Bands who are boycotting Download 2024 come together for Palestine fundraiser gig in Birmingham

Bands who are boycotting Download 2024 come together for Palestine fundraiser gig in Birmingham

The four bands who dropped out of Download 2024 yesterday (June 10) over its partnership with Barclays Bank – which has ties to Israel – have announced a show together in Birmingham to raise money for Palestine.

READ MORE: Artists talk boycotting The Great Escape in solidarity with Palestine 

Pest Control were the first band to pull out of the Donington Park festival, saying that they would not “take part in an event whose sponsor profits from facilitating a genocide.” Later on, Scowl, Speed and Zulu all followed suit, with Scowl revealing that Pest Control had alerted them to the issue.

Now, the four bands have come together to put on a benefit gig at Centrala in Birmingham on June 14, the same day that Scowl, Speed and Zulu were meant to play Download. They will be joined by Cauldron, Ikhras and Transistrrr and all proceeds will be donated towards Palestinian aid and related charities.
According to fans online, the show sold out shortly after being announced.

This Friday! A benefit for Palestine

Thank you to everyone who put this together last minute and all the bands playing.

— SCOWL (@Scowl40831) June 11, 2024

Scowl previously dropped out of Welcome To Rockville and SXSW due to both festivals’ ties to the US Army and weapons companies amid the Israel-Gaza conflict. Other bands who dropped out included Gruff RhysKneecap, SprintsLambrini GirlsGelRachel ChinouririCardinals and NewDad.

SXSW responded to the cancellations in a statement: “We are an organisation that welcomes diverse viewpoints. Music is the soul of SXSW, and it has long been our legacy. We fully respect the decision these artists made to exercise their right to free speech.”

Explaining its sponsorship with the US Army, SXSW wrote: “The defence industry has historically been a proving ground for many of the systems we rely on today. These institutions are often leaders in emerging technologies, and we believe it’s better to understand how their approach will impact our lives.”

The news of the four bands pulling out of Download comes after many acts – including CMATPillow QueensMui Zyu and Georgia Ruth announced that they would be boycotting this year’s edition of Latitude over Barclays’ sponsorship.

The announcements also come after the major boycott of The Great Escape in Brighton last month, also due to its ties with Barclays. Over 100 acts dropped out of this year’s Great Escape Festival in solidarity with Palestine – constituting approximately a quarter of the full programme.

A Barclays spokesperson shared a statement that read: “We provide vital financial services to US, UK and European public companies that supply defence products to NATO and its allies. Barclays does not directly invest in these companies.​ The defence sector is fundamental to our national security and the UK government has been clear that supporting defence companies is compatible with ESG considerations. Decisions on the implementation of arms embargos to other nations are the job of respective elected governments.”

When previously approached about The Great Escape, a Barclays spokesperson pointed to their online Q&A ahead of their upcoming AGM and said that they would not be making further comment.

“Barclays has been the subject of criticism in relation to Gaza based on two arguments: that Barclays is an investor in these businesses, and that we provide a range of financial services to clients which produce equipment used by the Israeli Defence Force,” the Q&A read.

“We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do. We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares. We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a ‘shareholder’ or ‘investor’ in that sense in relation to these companies.”

Barclays continued: “An associated claim is that we invest in Elbit, an Israeli defence manufacturer which also supplies the UK armed forces with equipment and training. For the reasons mentioned, it is not true that we have made a decision to invest in Elbit. We may hold shares in relation to client driven transactions, which is why we appear on the share register, but we are not investors. We note also that Elbit is highlighted because campaigners claim it makes cluster bombs. We would cease any relationship with any business where we saw evidence that it manufactures cluster bombs or components.

“As a bank, our job is to provide financial services to thousands of business clients and that includes those in the defence sector. Clients in this sector include US, UK or European companies which supply defence products to NATO and other allies including Ukraine.”

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