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Imagine Dragons urged to cancel Azerbaijan concert

System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian is publicly petitioning Imagine Dragons to cancel their upcoming concert in Azerbaijan, this September.

The American-Armenian musician took to social media last night (16 August) to urge Imagine Dragons to call off the Baku concert due to the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Nagorno-Karabagh – a region within Azerbaijan’s borders but dominated by ethnic Armenians.

In his post, Tankian pointed out that “Azerbaijan’s petro-oligarchic dictatorial regime was starving 120k people in Nagorno-Karabagh which is now being called a Genocide by the former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.”

Tankian said he had previously sent a “kind letter” to the band through representatives “urging them to reconsider” the show, but did not receive a response. His post also includes a change.org petition, which has garnered 4,859 signatures of the desired 5,000.

Tankian wrote: “As the humanitarian crisis worsens in Nagorno-Karabagh with starvation already being recorded I am forced to publicize this letter and [Imagine Dragons’] disregard for this humanitarian catastrophe. Maybe they felt they had a legal liability to play the show, maybe they just don’t care. My whole life I have been an advocate for genocide recognition and have always said there has to be a price to pay for Genocidal regimes or deniers. Another genocide is looming by Azerbaijan and while this happens they get to enjoy an American band from LV. Fuck that! That’s not right.”

In his letter to Imagine Dragons, Tankian congratulated the American band on their track record of philanthropy. “One of the things I appreciate about you as artists is that you’re active proponents of various human rights issues and social causes. Your work with Amnesty International and your outspokenness about the war in Ukraine among them,” he wrote.

“Another genocide is looming by Azerbaijan and while this happens they get to enjoy an American band from LV. Fuck that!”

Explaining the severity of the situation, Tankian wrote: “This is due to the horrendous human rights violations carried out by the corrupt petro-oligarchic dictatorship of Ilham Aliyev against not only his own people, but thousands of Armenians (my people). Since 2020, Azerbaijan has created war against Armenians, killing thousands, displacing tens of thousands and terrorizing countless more via an illegal blockade that has been ordered to be reopened by the ICJ and the European Court of Human Rights.”

“With the world in so much turmoil since COVID and the subsequent war in Ukraine, too much of the world is still unaware of what’s happening to Armenians by Aliyev’s regime. They’ve invaded Armenia and have been carrying out heinous human rights violations with impunity. International events and performances by artists have only served to normalize and whitewash their status among the family of nations.”

Tankian concluded: “I really feel that performing in Azerbaijan would have a negative impact on your brand as well. I’m confident that you can decipher all the facts for yourselves to decide whether to cancel your concert. Either way, I truly appreciate your time and consideration. Thanks for hearing me out and I hope to meet you all one day.”

“Imagine Dragons needs to be made aware they are being USED to white-wash the criminal & genocidal Aliyev regime of Azerbaijan”

The change.org petition, that Tankian included in his post also says: “Imagine Dragons needs to be made aware they are being USED to white-wash the criminal & genocidal Aliyev regime of Azerbaijan.”

In September last year, System Of A Down condemned the “evil aggression” against Armenia in the wake of bombings that took place along the nation’s eastern border.

The band – all of whom are of Armenian descent – were at the forefront of campaigning for recognition of the Armenian genocide of 1915, and have continued with their efforts to speak up for the nation amid ongoing unrest.


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100,000+ for first Download Madrid

More than 100,000 people attended last weekend’s inaugural Download Madrid, exceeding the expectations of Live Nation Spain and cementing the event as one of Spain’s “rock and metal festivals of reference”, says the promoter.

Download Madrid was announced last October alongside the French edition of Lollapalooza, and joins a string of new festivals launched in the Spanish capital over the past two years, including Live Nation’s Mad Cool and Glaciar Music’s Utopía.

Taking place at the Caja Mágica (‘Magic Box’) stadium from Thursday 22 to Saturday 24 June, festival performers included Linkin Park, System of a Down, Prophets of Rage, Mastodon, Five Finger Death Punch and 58 other acts playing across four stages on more than 35,000m² of artificial turf.

Following the successful debut, “the Caja Mágica,” reads a release from Live Nation Spain, “has become the meeting place for an audience that cried out for a rock/metal event of this magnitude in the capital.”

The festival will return in 2018.


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Sunny 15th Download Festival “a huge success”

Festival Republic (FR) has hailed the “huge success” of the 2017 edition of Download, which returned to Donington Park in Leicester, UK, for the 15th time last weekend.

After flash flooding at the 2016 festival, the company installed 3,000+ metres of new drainage for 2017, more than quadrupling the site’s run-off capacity in preparation for a similar downpour this year. (According to Download, more than 70 million gallons of water fell on Donington in 2016 – equivalent to 106 Olympic-sized swimming pools.)

As it happened, the weather gods saw fit to smile on Download 2017, leaving the festival largely rain-free and the improved site “greener than ever”, says FR. More than 80,000 people turned out to see headliners Aerosmith (in their final UK show), System of a Down and Biffy Clyro, with other performers including Prophets of Rage, Good Charlotte, Sum 41, Machine Gun Kelly, AFI, Simple Plan.

Other highlights included a full-size wrestling arena courtesy of WWE NXT, the return of the Wall of Death with vintage motorcycles, a silent disco, a cinema and a mobile tattoo studio.

