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Malaysia’s Good Vibes returns after The 1975 furore

Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival (GVF) is set to return in July after the controversy surrounding The 1975’s set during last year’s edition.

The British band were headlining the first day of the festival’s 10th-anniversary edition when frontman Matty Healy hit out at the country’s strict anti-LGBT laws and kissed a male bandmate on stage.

The set was cut short, and promoters Future Sound Asia (FSA) were ordered by the government to call off the rest of the three-day festival at Sepang International Circuit.

FSA described Good Vibes Festival’s cancellation as a “catastrophic financial blow” and demanded £2 million in compensation from The 1975. Legal proceedings are ongoing.

Today (8 May), Good Vibes has announced its comeback, albeit in a different location than last year and with one less day.

“Immediately after what happened last year, we thought the world was ending”

Set to take place on 20 and 21 July at the Resorts World Awana in Genting Highlands, the 2024 edition features J Balvin, Peggy Gou, Joji, BIBI and more, as well as returning Malaysian acts who had their performances cut from the 2023 event.

“Immediately after what happened last year, we thought the world was ending,” Future Sound Asia’s Wan Alman told NME in a new interview. “We were left thinking about what was going to happen, were we still going to be working in this industry and things like that. But as time went on and we dealt with the situation, our heads became clearer.

“Towards the end of last year, we realised that the government was not going to ban us and we’ve got a good thing going here – we’ve been doing this for 10 years.”

According to Alman, the government has supported the return of Good Vibes: “They want to work with us hand-in-hand to make sure that that sort of thing doesn’t happen again and that the live music industry and the festival industry isn’t adversely affected by what happened.”

FSA and the government have also been working with PUSPAL (Central Committee for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes) to refine and improve its guidelines and standardise responses to incidents.

“The kill switch is always a nuclear option, it’s the very last resort”

Alman says that the incident has not put booking agents off the festival, but that domestic promoters are “more careful in which acts they want to book and probably more diligent in clearly informing the artists that these are the things you can and cannot do when performing in Malaysia”.

In the months following the controversy, promoters were ordered to install a “kill switch” to end performances by international artists that breach government regulations. Alman says the kill switch has not been standardised and says each promoter and organiser has their own version of it.

“For us, the kill switch is a system where we can immediately cut off audio, video and lights on the stage,” says Alman. “Of course, this is always a nuclear option, it’s the very last resort. We have other protocols in place about who can call for stage closure and when we can call for it.

“We’re not going to call for it if an artist starts smoking a cigarette onstage; we’re just going to stop them and tell them they can’t do that. There will be various scenarios and degrees of severity, and what happened last year would be the most severe, where we cut everything off.”

Ticketholders for last year’s event could either defer their tickets or donate the money to the festival. As the festival is shorter this year, those who opted to defer 2023 tickets will be entitled to two full festival passes for 2024 plus a RM100 F&B voucher. See the full lineup here.

 


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‘Kill switch’ order for promoters after 1975 row

Promoters in Malaysia are being ordered to install a “kill switch” to end performances by international artists that breach government regulations.

The move comes the wake of July’s Good Vibes Festival fiasco in Sepang, where The 1975’s opening night headline set was infamously cut short by officials after singer Matty Healy criticised Malaysia’s strict anti-LGBT laws in a “profanity laden speech” and kissed a male bandmate on stage.

The remaining two days of the Future Sound Asia (FSA)-promoted event were subsequently cancelled and the band banned from performing in Malaysia, with The Star now reporting the furore has prompted the authorities to issue a new directive.

“The government has requested that concert organisers introduce a kill switch that will cut off electricity during any performance if there is any unwanted incident,” says deputy communications and digital Minister Teo Nie Ching. “This is a new guideline after the [1975] incident. We hope that with stricter guidelines, foreign artists can adhere to the local culture.”

Overseas acts must apply for a permit through the Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes (Puspal) before they are granted permission to perform, while the police are also involved. Teo adds that representatives from the authorities would attend music events to monitor them.

“During a performance, we ensure that the [relevant parties] such as the immigration department, Puspal, police and local authorities are at the venue,” she says.

