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Pearl Jam the latest band to boycott North Carolina

By | Published on Wednesday 20 April 2016

Pearl Jam

The live industry in North Carolina is faces continued uncertainty, as more performers protest against the state’s controversial ‘bathroom bill’, which was recently passed into law. Earlier this week, Pearl Jam pulled out of a show in Raleigh with the “full support” of promoter Live Nation.

As previously reported, Bruce Springsteen cancelled a show in Greensboro, North Carolina earlier this month as a protest against the state’s newly passed Public Facilities Privacy And Security Act, HB2 for short. Also know as the ‘bathroom bill’, the controversial new law dictates that transgender people must use public toilets associated with their birth gender, rather than that with which they now identify.

Acts such as Ringo Starr, Boston and Cirque du Soleil have also cancelled shows in the state, while Mumford & Sons, Cyndi Lauper and Laura Jane Grace have used performances there to raise money for groups fighting to have the law repealed.

Another artist choosing to go ahead with a planned show, Gregg Allman said in a statement earlier this month: “Although we, as a nation, have made progress in many areas, it’s sad and infuriating that some, in 2016, are still working so hard to take the rights away from our brothers and sisters, as in the cases of ‘bathroom laws’ recently passed in North Carolina, discriminating against the LGBT community”.

“I know that North Carolina is a state full of good folks and loyal fans, many of whom are angry about and feel misrepresented by this action”, he continued. “My band and I will continue to play our show as scheduled there, and hope that our music unites people in this challenging time. We stand in solidarity with the LGBT community urging Gov McCrory to listen to the people and reverse this wrong”.

Although echoing those sentiments, Pearl Jam said in a statement this week that they had decided not to go ahead with tonight’s show, saying: “The HB2 law that was recently passed is a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens. The practical implications are expansive and its negative impact upon basic human rights is profound. We want America to be a place where no one can be turned away from a business because of who they love or fired from their job for who they are”.

“It is for this reason that we must take a stand against prejudice”, they continued, “along with other artists and businesses, and join those in North Carolina who are working to oppose HB2 and repair what is currently unacceptable”.

The band added that they would be donating money to local groups fighting the law, while Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino later tweeted that the band had the “full support” of his company in their decision to cancel the show.

With the short notice of these cancellations, the financial hit to the local live sector will be more significant than a simple boycott of the state at the bookings stage, as outlined in this Billboard piece.

At this point, non-refundable deposits on venues will have been paid, advertising dollars will have been spent by promoters, as well as other operational costs. Technical and venue staff will also lose income, as will the venues themselves and businesses that bank on revenue from passing concert-goers. Whether this holds any sway with North Carolina lawmakers remains to be seen.