Jul 26, 2023 6 min read

Ten artists and vendors set to sue The 1975 over Good Vibes Festival cancellation

Ten artists and vendors set to sue The 1975 over Good Vibes Festival cancellation

The 1975 are facing a class action lawsuit in Malaysia after comments made by frontman Matty Healy against the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws caused an entire festival to be cancelled last weekend.

Malaysian law firm Thomas Philip announced it was planning legal action on behalf of artists and vendors impacted by the cancellation the day after The 1975 played the Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur. And yesterday the lawyers told NME that five artists and five vendors are now involved in that litigation.

Addressing Malaysia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws during his set at the Good Vibes Festival last Friday, Healy told his audience: “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”.

He then kissed bassist Ross MacDonald on the mouth and 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. If you push, I am going to push back. I am not in the fucking mood, I’m not in the fucking mood”.

Those comments caused the band’s set to be cut short. And the next day the festival’s promoter announced that the country’s Ministry Of Communications And Digital had responded to Healy’s on-stage comments by issuing a cancellation directive, meaning the event’s Saturday and Sunday programmes could not go ahead.

The promoter added: “The ministry has underlined its unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule or contravene Malaysian laws. We sincerely apologise to all of our ticketholders, 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”.

Opinion is divided regarding Healy’s actions at the Good Vibes Festival. Many have applauded the musician for making a stand in support of the LGBTQ+ community in Malaysia. However, there are plenty of critics too, including from people who support Healy’s stance, but criticise the way he delivered his message.

Malaysian drag queen Carmen Rose told the BBC World Service: “I think there is a right place and time to do that and how you deliver the message that he delivered. It was very obvious that he was intoxicated and he wasn’t in the right space to do that”.

“I think the way he said [what he said was] very performative”, she went on. “It’s giving [off a sense of] ‘white saviour complex’ and he wasn’t doing it for our community because if he was … he would know what the consequences we would have to go through [would be]. I don’t think he cares about us, [just] himself”.

“Right now the state elections [are] just around the corner”, she added, “and the politicians are going to use this as a scapegoat, or it gives them more ammo to further their homophobic agenda”.

Others have rejected the ‘white saviour’ label. Long-time LGBTQ+ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell wrote in The Guardian: “Matty Healy is not a ‘white saviour’ for showing solidarity with Malaysian LGBTs. The Kuala Lumpur regime will be delighted that the focus is on The 1975, rather than the LGBT+ human rights abuses the band condemned”.

“Whatever you think about Healy’s actions”, he went on, “he succeeded in drawing global attention to Malaysia’s persecution of its queer citizens – more so than any other action by anyone else. Hundreds of millions of people are now aware that Malaysia penalises LGBT+ people with up to 20 years jail, plus caning and fines – under a colonial-era law originally imposed by Britain in 1871”.

Healy responded to that article on Instagram, stating: “Thank you Peter, you have always been a hero of mine and a great friend to many people I love dearly. You mean a lot to so many people”.

Alongside the politics surrounding the incident, there are the legalities. Lawyer Mathew Thomas Philip – founder of the Thomas Philip law firm – posted on social media over the weekend: “The Good Vibes Festival got cancelled and I presume that the local artists who were to perform today and tomorrow will not get their full pay because of this cancellation. I am happy to represent all the local artists pro bono to sue the band The 1975 for causing loss”.

Addressing the band directly, he went on: “It is not The 1975’s time or space to tell us how to run our country. You should have stuck to your scope of work as per your contract which you recklessly breached. You are very silly”.

Regarding the band’s contractual commitments, the Good Vibes Festival has said that Healy and his bandmates specifically agreed to follow local rules regarding live performances so that the promoter could get approval from the relevant authorities to have The 1975 play.

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

The promoter is not involved in the Thomas Philip lawsuit, but has confirmed that it is considering its own legal options. Meanwhile, according to the NME, around 70 people attended a meeting organised by Thomas Philip last night, including artists, vendors and journalists.

The lawyer told those people: “My view is that The 1975 must be held responsible and accountable for the losses suffered by the artists and vendors”. He then told the NME that ten people are already on board for the class action he is organising.

It is thought that it will be mainly Malaysian artists who could be financially hit by the cancellation. International acts are usually paid their fees upfront, whereas local acts get some of their money after the show, and it’s not currently clear what the cancellation will mean for those payments.

But international artists – and the Malaysian promoters and festivals that want to book them – could be more indirectly hit, because many anticipate that the country’s officials will be much less willing to grant approval for Western artists to perform there in the future.

In addition to the Thomas Philip-led lawsuit, a police chief in Kuala Lumpur has confirmed that eighteen people also reported Healy’s on-stage comments to local police. However, according to Malaysian news site The Star, Deputy Inspector-General Bukit Aman said that the first report was made at 2pm on Saturday and the band had left the country at 5.30am.

“There are those that question why the police did not act quickly”, he stated. “This incident occurred on 21 Jul at 11.30pm and we understand that the concert was stopped soon after. The band then left the country the very next morning at 5.30am, so it was only six hours before they flew off. The report was made at 2pm, so by the time it was made, we were already unable to take action because they had already left”.

Malaysian artists and vendors readying class action lawsuit against The 1975 over Good Vibes Festival cancellation
A class action lawsuit is being readied against The 1975 over the cancellation of Good Vibes Festival by Malaysian artists and vendors.
Matty Healy is not a ‘white saviour’ for showing solidarity with Malaysia’s LGBTQ+ people | Peter Tatchell
The Kuala Lumpur regime will be delighted that the focus is on the 1975, rather than the human rights abuses the band condemned, says activist Peter Tatchell
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to CMU.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.
Privacy Policy