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Live music amplifies XR’s International Rebellion

Artists and DJs including Massive Attack, Declan McKenna, Orbital and Rob da Bank are bringing the noise this month’s climate protests, where a team of music programmers are risking arrest to provide a musical accompaniment to the demonstrations.

The two-week ‘International Rebellion’, organised by pressure group Extinction Rebellion (XR), began on Monday, and sees activists call on governments around the world take urgent action to tackle global warming.

In London – home to one of the largest of the protests, which are also taking place in 59 other cities worldwide – demonstrators have at various times shut down down Whitehall, the Mall, Westminster Bridge, Downing Street, London City Airport and, most recently, the BBC’s New Broadcasting House headquarters.

The London ‘rebellion’ is “decentralised” and divided into 12 zones, an XR spokesperson tells IQ, with entertainment duties on each site overseen by one or more programmer.

“We’ve had a hell of a lot of people that want to perform at all the sites,” says Sam Weatherald, music programmer at Global Justice Rebellion, which is looking for a new home after being evicted from St James’s Park yesterday. “There’s a big [XR] database for everyone who’s interested, because we’ve had so many people saying they want to play.”

” Music is really great to get the message across”

Acts booked by Weatherald, also co-founder of Antenna Collective, for St James’s Park include rapper Dizraeli, reggae band the Majestic and sitarist-cellist Pete Yelding.

Anthony McGinley, aka DJ Absolute, is based in Trafalgar Square, where XR activists secretly set up a large stage for speeches and live performance. Artists who have played or will play in the square include Disclosure, Orbital, Johnny Flynn and Rob da Bank, DJ and founder of Bestival, as well as members of Pumarosa and Mystery Jets.

“Everyone I’ve asked to play has said ‘yes’,” comments McGinley. “It’s a cause I think a lot of musicians are passionate about. And it feels really good for me, personally, to be able to use my skillset and passions to do something to highlight [XR’s activism].”

Elsewhere, Massive Attack played all 12 sites earlier this week, according to the XR spokesperson, by moving around with a sound system in a backpack, while Declan McKenna played a free show on the Mall – the singer-songwriter’s first in a year.

Weatherald says it’s important to make use of music and arts to address social issues, noting that his and other International Rebellion sites are “chocka with heavy political and social issues, talks and workshops, so it’s really important to have the music there. Music is really great to get the message across.”

“It’s beautiful to see everyone coming together”

But it’s not without its challenges, adds McGinley. “The goalposts have obviously been moving a lot with this – there are all these external forces impacting on what we’re trying to do, so there’s been a lot of solving problems that have come up on the night,” he says.

“Seeing all the raids happening is a bit scary, and it can be disheartening when you’ve planned something only to see it get shut down. [At press time, in excess of 1,000 protesters had been arrested.] So there are a lot of mixed emotions, But also some really amazing highlights – it’s beautiful to see everyone coming together.”

The International Rebellion protests follow a busy summer of festival appearances for Extinction Rebellion activists. Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, told IQ last month there were 60% fewer tents left behind at its events this summer as a result of XR’s involvement. “I’ve been asking people for ten years not to leave their tents,” he said. “But the first year I get Extinction Rebellion involved, everyone takes them home!”

Other International Rebellion events are taking place in cities including Paris, Madrid, New York, Hong Kong, Toronto, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City and Melbourne.


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Fyre Festival reveals line-up (and $400k tickets)

Fyre Festival, a new event by Ja Rule’s Fyre Media booking agency, has unveiled the line-up it hopes can lure deep-pocketed music fans and celebrity spotters away from Coachella this spring.

The festival, which will take place on 28–30 April and 5–7 May – the weekend after Coachella wraps up – in the Exumas, Bahamas, will be headlined by Pusha T, Desiigner, Major Lazer, Blink-182 and a Disclosure DJ set, with Migos, Kaytranada, Skepta and Lil Yachty also on the bill.

Fyre, however, says the “unparellelled soundtrack” is “only a piece of the two-weekend experience. Attendees will take a departure from the familiar for the adventure of a lifetime, immersing themselves in art, first-class cuisine and new levels of luxury.”

“The Exumas will also offer the ultimate destination for boaters, divers, snorkellers and kayakers looking to explore its beautiful turquoise waters and idyllic beaches,” the announcement continues. “It’s been said that from space, astronauts deem the Exumas as having the clearest and nicest waters in the world. Guests will be invited to take advantage of the beauty of the islands, with onsite programming including sunrise yoga, meditation, massages, fitness bootcamps, art installations, and much more.

Fyre Festival is reportedly already in financial trouble, having missed a number of deadlines for payments to artists

“Local excursions will include yachting, jet skiing, snorkelling the deepest blue hole in the world, seeing the swimming pigs, exploring the caves and catamaran parties.”

All $1,500 GA passes are sold out, with remaining tickets starting at US$2,500 for those with their own yachts, increasing to $399,995 – $49,999 each – for ‘artists estate’ and ‘artists palace’ packages, which include flights, artists’ pass tickets, accommodation and “exclusive VIP experiences”.

While the Bahamas’ ministry of tourism expects Fyre to deliver the islands a “significant economic boost”The Wall Street Journal suggests the festival, which has already shifted an estimated 12,000 tickets, is already in financial trouble, having missed a number of deadlines for payments to artists.

IQ Magazine explored the growth of luxury/VIP experiences at music festivals in issue 66.


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