Irish Bands Cancel SXSW Concerts Over Arms Companies and US Army Sponsorship


Irish Bands Cancel SXSW Concerts Over Arms Companies and US Army Sponsorship

Artists include Kneecap, Mick Flannery, Gavin James and Soda Blonde.

A number of Irish bands that were scheduled to perform at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, this week have cancelled their performances. The artists, which include Kneecap, Mick Flannery, Gavin James and Soda Blonde, are protesting against the sponsorship of the festival by weapons companies RTX, BAE Systems and L3Harris and the US Army.

Rather than performing, the artists will make a joint statement this evening (Thursday 14 March) at the Velveeta Room venue at 8pm (2am GMT) and again at the Flamingo Canteena venue tomorrow at 1pm (7pm GMT).

The protest was first sparked on 22 February when the Austin for Palestine Coalition called for SXSW to disinvite sponsors RTX, its subsidiary Collins Aerospace, and BAE Systems from the festival. Chicago songwriter Ella Williams pulled out of the official showcase on 4 March and this was followed by a number of other artists and speakers.

Irish group Kneecap announced their decision at the weekend saying they were cancelling their three shows ‘in solidarity with the people of Palestine and to highlight the unacceptable deep links the festival has to weapons companies and the US military who at this very moment are enabling a genocide and famine against a trapped population.’ The US Army is listed as one of the festival’s ‘Super Sponsors’. The Belfast hip hop group were soon followed by other Irish acts. According to the Austin for Palestine Coalition, over 80 artists and panellists have now pulled out of the event. 

According to the UN, 31,272 Palestinians have been killed since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on 7 October and 73,024 have been injured. 1,447 Israelis have been killed and 6,875 have been injured. 

Showcase cancellation
First Music Contact, which administers the Irish showcases, released a statement on Tuesday saying it had cancelled the Music From Ireland showcases.

The protest by Irish bands follows a number of other public statements at music events in recent weeks. At the RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards on 27 February, singer Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin used his acceptance speech to highlight the genocide in Gaza. At the RTÉ Choice Music Prize last week, Lankum, winners of album of the year, sang a version of ‘The Rocks of Bawn’ with lyrics about Palestine and also used their acceptance speech to highlight the humanitarian crisis.

The full list of band who were to showcase at SXSW includes Cardinals, Chalk, Gavin James, Gurriers, Kneecap, Mick Flannery, NewDad, Robert Grace, Soda Blonde and Sprints. Enola Gay and Conchúr White from Northern Ireland have also announced they will not be performing at SXSW.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Published on 14 March 2024

comments powered by Disqus