'If you don't like it, don't come!' Outrage as musicians pull out of Texas festival in protest at Israel

'If you don't like it, don't come!' Outrage as musicians pull out of Texas festival in protest at Israel

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GB News
George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 17/03/2024

- 17:05

The US Army is hosting multiple sessions on innovation, technology and national security at the festival

A group of artists have announced they are pulling out of a Texas festival over the Israel-Gaza conflict.

South by South West festival (SXSW) often showcases British musical talent, helping new up and coming bands to gain traction in the US.

However, female punk band Lambrini Girls, Belfast hip-hop trio Kneecap and Super Furry Animals singer Gruff Rhys have all announced they will be pulling out of their scheduled performances.

The cancellations have been prompted by the festival’s apparent links to both the US Army, and the defence contractor RTX Corporation, which supplies weapons to the Israeli government.

\u200bGruff Rhys and Squirrel Flower

Gruff Rhys and Squirrel Flower are two artists who announced they would be pulling out of the festival


In a statement, Gruff Rhys said: "In horror at the hyper violence inflicted on civilians in Gaza and beyond, I feel the best use of my platform at the official showcases at SXSW this year is to withdraw my music.

"I’m personally disappointed as I love playing music & the band is in full flow right now. I played this festival many times and love it here, always having a great time immersed in its kaleidoscopic array of music and film.

"I feel somewhat hypocritical as I’m no doubt tied in to other numerous imperfect capitalist constructs in my active and enthusiastic participation in the music industry. I do however feel this is a distinct and very sobering historical moment. And there is value to symbolic gestures."

Lambrini Girls wrote on social media: "We can’t affiliate ourselves whatsoever with SXSW. Without our solidarity becoming totally inauthentic."


\u200bLambrini Girls

Lambrini Girls have pulled out of the Texas festival


Meanwhile Kneecap, who go by the stage names of Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap and DJ Próvaí, said: "It is done in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

"This decision will have a significant financial impact on Kneecap both on lost income and on logistical costs already incurred but it isn't an iota of hardship when compared to the unimaginable suffering being inflicted every day on the people of Gaza. Free Palestine."

Also announcing they were boycotting the festival were New York punk band BODEGA, Santa Cruz hardcore group Scowl, Nottingham post-punk band Do Nothing, New Jersey’s Gel, and American musician Squirrel Flower aka Ella Williams.

Williams wrote on social media: "A music festival should not include war profiteers...I refuse to be complicit in this and withdraw my art and labour in protest."


Kneecap perform during the Electric Picnic Festival 2022


The tech and defence company Collins Aerospace, a subsidiary of RTX, is exhibiting at this year’s festival, while the US army says it is "proud to serve as a SXSW super sponsor this year."

Another defence contractor, L3Harris, is a content sponsor, and held a presentation at the event on March 10.

Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote on social media: "We are proud of the US military in Texas. If you don’t like it, don’t come here."

Directly responding to Governor Abbott's comments, a festival spokesperson said: "SXSW does not agree with Governor Abbot...We fully respect the decision these artists made to exercise their right to free speech."

\u200bTexas Governor Greg Abbott

Texas Governor Greg Abbott arriving in Downing Street earlier this week


A spokesperson from the festival added: "Across the globe, we are witnessing unspeakable tragedies, the rise of repressive regimes, and the increasing spread of violent conflict.

"It’s more crucial than ever that we come together to solve these greater humanitarian issues. The defence industry has historically been a proving ground for many of the systems we rely on today.

"These institutions are often leaders in emerging technologies, and we believe it’s better to understand how their approach will impact our lives."

Earlier today, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters: "Gaza is facing famine and we cannot accept this.It is critical to achieve an agreement on a ceasefire rapidly now that frees the hostages and allows more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza."

According to Gaza's health ministry, Israel have killed over 31,000 people in Gaza since the conflict started with many accusing Israel of genocide. Israel denies the genocide charges and says it is acting in self defence after the October 7 attack on Israel from Hamas that killed some 1,200, according to Israeli tallies.

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