Artist News Gigs & Festivals

Odd Future axed from Big Day Out New Zealand date after opposition from gay rights campaigner

By | Published on Monday 7 November 2011

Tyler, The Creator

Promoters of the Big Day Out festival have axed the Odd Future posse from the line-up of their Auckland date after complaints about the hip hop group’s homophobic lyrics.

According to the New Zealand Herald, a local activist called Calum Bennachie complained to Auckland City Council, who own the venue where the festival takes place, about the US act’s inclusion on the Big Day Out bill, and the Council subsequently demanded the posse be removed. They will still appear on the Aussie dates of the Big Day Out festival tour though.

Bennachie also wrote to Big Day Out’s promoters directly, and in that letter said: “Lyrics such as those played by Odd Future increase the societal discourse against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, a discourse that encourages bullying and violence. If it is acceptable to say something similar to ‘gays are a cancer on society that deserves to be eliminated’, then what group would be next?”

He added: “By allowing Odd Future to play at Big Day Out, you are proving that you have little concern for the lives and welfare of LGBT people, that you are willing to endanger their lives, and seek to encourage stigmatisation against them. I find this disappointing in an organisation that could do so much to enhance the self esteem of youth, reduce stigma, and discourage violence”.

Big Day Out promoter Ken West confirmed to reporters that Odd Future would not play Big Day Out in New Zealand, but that they would still play the festival in Australia, while adding that his company planned to stage a separate show with the hip hoppers in Auckland in a non-Council owned venue.

Bennachie is not the first person to criticise Odd Future for their homophobic lyrics. Earlier this year Sara Quin of Canadian twin sister duo Tegan & Sara took one of the group’s most high profile members, Tyler, The Creator to task on this issue, writing in an open letter: “As journalists and colleagues defend, excuse and congratulate Tyler, The Creator, I find it impossible not to comment. In any other industry would I be expected to tolerate, overlook and find deeper meaning in this kid’s sickening rhetoric? Why should I care about this music or its ‘brilliance’ when the message is so repulsive and irresponsible?”

After initially responding that “if Tegan and Sara need some hard dick, hit me up!”, Tyler later told MTV: “Well, I have gay fans and they don’t really take it [my homophobic lyrics] offensive, so I don’t know. If it offends you, it offends you. If you call me a nigga, I really don’t care, but that’s just me, personally. Some people might take it the other way, I personally don’t give a shit”.

While this is one isolated cancelled gig for Odd Future, it’s not unknown for campaigns of this kind to hinder the live activity of artists known for particularly violent homophobic lyrics. Reggae and dancehall acts like Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton were particularly hit after active campaigning by gay rights groups around the world in the middle of the last decade.

In unrelated Big Day Out news, West’s partner in crime with regards the uber Aussie fest has announced he is stepping back from involvement in the franchise. Vivian Lees told The Music Network last week: “After 20 wonderful years as co-producer of the Big Day Out Festival I have decided to move on. My decision is principally to ease the workload on myself and I believe this will also allow me to increase my commitment to my family and interests outside of Big Day Out. I am a passionate supporter of the Big Day Out and the musical legacy I have created with Ken West who will now continue to produce the show as sole producer”.