The decision on whether to blacklist any artist falls under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Ministry and Immigration Department

However, Teo stresses the decision on whether to blacklist any artist ultimately falls under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Ministry and Immigration Department.

FSA described Good Vibes Festival’s cancellation as a “catastrophic financial blow” and demanded £2 million in compensation from The 1975 – a settlement which IQ understands is still in progress. The promoter claims it was reassured by The 1975’s management team that Healy and the band “would adhere to local performance guidelines” prior to the group’s set.

“Regrettably, Healy did not honour these assurances, despite our trust in their commitment,” aid Law. “His actions took us by surprise, and we halted the show as promptly as feasible following the incident.”

Healy addressed the controversy in a 10-minute, pre-written speech at the band’s concert in Dallas, Texas last month, alleging that “the Malaysian authorities… briefly imprisoned us” and criticised the backlash against the group.

“It was the liberal outrage against our band for remaining consistent with our pro-LGBTQ stage show which was the most puzzling thing,” said the 34-year-old, who previously defied Dubai’s anti-LGBTQ rules by kissing a male audience member during a concert in 2019.

Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post reports that Korean-American singer Eric Nam has cancelled his coming concert in Malaysia after receiving “threats” for liking a social media post linked to the Israel-Gaza war. Nam had been scheduled to perform in Kuala Lumpur in February 24.

 


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The 1975 handed €2.4m bill over axed festival

The 1975 have been served with a seven-day notice by promoter Future Sound Asia (FSA) to pay more than 12.3 million Malaysian ringgit (€2.4m) in damages over the recent Good Vibes Festival furore.

According to the Malay Mail, the UK band are accused of “intentional breach of contract” over their controversial appearance at last month’s festival, which was cut short after singer Matty Healy launched into a tirade against Malaysia’s anti-LGBT laws before kissing a male bandmate on stage.

The remaining two days of the 10th anniversary event were then cancelled following a directive from the ministry of communications and digital.

The festival’s lawyer, David Mathew of Steven Thiru & Sudhar Partnership, confirms the firm served The 1975 with a letter of claim on 7 August.

FSA is demand the group “admit their liability and also pay the sum of £2,099,154.54 (RM12,347,967.91) within seven days”.

“Healy’s representative categorically provided a pre-show written assurance that he and The 1975’s live performance ‘shall adhere to all local guidelines and regulations’ during their set in Malaysia,” reads the claim. “Despite this, the assurance was ignored, and The Band’s actions also clearly contravened the contract with FSA, which led to the cancellation of the festival and caused significant losses to FSA.”

FSA says it plans to pursue the matter in the English courts if it is not compensated by the band

FSA says it plans to pursue the matter in the English courts if it is not compensated by the band.

Held at Sepang International Circuit, near Kuala Lumpur, GVF 2023 was scheduled to run from 21-23 July and feature performances by acts including The Strokes, The Kid Laroi and Dermot Kennedy.

The Arts, Live Festival and Events Association (ALIFE), the coalition representing the Malaysian live performance industry, came out in support of FSA following the cancellation.

“Over the past decade, the Good Vibes Festival has maintained an exemplary track record of organising exceptional contemporary festivals in Malaysia,” said ALIFE president Rizal Kamal. “The festival has consistently featured a diverse selection of artists, attracting both local and international attendees, all while ensuring excellent organisation and safety standards.

“We are confident that the Malaysian live events industry will recover from this incident and continue to thrive. Our determination lies in building a stronger, more sustainable live music scene in Malaysia.”

 


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Future Sound Asia threatens 1975 with legal letter

The promoter of Malaysia’s ill-fated 2023 Good Vibes Festival (GVF) has threatened The 1975 with legal action over the event’s cancellation.

The ministry of communications and digital issued an “immediate cancellation directive” to promoter Future Sound Asia (FSA) in response to the actions of the band’s frontman Matty Healy’s actions during their aborted 21 July headline set.

