“Our music is for sale but our humanity and morality is not.” Massive Attack voice their support for artists boycotting music festivals in protest against “corporate support for genocide in Palestine”

Massive Attack
(Image credit: MAYA HAUTEFEUILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Massive Attack have issued a statement expressing solidarity with artists who have chosen to boycott this week's The Great Escape festival.

Over 100 acts have now pulled out of the event, due to be held at various venues across Brighton from May 15-18, due to the festival taking sponsorship money from Barclays, which invests in companies supplying arms to the Israeli military, in light of the on-going attacks on Gaza. A significant number of young artists also pulled out of scheduled appearances at the SXSW festival in March upon discovering that the US Army and military contractors arming Israel were sponsors of the event.

Earlier this month, an anonymous West Country musician sought Nick Cave's advice on the question of whether or not to perform at the festival, given the ethical dilemmas involved. Writing to Cave via The Red Hand Files section of his website, the musician stated: “I do not support the genocide, I would hope the rest of the world feels the same. But as an artist already existing in a very toxic industry, the best many of us can hope for is a few scraps – the glimmer of an opportunity, a gig, anything to help us get our music out into the world, and in turn make it a better place with the love we promote in our art.”

Cave's response to the musician's query was “Play".

Subsequently, the Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign which supports and encourages band's taking a moral, humanitarian stance on their participation in the festival, has shared a statement of support from Bristol trip-hop stars Massive Attack, backing artists - Kneeecap, Lambrini Girls and Cherym among them - who've elected to boycott the event.

“We’ve endless, special respect for younger artists or artists at earlier stages of their careers who choose to take a stand against corporate support for apartheid and now genocide in Palestine,” Massive Attack say.

“It’s extraordinary to think that in 2024, promoters and festivals still don’t understand that as artists, our music is for sale but our humanity and morality is not. The truth is, while the boycott of events sponsored by toxic corporations like Barclays is courageous, the motives behind it are totally uncontroversial: everyone can see what’s happening in Gaza and no one should accept it.”

“Whether it’s apartheid and genocide in Gaza, or the funding of new fossil fuel extraction worldwide, Barclays has repeatedly proven it is without conscience. Barclays therefore has no place in any music festival or any cultural event. Solidarity with and total respect to all musicians who’ve taken this stand.”

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.