In addition to the new drainage, FR introduced additional security measures, including armed police on site, and a new traffic plan to ease congestion following the closure of the M1 motorway.

“It’s been another really good year, with a great atmosphere and low levels”

The extra police presence was well received, with officers encouraging fans to pose for selfies using the hashtag #copaselfie. Supt Martin Ball of Leicestershire police says the festival was also a success from a policing perspective: “It’s been another really good year with a great atmosphere and low levels of crime reported to us. The success of our operation lies in our great working relationship with the organisers, Festival Republic. Although it is too soon to give definite crime figures, early indications are that reported crime is very low. Officers worked hard day and night patrolling car parks and campsites and they talked to hundreds of rock fans, swapping hats, giving high fives and having their picture taken.

“We had visibly armed officers patrolling for the first time this year following the tragic events of Manchester and London and they were all overwhelmed by the positive response from festivalgoers, who thanked them for keeping them safe. They were happy to have their picture taken many times, which was a new experience for the usually camera-shy firearms officers.”

Festival promoter Andy Copping, Live Nation’s president of UK touring, says the vibe at the festival remains unchanged, despite the security challenges posed by the Manchester Arena bombing. “This is the home of rock, and has been since 1980, and I love reading people’s social media when they get here when they say, ‘We’re home’,” he tells the Derby Telegraph. “There is something about the spirit of the place – you can feel the vibe.”

Since 2016 a sister festival has taken place in France, as Live Nation seeks to replicate the success of the UK event on the continent. Linkin Park, System of a Down and Green Day headlined Download Paris, which also took place last weekend, with the first Download Madrid set for 22–24 June.


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Festival Focus: Snowbombing, FIB, Download

Broadwick Live’s music ‘n’ ski event Snowbombing today announced an avalanche (geddit?) of new acts for the 2017 festival.

Blossoms, Slaves, De La Soul, Grandmaster Flash, Giggs, Dixon, Shy FX and more will join previously announced headliners Chase & Status for six days of “luxurious spas, igloo raves, rooftop hot tubs, forest parties [and] snow-yoga” at the Mayrhofen ski resort in Austria from 3 to 8 April.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’ll also be “special guest appearances” from everyone’s favourite spandex-clad ’90s early-morning TV fitness instructor, Derrick Evans (aka Mr Motivator), and loveably inept British ski jumper Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, whose life story was the subject of a recent film starring Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman.

Fingers crossed for a Grandmaster Flash/Mr Motivator duet.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nova Rock 2016, M. Krobath/ANSPress Society News

In today’s other major festival news, Red Hot Chili Peppers will be headlining Festival Internacional de Benicassim (FIB) next July.

The American four-piece, who wheadlined Reading and Leeds, Lollapalooza Chicago, T in the Park, Fuji Rock and more this year, are also confirmed for Super Rock Super Bock in Lisbon the same weekend (13–16 July) and Rock in Rio in September 2017.

FIB, which takes place in the Spanish coastal town of Benicàssim, is promoted by Maraworld, part-owned by Denis Desmond’s MCD Concerts. (Anthony Kiedis/Red Hot Chili Peppers photo by M. Krobath/ANSPress Society News.)

System Of a Down, Santiago Gets Louder 2015, Macarena Viza

The second edition of Live Nation France’s Download Paris has announced its three headliners for 2017.

System of a Down – revealed last month as the first act confirmed for the new Download Spain, the second international spin-off from the long-running UK metal festival – will join Linkin Park and Blink-182 at a disused airbase in Le Plessis-Pâté, in Île-de-France, from 9 to 11 June.  (System of a Down photo by Macarena Viza.)

Also playing will be Rage Against the Machine/Public Enemy/Cypress Hill supergroup Prophets of Rage.

The first line-up announcement for the UK Download is expected this week.

Update (4/11/16): It’s System of a Down, Biffy Clyro and Aerosmith.

Linkin Park, Montreal, 2014, Kristina Servant

Other notable developments since the last instalment of Festival Focus:


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Lolla Paris, Download Madrid confirmed for 2017

Two major Live Nation festival brands look set to be increasing their presence in continental Europe in 2017.

In an interview yesterday with French magazine Télérama, Live Nation France’s managing director, Angelo Gopee, revealed Paris will host its own edition of Lollapalooza next July. Taking place on 22 and 23 July at the Longchamp racecourse – the home of the French edition of fellow Live Nation event Download – Lollapalooza Paris will become the fifth international version of the long-running Chicago festival, founded in 1991 by Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell, after Santiago, Chile; Sao Paolo; Buenos Aires; and, most recently, Berlin.

Gopee says the promoter wants to take advantage of the lack of any competing events in the French capital on that weekend, “when many tourists are present in Paris and France”. He declined to name any potential acts, but promised Live Nation would focus on booking “the best possible artists”.

Live Nation is seeking to take advantage of the lack of any competing events in Paris on that weekend

On the same day, reports surfaced in the Spanish press that metal festival Download – held since 2003 in Donington Park, UK, and since 2016 in Paris – would take place in Madrid for the first time next June. The news initially leaked via a Bandsintown listing showing System of a Down playing at Download Festival in Madrid, Spain, before an official website launched later in the day.

No venue has yet been revealed, although IQ has contacted Live Nation Spain for comment.


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