Criticising Malaysia’s strict anti-LGBT laws (homosexuality is a crime in the country), Healy told the festival crowd: “I made a mistake. When we were booking shows, I wasn’t looking into it. I don’t see the fucking point, right, I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with.”

After kissing bassist Ross MacDonald on the mouth, Healy then added: “I am sorry if that offends you and you’re religious and it’s part of your fucking government, but your government are a bunch of fucking retards and I don’t care anymore.”

The 1975’s slot was subsequently cut short after 30 minutes and the remaining two days of the festival axed.

It was revealed today (7 August) that FSA, which described the cancellation as “a catastrophic financial blow”, has served the UK band with a letter of claim – demanding the group “acknowledge their liability and provide compensation to FSA for the damages incurred”, warning that “failure to comply will lead to FSA pursuing legal action in the courts of England”.

“FSA would like to reiterate their strong disapproval of the band’s behaviour during their performance at GVF”

“FSA would like to reiterate their strong disapproval of the band’s behaviour during their performance at GVF2023,” says a statement by the firm. “In particular, lead singer Matthew Timothy Healy’s use of abusive language, equipment damage, and indecent stage behaviour not only flagrantly breached local guidelines and Malaysian laws but also tarnished the reputation of the 10-year-old festival.”

Representatives for The 1975, who previously played GVF in 2016, have declined to comment, but Healy appeared to make light of the controversy during the group’s Lollapalooza headline slot in Chicago on Friday (4 August), telling the audience: “You want my travel tip? Don’t go to…”

In a press conference held late last month, FSA founder Ben Law said GVF was curtailed due to Healy’s “unruly conduct, which included the use of abusive or provocative language, destroying equipment and engaging in an indecent act on stage”.

“He blatantly contravened local performance guidelines and violated our country’s laws and regulations,” said Law. “We do not accept or condone such behaviour, and Matty Healy’s conduct deserves to be condemned. His display has left a trail of consequences for Malaysians. This incident was isolated and unforeseen, and contrary to the agreement we have with the band.

“Every artist, local or international, that we contract undergoes a clear discussion regarding these guidelines. We had The 1975’s management team assurance that they would adhere to local laws and regulations — in writing. We even further reiterated it with the tour manager prior to their performance.”

GVF’s 10th anniversary edition was scheduled to run at Sepang International Circuit from 21-23 July and feature performances by the likes of The Strokes, The Kid Laroi and Dermot Kennedy. The controversy has reportedly led Sepang Municipal Council to rule that only local artists will be permitted to perform in the district “for the time being”.

The 1975 could also face a class action lawsuit from Malaysian artists and vendors.

 


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Malaysian live biz unites over The 1975 fiasco

The promoter of Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival (GVF) has attempted to set the record straight over The 1975’s aborted headline set, which resulted in the event’s cancellation.

The band’s performance last Friday (21 July) was cut short and the Future Sound Asia (FSA)-promoted festival’s remaining two days cancelled after frontman Matty Healy slammed Malaysia’s strict anti-LGBT laws and kissed bassist Ross MacDonald on stage. Homosexuality is a crime in Malaysia, punishable by 20 years in prison.

In a press conference held last night (27 July), FSA founder Ben Law said the set was curtailed due to Healy’s “unruly conduct, which included the use of abusive or provocative language, destroying equipment and engaging in an indecent act on stage”.

“He blatantly contravened local performance guidelines and violated our country’s laws and regulations,” said Law. “We do not accept or condone such behaviour, and Matty Healy’s conduct deserves to be condemned. His display has left a trail of consequences for Malaysians. This incident was isolated and unforeseen, and contrary to the agreement we have with the band.

“Every artist, local or international, that we contract undergoes a clear discussion regarding these guidelines. We had The 1975’s management team assurance that they would adhere to local laws and regulations — in writing. We even further reiterated it with the tour manager prior to their performance.”

“We are looking forward to possibly devising a framework which would specifically cater to the unique characteristics of multi-day and multi-act music festivals”

FSA described the festival’s cancellation as “a catastrophic financial blow”, while the band could face a class action lawsuit from Malaysian artists and vendors.

