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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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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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The 1975 to only play festivals with 50/50 gender split?

The 1975 frontman Matty Healy has announced that he will only agree to play at festivals that commit to featuring 50% female and non-binary performers, saying “this is how male artists can be true allies”.

The statement evolved from a Twitter exchange with journalist Laura Snapes, who suggested the artist add a condition to his rider to stipulate a boycott of festivals dominated by male acts.

“Take this as me signing this contract,” wrote Healy. “I have agreed to some festivals already that may not adhere to this and I would never let fans down who have tickets. But from now I will.”

“This is how male artists can be true allies”

Healy admitted that he was sure “my agents are having kittens right now”, but stated that “people need to act and not chat”. The 1975 are represented by Mike Mori at Paradigm (North America) and Matt Bates at Primary Talent International (RoW).

The 1975 are headlining a one-day event at London’s Finsbury Park this summer, in a special eco-friendly show. The band are also making appearances at UK festivals Boardmasters and Edinburgh Summer Sessions, Bonnaroo and Boston Calling in the US, and Rock for People in Czech Republic.

Over 300 festival, industry organisations and events have now signed the Keychange pledge, committing to achieve a 50/50 gender balance by 2022.

Photo: © pitpony.photography/ Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA-3.0) (cropped)

 


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