow demanded a reduction of fees.

“Appalachian State University demands a reduction of fees of $20,000 because 1 member of Migos, Offset, chose not to perform even though he was in the building,” Ostrow wrote. “Our organization did not receive the full product we contracted for, and the damage that this has done to our reputation and student experience is unacceptable.”

The next day, Ostrow wrote to Evatt-Young, Cathey, Scott and Matt Dull, assistant vice chancellor for finance and operations, Division of Student Affairs, that Migos had accepted a reduction of $10,000 making the final payment for the concert $180,000.

“We were happy with the amount that was negotiated to take off. I think our job as staff members and as a university, when a contract is not met, we should be asking those questions to save that money from student activity fees,” Evatt-Young said.  

That was when the payment struggles started. In the email Ostrow sent saying that Migos accepted a reduction, he also wrote “they obviously want to get paid right away, how do we go about doing this with the contract amount not matching the fee amount for the controller’s office?”

To fix this, an addendum was added in the contract to make sure “everything is in writing for the State,” Hardage said.

On April 14, the payment had still not been sent.

“Quick update — please do NOT submit the payment for Migos yet until Jake or I have given

you the 100% green light,” Evatt-Young sent to Scott. “Apparently, their agent is still wanting a form signed by the University before moving forward with payment.”

Scott replied to Evatt-Young saying that she was under the impression that General Counsel, for App State, had taken care of everything relating to the contract.

“The General Counsel’s Office had reviewed everything, but the agency came back with edits,” Evatt-Young replied. “We should hear something soon.”

Agents for Migos originally wanted another amendment in the contract after the first one. The second amendment that the agents sought was that the “University acknowledges and agrees that Artist has satisfactorily performed its services hereunder.”

Ostrow talked to the agents to see what could be done.

“Hello Everyone, I talked to MIGOS again, they have changed their minds and we can proceed with the executed amendment as is, they just want to get paid,” Ostrow wrote on April 18. “Cathy, can you please move forward on this?”

Scott corrected the amount on the direct pay, attached the new contract and sent everything out for approvals.

On April 20, Evatt-Young emailed Myra Hayler in the office of controller, asking for a status on that Migos payment that Scott had submitted earlier that week.

“Their agent is pushing us on payment, so it would be helpful if I can provide them an update about where they are in line to issue payment,” Evatt-Young wrote.

Hayler wrote that they were running about two weeks out.

Evatt-Young said once an agreement is reached, it then gets sent to the controller’s office which takes about two to three weeks to then send that check.

“The agency is pushing us hard on not practicing due diligence in issuing payment in a reasonable time,” Evatt-Young wrote.

Evatt-Young said that they, him and Ostrow, took some of the heat from the agency but for the most part, it was the role of the middle agent to deal with the agency.

On April 20, Evatt-Young emailed Dull to ask if he could help push the payment through quicker.

“I just got off the phone with the Migos agent, they are extremely frustrated with the process and are threatening escalation again,” Ostrow wrote to Cathey and Evatt-Young on April 23. “The extenuating circumstances associated with this payment necessitates some flexibility in the controller’s office.”

Hayler wrote they were waiting for a response to see if they could bring the Migos payment to the top of the list. That was on April 25, which was 20 days after Migos performed at App.

Matt Peters, the agent for ICM Partners, sent an email on April 30 to Hardage.

“This is getting past the point of reasonable. The email you sent last week indicated that they were trying to get this money released on Friday,” Peters wrote. “Has the money been released? If not, why not, and when? This can’t linger any longer.”

Hardage replied that the check was cut that day and it was going to be picked up and overnighted.

Evatt-Young picked up the check on May 1 to be sent to Danny Zook, the manager for Migos, 26 days after Migos performed on App State’s campus.

Moss Brennan is a sophomore journalism major from Durham, North Carolina. You can follow him on Twitter at @mosbren