Healy’s sole public comment since the incident came via an Instagram post on Saturday, which said: “OK, well why don’t you try and not make out with Ross for 20 years. Not as easy as it looks.”

GVF’s 10th anniversary edition was scheduled to run at Sepang International Circuit from 21-23 July and feature performances by the likes of The Strokes, The Kid Laroi and Dermot Kennedy. The controversy has reportedly led Sepang Municipal Council to rule that only local artists will be permitted to perform in the district “for the time being”.

International acts must apply for a permit through the Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes (PUSPAL) before they are granted permission to perform.

“We will learn from this isolated incident and together with PUSPAL, we are looking forward to possibly devising a framework which would specifically cater to the unique characteristics of multi-day and multi-act music festivals,” added Law, who pointed out the 1975’s previous GVF performance in 2016 had passed off without incident.

“We advocate for proportionate solutions that ensure safety and cultural sensitivity without hampering our thriving international events scene”

“We strive for a safer, more harmonious future for live music in Malaysia and we advocate for proportionate solutions that ensure safety and cultural sensitivity without hampering our thriving international events scene here in our beloved country,” he added.

The Arts, Live Festival and Events Association (ALIFE), the coalition representing the Malaysian live performance industry, has come out in support of FSA.

“Over the past decade, the Good Vibes Festival has maintained an exemplary track record of organising exceptional contemporary festivals in Malaysia,” said ALIFE president Rizal Kamal. “The festival has consistently featured a diverse selection of artists, attracting both local and international attendees, all while ensuring excellent organisation and safety standards.”

ALIFE, FSA, and the government say they have engaged in “constructive dialogue” in the wake of the controversy, while minister of communications and digital Fahmi Fadzil has pledged increased cooperation between the authorities and event organisers. ALIFE says its members hosted 152 ticketed events in 2022/23, selling more than 500,000 tickets and generating RM210 million (€42m) in gross revenue.

“Our commitment remains steadfast in working collaboratively with the government, festival organisers, and all stakeholders to learn from this incident and implement necessary improvements,” added Kamal. “We firmly believe that this setback serves as an opportunity for growth and development, rather than warranting stricter regulations and guidelines.

“We are confident that the Malaysian live events industry will recover from this incident and continue to thrive. Our determination lies in building a stronger, more sustainable live music scene in Malaysia.”

 


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1975 Malaysia furore prompts touring rule change

Promoters of upcoming events in Sepang, Malaysia are being asked not to feature overseas artists as the fallout from The 1975’s aborted festival headline set continues.

The British group’s 21 July performance at the Good Vibes Festival at Sepang International Circuit was cut short by officials after singer Matty Healy attacked Malaysia’s strict anti-LGBT laws and kissed a male bandmate on stage.

Healy’s “controversial conduct and remarks” resulted in the remaining two days of the festival being cancelled by the ministry of communications and digital, and left the band facing the threat of a class action lawsuit from local artists and vendors. Promoter Future Sound Asia is also “exploring legal options”, a spokesperson tells NME.

In the wake of last Friday’s incident, The Star reports that Sepang Municipal Council has ruled that only local artists will be permitted to perform in the district “for the time being”.

“The council retains the discretion to blacklist individuals, companies, events or any related entities,” said council president Datuk Abd Hamid Hussain. “We have made a decision to only allow local artists to perform for the time being.”

Speaking at a board meeting last night (26 July), Hussain said the decision can be overturned if event organisers “submit an appeal to the higher authorities and it is approved”.

Six foreign electronic music acts are currently slated to perform at the M4ntap festival at Sepang International Circuit from 5-6 August

International acts can apply for a permit through the Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes (Puspal).

“Once approved by Puspal, the council will decide to approve the performing location,” said Hussain. “Event organisers will need to adhere to additional requirements, including ensuring that artists’ conduct and behaviour complies with the applicable laws at all times.

“Any violation of this will see the council taking necessary action, including the immediate cancellation of the event,” he said, adding any such violations would result in legal action.

Six foreign electronic music acts, including Dash Berlin, DubVision and Super 8 & Tab, are currently slated to perform at the M4ntap festival at Sepang International Circuit from 5-6 August.

Last year, the Malaysian government set out new rules for international artists following complaints from political party PAS Youth after a stadium show by Billie Eilish in Kuala Lumpur. PAS had previously called for a Selena Gomez concert to be banned in 2016, alleging it promoted “western culture and hedonism”.

All concerts by foreign acts include conditions for organisers and a code of ethics for artists – including how they dress and behave on stage – but according to The Star, the guidelines were being updated to take into account “all sensitivities of the Malaysian public”.

 


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Malaysia festival axed after The 1975 controversy

Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival has been cancelled after The 1975 frontman Matty Healy hit out at the country’s strict anti-LGBT laws and kissed a male bandmate on stage.

The British band were headlining the first day of the festival’s 10th anniversary edition, promoted by Future Sound Asia. The event was scheduled to run at Sepang International Circuit from 21-23 July and feature performances by the likes of The Strokes, The Kid Laroi and Dermot Kennedy.

The BBC reports that Healy criticised the government’s stance on homosexuality in a “profanity-laden speech” before kissing bassist Ross MacDonald. The performance was then cut short 30 minutes into the set, with the group claiming they had been ordered off stage by officials.

Homosexuality is a crime in Malaysia, punishable by 20 years in prison.

A source close to the 1975 tells the BBC: “Matty has a long-time record of advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and the band wanted to stand up for their LGBTQ+ fans and community.”

“The ministry has underlined its unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule or contravene Malaysian laws”

Good Vibes Festival (GVF) organisers outlined the reasons for the cancellation in a statement.

“We deeply regret to announce that the remaining schedule of Good Vibes Festival 2023 planned for today and tomorrow has been cancelled following the controversial conduct and remarks made by UK artist Matt Healy from the band The 1975,” says the statement.

“The decision adheres to the immediate cancellation directive issued at 1.20pm, 22 July 2023, by the ministry of communications and digital. The ministry has underlined its unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule or contravene Malaysian laws.

“We sincerely apologise to all of our ticket holders, vendors, sponsors and partners. We are aware of the time, energy and efforts you have put into making this festival a success, and we value your steadfast support. We will update you on refund mechanics as soon as possible. We appreciate your understanding and continued support during this challenging time.”

Future Sound Asia (FSA) founder and director Ben Law elaborates on the situation in an additional statement published by the New Straits Times.

“The cancellation of GVF deals a catastrophic financial blow to FSA. However, the repercussions of this incident extends beyond us”

“Over the past 10 years, we have built GVF to be a uniquely Malaysian platform for enjoyable music experiences,” says Law. “Now, this decade-long labour of love faces an unprecedented threat due to the actions of an individual.

“This is a challenging time for us. The cancellation of GVF deals a catastrophic financial blow to FSA. However, the repercussions of this incident extends beyond us. We fear it will erode the confidence of music promoters and stakeholders in the live entertainment industry in the nation and threaten our burgeoning live arts scene.

“As festival organisers, FSA appreciates the trust our fans and authorities have placed in us over the years. We take our role in providing a safe, enjoyable music experience very seriously.”

FSA says that, prior to the group’s set, it was reassured by The 1975’s management team that Healy and the band “would adhere to local performance guidelines”.

“Regrettably, Healy did not honour these assurances, despite our trust in their commitment,” adds Law. “His actions took us by surprise, and we halted the show as promptly as feasible following the incident.

“Healy’s unprofessional behaviour and defiance of laws and regulations are disturbing and that he chose to use his performance as a platform to express his personal views, rather than delivering the quality show that his fans were anticipating. This act is unfair to fans who were looking forward to enjoying a memorable music experience.

“We are committed to learning from this experience and taking steps to reinforce communication with artists and their management teams. We will emphasise the importance of professionalism and adherence to local regulations to ensure that future events are conducted with even greater care and diligence.”

Healy previously defied Dubai’s anti-LGBTQ rules by kissing a male audience member during a concert in 2019.

 


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